Anna Stanford, a popular local food blogger with over 110K followers on social media, has just had her first cookery book published. Eileen Leahy meets the mother of three and self-taught cook to find out why her faff-free meals are proving to be so popular….
Sharing my family recipes just started off as a bit of a hobby,” smiles Anna Stanford as we sit down to chat at Juliet’s café on Tunbridge Wells High Street.
We’re here to talk about the publication of her new book Anna’s Family Kitchen: Navigating Through Food, Faff and Family which was recently published by Mezze and reflects the type of fuss-free yet delicious and impressive looking crowd-pleasing dishes Anna has become so well known for via her Instagram account Anna’s Family Kitchen.
“The recipes just seemed to be relatable to people,” she continues. “I obviously love cooking and am self-taught but the monotony of cooking endless family meals can be quite overwhelming for a lot of people – even for me at times!”
She says she launched her Instagram and Facebook accounts four years ago and they naturally grew because Anna was all about sharing real recipes that would suit families of all sizes – and tastes.
“I think people like my recipes because they are so adaptable and relatable and come from a real family kitchen”
“I started sharing my family’s favourite recipes but also experimenting with how to switch up traditional dishes too. My daughter became a vegetarian when she was 12 and was a slightly faddy eater anyway so I was always having to tweak recipes as I didn’t want to cook separate meals for everyone.
“Despite my two boys being meat eaters, I found a format where I was able to create dishes that pleased everyone. Supplementing meat with other things like fish lent itself to a lot of Asian inspired food and curries. In my previous job I’d travelled extensively all over Asia so I had a good grounding in a variety of things you could make.”
Anna adds that some of her followers wait for her to post a recipe before going shopping while others follow her for tips on how to use up leftovers or simply just for inspiration.
“I receive so many lovely messages telling me that I’ve changed the way people cook for their family. They tell me they were stuck in a rut until they started following me!”
Anna says she started sharing these recipes daily on social media and things started to take off – especially during lockdown when people were stuck at home and the highlight of the day was cooking dinner – especially during lockdowns.
Anna, who cites Jamie Oliver and Nigel Slater as big influences, says she did Ready Steady Cook style ‘What are We Making For Dinner Tonight’ Instagram lives where she’d come up with a recipe idea after one of her selected followers told her what ingredients they had to work with.
She also introduced virtual cookery lessons – which have since become something she does in real life now with Uni students and children.
This USP is what she believes gives her 400plus recipes – and now book – an edge compared to others on the market.
“I wanted to do a book that had never been done before. I think what people like about my food is that it’s faff-free. I’m a working mum with three children and run a real family kitchen. I think that was definitely the appeal in terms of getting a book deal.”
The 70 recipes in Anna’s Family Kitchen are divided into five chapters, covering all aspects of everyday challenges faced in the kitchen. These include Light Bites & Snacks, Quick & Easy Weekdays, Weekends & Gatherings, Fakeaways, and Cook Clever, which is full of useful hints and tips to save money, batch cook ahead of time and utilise your freezer to make sure you aren’t wasting food.
Anna, who did most of the food styling in her new book and also does some commercial work for brands, reveals that her main goals with the new book were that recipes were simple and easy to follow and had as many variations as possible.
Dishes include Beef Massaman Curry, Summer Roast Chicken, Harissa Hake & Couscous Traybake, Chana Masala and Foolproof Bread.
And does she have an idea for a second book? “Oh yes, I do so watch this space!”
Anna’s Family Kitchen retails at £25 and is available from