#LikeAMother 7-figure single mom Leanne Ely on why families don’t eat dinner together, and picky eaters


Growing up, one of my fondest memories is waking up on school mornings in the winter, lured from my cozy bed to the still-chilly house by the smells of breakfast cooking. Every single morning of my childhood, my own single mom would rise before my two brothers and me, and cook a proper hot breakfast: Pancakes and sausage with applesauce on the side, french toast and bacon, any version of eggs and omelets, oatmeal or muffins. This was the midwest, and my mom grew up on a farm. Meals were square, big, and served with cold milk.

Now as a mom, I do more or less the same — though I do find some short-cuts, like baking healthy muffins in bulk, freezing them, and microwave de-thawing them before dragging the kids out of bed. For dinner, I cook from scratch most evenings and we always sit down together for the meal — something that makes me a bit of an anomaly these days.

This shared passion for family dinners is just one thing that draws me to Leanne Ely.

Over the past few years I’ve looked to Leanne as a mentor. After all, this momma launched a 7-figure digital marketing enterprise long before “digital marketing” was even a term.

Back in 2001, this mom was a breadwinning wife homeschooling her two kids in rural North Carolina when she launched SavingDinner.com, one of if not the first meal planning subscription businesses. The business kept her focused through a divorce and single motherhood, and blossomed into a 7-figure enterprise that employs 10 food writers, a CIO, COO, customer service team and a sister white-label business whose clients include nationally famous physicians and celebrity chefs. “I can do almost all of my work with my slippers on and no pantyhose involved, and I’ve always been there for all my kids’ events,” she says.

Aside from business brilliance, Ely is an advocate — building her enterprise on her mission to bring families back to the evening dinner table. In this episode we dish about our distain for picky eaters of all ages, our shared fond memories of home-cooked meals around the family dinner.


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Emma Johnson is a veteran money writer, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, REAL SIMPLE, Parenting, USA Today and others.

The Kickass Single Mom: Be Financially Independent, Discover Your Sexiest Self, and Raise Fabulous, Happy Children (Penguin, 2017), was a #1 bestseller and was featured in hundreds of media, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, Oprah.com and the New York Post, which named it to its ‘Must Read” list.

Her popular blog Wealthysinglemommy.com, and podcast Like a Mother, explore issues facing professional single moms: business and career, money, sex, relationships and parenting. Emma regularly comments on these topics for outlets such as CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine, Woman’s Day, The Doctors, and many more. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” one of “20 Personal Finance Influencers to Follow on Twitter” by AOL DailyFinance, “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and “Most Eligible New Yorkers” by New York Observer.

A popular speaker on gender equality, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality.

Emma grew up in Sycamore, Ill., and lives in New York City with her children.

2 thoughts on “#LikeAMother 7-figure single mom Leanne Ely on why families don’t eat dinner together, and picky eaters

  1. You ladies are awesome! I have always insisted that my family eats together at the table. I told my husband this was the one thing I wanted and it was my “make it or break it” demand. Even when I was trying to feed the family 21 meals a week on $75 we ate dinner every night together. In the beginning a lot of our food was processed and full of poor nutrition and empty calories. We went through the chicken nuggets and Mac-n-cheese stages with the kids and realized our mistake. For the last 7 years or so I have cooked meals (mostly from scratch) and removed much of the processed food from our house. The evening meal is something that everyone in the house looks forward to either because they are hungry, it’s their favorite meal, or just to be together. I am the anomaly in my group of friends and family. It seems everyone else has over scheduled kids, husbands and self and they hardly ever see each other. They think I’m crazy because I have 6 weeks of menus I rotate through so my “picky” daughter doesn’t get “bored” eating the same thing “all the time”. I think I’m smart because this one habit has kept our family strong enough to weather storms that have torn other families apart.

    1. Christine – thank you so much for this. I hear all kinds of excuses for all kinds of things, but family dinners – even if you can swing it several times weekly — is the essence of mankind!

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