Rachel Grantham had returned to her bank job after months of maternity leave and was experiencing a feeling many mothers know all too well: Mum guilt.
In 2012, the Bondi mum was working full days and picking up her one-year-old daughter Ava from daycare at 5.30pm, before scrambling to prepare a meal, feed Ava and have her in bed by seven.
“I felt this huge stress I hadn’t felt before,” Rachel recalls.
“Ava was tired and hungry. She’d be crying all the way home in the car and then hanging off my leg as I cooked her dinner.
“I thought, ‘Isn’t this meant to be the fun bit?’ You miss you children so much all day and you feel so much guilt being away from them… all of the sudden you just have this stressful experience at the end of the day and it’s not what you hoped for.”
To give her more time in the evening to spend with Ava, Rachel started prepping meals on the weekend to freeze and reheat throughout the week - only to find she missed out on play time with her daughter on the weekend instead.
Rachel turned to her supermarket for help, but found no ready-to-eat kids meals were available and confirmed her friends were also experiencing the same struggle.
"I quickly realised I wasn't alone, I wasn't doing a bad job... we were all in the same basket," she says.
The fruitless search sparked an idea. Just a few months later, with a lot of passion, careful planning and hard work, Rachel's own ready-made kids' meal range, Little Bud, was born.