Camila Alves knows a thing or two about the challenge of feeding children a clean, fresh and healthy diet. As a busy, hands-on mom to Levi, 7½, Vida, 6, and Livingston, 3 — her kids with husband Matthew McConaughey — Alves has spent countless nights in a messy kitchen, surrounded by bowls of made-from-scratch veggie purees.
“When I had my first child, I started to try and make fresh food for him daily and I became frustrated with the amount of work, and time, involved in making baby food at home,” Alves, 34, told PEOPLE.
Her solution? To help create a line of baby and toddler food that was unprocessed, naturally nutritious, organic — and affordable. Partnering in 2014 with Agatha Achindu — a fellow mom, established chef and entrepreneur who had a similar mission — the duo co-founded Yummy Spoonfuls.
The line, which includes flash-frozen foods designed for babies and toddlers 4 months and up, will launch at Target stores on June 12, PEOPLE can exclusively announce.
Cynthia Hauser Five Arrows Photography
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With prices ranging from $2.29 to $9.49 for multi-packs, Yummy Spoonfuls uses, according to Alves, “no tricks, no additives — what you see on the front of the package is what you serve your kids.
“Organic, not over-processed, zero additives, no purees, no juice concentrate,” Alves adds. “We’re taking babies and tots through a flavor adventure.”
Inspired by their respective childhood gastronomic experiences — Alves hails from Brazil, and Achindu from Cameroon — the moms pulled from their rural roots.
“Growing up eating fruits and vegetables fresh from our farm added a lot to the way I taste and look at food today, and I wanted the same for my kids and other kids,” says Alves.
Likewise, Achindu, who feasted on organic foods from her family’s garden and local markets as a child, says, “When my son was born, I wanted the best for him, like every other parent! But as a busy working mom, I struggled to always make him the freshest, most nutritious foods.
“I tried to do it all myself and it was very tough … I started looking everywhere, but didn’t find fresh, high-quality baby foods in stores. I knew I couldn’t be alone.”
Cynthia Hauser Five Arrows Photography
The duo collaborated on the creation of all the meals and flavors, and had ideal test subjects: their kids.
“I tested every single thing from the creation to the final flavors with my family,” Alves tells PEOPLE, adding that Livingston and Levi prefer the blueberry, apple and banana options, whereas Vida’s favorite is pear.
Alves is partial to the line’s carrot and lentil for Stage 3: the third of three developmental stages offered by Yummy Spoonfuls, and the option geared towards kids 12 months and older. This last stage “is not puree,” she says.
“It is a solid form that any adult can eat,” she explains. “As a matter of fact, in my opinion, this will be the first baby-food line that parents will be able to enjoy tasting with their babies.”
One reward already gleaned from Alves’ and Achindu’s entrepreneurial partnership has been their newfound friendship. Calling Achindu “an amazing woman and mother,” Alves says they’re united by a shared mission.
“Agatha and I have very similar upbringings. Even though she is from Africa and I am from Brazil, there are a lot of similarities,” she says. “She has been doing this for over nine years, and we both share the extreme passion for doing the right thing for the right reasons.”
“The fun part about collaborating with Agatha is we now can pretty much finish each other’s sentences or when something is in my mind it is usually in hers as well!” Alves adds.
For both mothers, the bottom line is quite simple.
“One of the most important decisions you can make as a parent is what to feed your baby,” says Achindu, who has a 11-year-old son, Jared-Zane. “Healthy kids thrive. All parents want to give their children — our future leaders — the best start possible.”
Yummy Spoonfuls will be available exclusively at Target stores beginning June 12.
— Elizabeth Leonard