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Balancing the Grind with Melanie Lionello, Founder of From My Little Kitchen

Melanie Lionello is a nutritionist, food stylist and the founder of From My Little Kitchen. She’s recently released her first cookbook – Frugal Mediterranean Cooking.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role? 

By trade I am a nutritionist having completed a bachelor of human nutrition, and a bachelor of human nutrition honours. However my current job doesn’t look much like a typical nutritionist’s.

I work for myself in my business, From My Little Kitchen, where I develop, style and photograph recipes for domestic and international commercial use including a gluten free and vegan long-life soup that’s sold nationwide with my face on the packet!

I have also just written my first cookbook, Frugal Mediterranean Cooking, which will be released in Australia in February but is currently available through the US and Canada.

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

It’s always different which I love. Usually I start my day with a strong coffee, a walk or pilates class then I hop onto the computer to get organised for the day and catch up on emails. Then I’m off to the markets to pick up ingredients for whatever client work I am working on that day.

I spend the rest of the day cooking, writing, testing, tweaking and eating my recipes to hopefully nail it, meet my brief and have it ready to go to style and shoot later that week. Then I might have a class to teach at university or some marking to do.

I’ll finish the day typing up my notes and recipes into templates, editing images and sending off any work that’s due. Then it’s back to the kitchen to wash up! Throw in instagram, phone calls and deliveries and that’s a pretty standard day.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

My work has always been flexible and remote, long before the pandemic. This is one of the best perks! I can be as flexible as I need to be for my clients and am always shuffling things around in my calendar. It also means I can squeeze in some house work, errands and appointments so by the time the weekend comes, I can enjoy it.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

This is something I’ve been terrible at in the past but am always working on bettering that balance within myself. I’ve always been a bit of a workaholic but the pandemic has shown me that it’s OK to slow down a little.

So I stop working at 6pm-ish each day no matter how early or late I start and have made it my goal to only work one weekend a month. Running a business as a one-woman-show is really difficult because you have to juggle a lot of roles and responsibilities so it’s important to draw some boundaries in.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

I have stopped replying to emails at all hours! Seems like a small thing, but when people realise they can have access to you at all times, you never really stop working or thinking about work so it’s easy to burn out. I draw the line at 6pm then go outside to water my veggie garden which is my decompression time before coming inside to chat with my husband and talk about our days.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I love The Daily, Maintenance Phase and Just the Gist for podcasts.

I’m currently reading Dervla McTiernan’s series which is fab and absolutely adored. Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

My iMac for sure and all the editing and nutrition software on it along with my iPhone. I’d be nothing without my camera, Fujifilm XT2, and of course the best basics for cooking – an excellent kitchen knife and wooden chopping board – my most used items in the kitchen. 

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?  

I would love to read about Nigella Lawson or Samin Nosrat’s work-life balance. They are superstar women who have and continue to take the culinary world by storm. I admire their unadulterated work ethic and enthusiasm so much!

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Say ‘yes’ to everything that sets your heart on fire. Even if you don’t know how to do it yet, say ‘yes’ and work hard to figure it out. Back yourself always with that three-lettered leap of faith!

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.