COOKING sensation Suzanne Mulholland can’t believe her luck at being a guest at the Borders Book Festival.

It’s an event the Ettrick Valley resident has attended for years.

Mrs Mulholland, 44, is now excited about gracing the festival’s virtual stage with her book The Batch Lady, a name by which she is possibly more famously known.

She started her YouTube channel nearly three years ago, using it to share the benefits of what is known as batch cooking – a practice many householders know very well as they juggle work, childcare and home management.

Her social media channels now have more than 120,000 followers, and she has appeared in the pages of The Sun and Daily Mail, as well as on ITV’s This Morning.

But lockdown has seen her following grow even further, as shopping and cooking habits have changed, and the necessity to be canny with food has grown.

“Batch cooking is really prevalent at the moment,” says Mrs Mulholland, “based on everybody’s shopping habits all of a sudden changing.

“People are shopping less and buying more, so gone are the days when people were shopping maybe every two to three days, nipping in and grabbing stuff.

“Now, people are going once a week, for a weekly shop. We’re seeing the amount that they’re spending increasing, and they’re buying a lot more but less often.”

Mrs Mulholland believes this trend will continue for some time, while shopping remains “a feat”.

She says: “You have to stand in the queue outside, and wait your turn, and you’ve got to think about the person standing two metres behind you…

“Everybody all of a sudden needs to be a bit more organised and think in advance before they arrive at the shop.”

And with this decrease in shopping trips alongside a rise in the amount of groceries bought, there comes the quandary of use-by dates.

“The sell-by dates nowadays are quite short,” Mrs Mulholland says. “They’re not allowing that your chicken is going to last to the end of the week, so it’s getting some of those meals prepped and put in the freezer, so come the end of the week, you can pull it out and it’s as fresh as the day you bought it.”

“The Batch Lady” was set up, says Mrs Mulholland, with the aim of helping busy, working people – who either love cooking or hate it – to avoid the drudgery of producing daily family meals by preparing in advance.

And she lives by this method herself. With the local shop a 30-minute drive away, Mrs Mulholland spends just half an hour in the shop itself, picking up her ingredients, returning home to cook the week’s meals in roughly an hour, then freezing them and pulling one out each evening.

It’s a method that comes naturally to the business graduate and former time-management trainer.

“I’m about being very organised and getting mundane tasks done," she says. "It’s always been my ethos. When I found myself on a rural farm [with husband Peter and children Jake, 13, and Zara, 11], I realised that quite a lot of those things that I was teaching in a corporate environment resonated in the home life.”

And having answered her mum friends’ requests to put her skills up on YouTube, she then got a call from HarperCollins offering a book deal – and the exciting opportunity to join her favourite book festival.

Mrs Mulholland’s three-book deal saw the first, The Batch Lady, published in March this year; the second will be published next year but, in the meantime, her publisher suggested what would help in lockdown would be a “planner” book – The Batch Lady Meal Planner – out on July 23.

The book features 26 recipes, and guidance on how to meal plan and record/manage freezer contents.

And it’s the book she will share at this year’s book festival, albeit online rather than in person.

“I was gutted, because the Borders Book Festival I go to every year – it’s right near my house,” says Mrs Mulholland.

“I never miss it – I’ve got a four-day ticket usually. And I was desperate to go to it, so I’m now doing the online version.

“It’s really special. I was so pleased to be an author finally and to be going to it as an author.”

The festival is not the only event Mrs Mulholland will be guesting at this year but it is the most important to the local YouTube star.

“The Borders Book Festival was at the top of my list because it’s my local one.

"It’s always so amazing that we have all these big authors come to the Borders, so that was why I really wanted to be in it. I’m a Borders girl!”

The video and live chat will be available on the Borders Book Festival website at 4pm on Sunday, July 12.