Agatha Achindu turned a talent for making food enticing to picky eaters into a full-blown business.
When Achindu, who grew up as a farmer's daughter in Cameroon, West Africa, immigrated to the U.S. in 1990, she was put off by processed food. "Coming from a different culture, it was so easy for me to recognize that not only did the food not taste good, it wasn't nutritious," says Achindu.
As an IT executive and mom in Atlanta in the early 2000s, she found limited options for healthy kids' food at the grocery store. "How do parents like me with three jobs eat like they have a million dollars?" she asked herself.
She began hosting free healthy cooking workshops for local parents, who would pay $25 for the cost of ingredients and walk away with prepared meals. Before long, her intimate demonstrations turned into classes of 300 attendees. From there, her following grew to 45,000 on social media. In 2006, Achindu quit her job to create her own line of organic baby and toddler food. Yummy Spoonfuls is now sold at major retailers like Walmart.
In 2014, the company caught the attention of model, lifestyle expert, and mother of three Camila Alves McConaughey, who became Achindu's business partner and used her star power to drive the company's expansion. "I saw that there was a lack of healthier, affordable options, so that drove me to find and provide a solution for families and growing children," Alves McConaughey tells Grow.
Grow spoke with Achindu, who shared tips for saving time and money on food preparation and a recipe for fast, cheap, and easy cheesy cauliflower waffles.
As a "momprenuer," Achindu says her freezer is her "best friend" because it saves her both money and time.
The Yummy Spoonfuls founder buys ingredients in season, when they're least expensive, and freezes them. Blueberries, for example, can range in price from $2 to almost $8 a pint, depending on when you buy them. "I use them all year round, for smoothies, compotes, or for baking," Achindu says.
Buying frozen corn, spinach, or carrots at the grocery store can also cut down cooking time since you won't have to wash, peel, or chop. "Don't overlook the freezer section," says Achindu. Just because it's frozen doesn't mean it's not as good: "Frozen vegetables are preserved at the peak of freshness."
Achindu suggests stocking up on staples like rice, beans, nuts, and olive oil in bulk. If you're worried about items spoiling, like almonds, for instance, just put them in the freezer: That "prevents the oils inside the nuts from going rancid," she explains.
The savings from bulk shopping are real. A 17-fluid-ounce bottle of olive oil can cost $10, but you can often find a 100-fluid-ounce bottle for just $16.
Making certain everyday items at home is not only cheaper, it's healthier, says Achindu, who is also a certified nutrition coach. She offers her own recipe for almond milk, for example, noting that store-bought milk alternatives lose nutrients in the mass production process and often contain fillers and shelf-life extenders that may not be great for you.
For Achindu, creating healthy, widely available food options is her passion. That's why, she says, Yummy Spoonfuls supports any company providing nutritious alternatives for kids.
"Health does not discriminate," she says. "We all need nutritious food in our system to be healthy."
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This article has been updated to reflect that Yummy Spoonfuls is sold at Walmart; it was once sold at Whole Foods and Target but currently is not.