Gemma Anusa is the proprietor of SKG Flavas, a bespoke meal prep company that provides high quality, nutritious meals for clients in Reading. Her Instagram feed is a whirlwind of colour, flavour, and inspirational cooking, that is well worth following. As a user of Igluu containers, we thought it would be nice to sit down with Gemma, and get the lowdown on what inspires her, how important it is to be creative when cooking, and why she chose Igluu in particular when it came to delivering meals for her clients.
SKG Flavas is obviously a project of passion for you. When and how did cooking become such a huge part of your life?
I would say, cooking became a huge part of my life from very early on. My mum was a chef so I have always been in the kitchen. She is also Thai, and food is a huge part of our culture, which meant cooking was a huge part of her life, and therefore a huge part of mine too. She always had me in the kitchen, cooking and prepping as far back as I can remember, and I always loved it. I just always loved food!
When did you start meal prepping, and why?
I started meal prepping just over three years ago. My business was born just after i gave birth to my son, mainly because I needed an income and people were always telling me “you should sell your food!”. I got presented with one client, and that client is still with me till this day. I have continued to grow the business since then, and it is way more than just meal prep now, although meal prepping is still the main part of it.
Where do you get the inspiration from, for your meal ideas?
I watch endless amounts of documentaries and cooking programs, I read food blogs from all over the world, Instagram, Pinterest, cookbooks, just anything I have access to really. I just live and breathe it. Sometimes it feels a bit sad, to be honest; but I simply love it. It’s my passion, and I forever seek to be inspired by new cuisines. I’m quite well-travelled in Asia, and I love tasting new food and thinking about how I can recreate it. I always try to put that inspiration into the meals that I cook, while adding a healthy twist, for example, if a recipe says to use butter, I will often use coconut oil instead. There are usually different ways that you can recreate those yummy flavours, but in a healthier manner, and that is what I try to do.
Do you have any favourite recipes that suit meal prepping in particular?
The majority of the meals I cook now are plant-based meals. I love a vegetable curry, or roasted butternut squash, just something where I am taking raw ingredients and I’m just enhancing the natural flavour. I have so many meals all over my Instagram that are quite different from the average meal prepping company to be honest.
Have you found that living under quarantine has affected the way you cook for yourself and your family?
I would say that I’m sourcing things a lot more locally. I was getting a lot of ingredients bulk delivered, like potatoes and huge bags of rice, so I would say that yes, it has affected the way I cook, as I’m just making the most of what is local. I’m quite fortunate, as I live in an area where there are lots of greengrocer stores, and I am actually enjoying it, as it means I get to be a lot more creative.
On your website, you say “when art and soul meet food, that’s where I come in”. Why is being creative when cooking so important to you, and do you have any tips for people who perhaps are feeling uninspired when cooking regularly?
I just feel like being creative takes the boredom away. Obviously I am passionate about what I do, so being creative and passionate tie together into one thing. For people who are feeling uninspired when cooking regularly, I would just say to pick up a load of random ingredients, and just have them at home, ready. There are companies on the internet now that deliver you a box of random vegetables, and having so many recipes available on the internet, you should be able to find something new to create. It’s so easy these days to find all different types of recipes using all kinds of ingredients, so I would say it’s important to not be afraid of trying something new, as I personally have found that some of my best dishes have been created when I’m trying something outside of the norm.
You offer unique and personal nutritional advice for your customers, which is obviously the best way for anyone to find out what meals would work best for them. However, is there a quick tip you would recommend to anyone and everyone when it comes to looking after themselves, perhaps one that is particularly important during a moment in time when many of us are restricted to venturing no further than our front doors?
A quick tip would be to just have a routine. As generic as that sounds, it is so true. Just having a general routine that you stick to, for example what time you eat your meals is really important, as it can be very easy to slip into bad eating habits during this time, which is understandable as you are always at home. People are grazing a lot. So make sure you stick to your three meals a day, and are making a conscious effort to consume good stuff for your body. If you eat well, you feel well, so its just a case of reminding yourself that if you snack all day, you may not feel great later. But if you wake up and have yourself a nice porridge, and you then have a good lunch, and a good dinner, you will feel better for it, because you are fueling your body with nutrients, which in turn makes you feel good. This will then become a habit, which can help stave off that ‘cabin fever’ that we all can feel sometimes, especially at the beginning of a lockdown. It’s just about acknowledging those patterns and doing something about it.
When it comes to your bespoke meal prep, do you have a typical customer type?
I would say that I do. Outside of quarantine, my typical customer would be a working individual, somebody that doesn’t have time, or doesn’t want to be slaving away cooking after a long day at work, and they just want some good, nutritious food that is tasty. Mums, professionals; I cook for a couple of athletes as well, just people who want tasty nutritional food. There are other companies out there who do provide nutritious food, but it doesn’t necessarily taste the greatest, and where I work at a much smaller scale when compared to the average corporate meal prep companies, I am able to take more time with each client and work out what they want, rather than just giving them a list to choose from. It’s all super bespoke, so people get it exactly how they want it
What made you choose Igluu for your meal prep containers, with so many others on the market?
I chose Igluu because, one, I liked your branding and the quality of the boxes is top-notch. Secondly, it was super friendly on a personal level. From then on, I didn’t feel the need to look elsewhere. Super helpful, and super quick, so thank you guys!
Are there any other products or utensils that you would recommend to aid keen meal preppers?
I love tongs! I have about six pairs of them! They are always super useful, they do what you need them to do, and stop you from burning your fingers. As for products, it has to be coconut oil, for sure. It’s just the best oil to cook with. Also Himalayan salt. Just a good range of seasoning. Don’t season your food with the same stuff every time, switch it up! Keep a good range of fresh herbs, keep it different. That way you don’t end up feeling bored with your meals.
What advice would you give to someone just getting started in the world of meal prepping?
Experiment. Put some time aside, whether it’s on a Sunday or Monday, or whenever works for you, and work out what meals you want to eat, and get a big batch cooking. You can have lots of different things cooking at the same time, obviously, you need to keep focused so that you don’t overcook or undercook anything, but it can be done very quickly if you are efficient. Put timers on your phone if that helps you keep on top of things. Get everything prepped at the beginning, and then start cooking everything. You can then start cleaning up your workspace while your meal is on the stove or in the oven. It really isn’t as hard as some people make it out to be.
Where do you see SKG Flavas going in the future? Do you have a desire to expand further afield?
I have multiple plans to expand. I am working on something at the moment which is super exciting. Where I currently only cater to local people in my area, I wanted to look at ways where I could provide my style of cooking, and actually deliver it directly to the doorstep. Not necessarily cooked meals, but pre-selected ingredients along with my recipes. Another idea is to publish a cookbook, when time will allow. I have also recently gone into retreat catering, and would like to expand that further in the near future. But at the moment, as it is just me working on this, I am doing everything at my own pace. Nobody likes being stressed, so I do everything at my own pace and I am super excited for the future.