Five Tips from 2 Birds Meal Prep
For 2 Birds Meal Prep owner Ivy Olivier, food and community are inextricably linked. After working in restaurants for more than a decade, she switched to a career as a social worker before ultimately realizing that her passion lies where food and community intersect.
Shortly after launching an Instagram account showcasing her meal prep for her family, Olivier began getting an influx of requests to purchase her meals. She also read a book called Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Greg Boyle, which is about a café in Los Angeles that hires ex-gang members. These events inspired Olivier to take a leap of faith and start her own meal prep business.
“Between my love for food and my desire to give back to the community, I saw a need that could be filled with 2 Birds Meal Prep,” she says. “I enrolled in culinary school and wrote a business plan! It’s very exciting to transition from my career in social work to owning my own business. I think my background definitely helped prepare me to serve people in our community in a unique way.”
Olivier preps and sells a variety of individual and family meals, many of which are also available as vegan meals. Olivier herself is a vegan and is determined to offer delicious plant-based options. “We don’t want to make food that tastes ‘almost as good’ as the carnivorous version,” she says. “I want to present a happy medium to people—like, here’s how to eat in a way that doesn’t hurt the only earth we have, but it’s also so delicious you’d order it either way!”
After taking a short break, 2 Birds is slated to reopen by May 1st with an even greater emphasis on community outreach. “We have partnered with a local church to be able to do more ministry work and give back to the Lynchburg community in a big way,” Olivier says.
Olivier is also passionate about sharing her meal prep knowledge.
Here are five of her top tips!
1. Start Small
Although a certain amount of enthusiasm is necessary when it comes to meal prep, resist the urge to pre-prepare every meal—doing so will inevitably cause burnout. “Remember, this is something that is supposed to help you, not be a massive, overwhelming burden!” notes Olivier. “If you’re prepping for yourself, maybe start with just one family-sized meal (or double one if you have a large family) so you’ll have leftovers for lunches.”
Olivier adds that preparing single versatile items rather than full meals is also optimal. “Here’s an example: if you roast a chicken on Sunday, you could have shredded chicken to use in enchiladas, make some chicken salad to eat for lunch, and use the bones to make soup,” she says.
3. Shop Selectively
Choosing high-quality foods is an essential part of any healthy and delicious meal prep plan. Olivier recommends shopping at farmers markets when possible. “There are so many benefits to shopping farmers markets: you support local farmers, you know exactly where your food is coming from, and it gives you the opportunity to eat ‘in season,’ which can keep you from getting bored eating the same old thing week to week,” she notes.
Shopping selectively also means staying true to yourself and your preferences. “Do not prep anything for yourself that you don’t like to eat,” says Olivier. “This is a mistake I see so many people making. If you hate kale, don’t force yourself to eat it. There are literally hundreds of other veggies. Eat the ones you like!”
2. Don’t Underestimate Staples
Integrating basic foods into your meal prep plan is ideal in more ways than one. Not only do many staples lend themselves perfectly to advance prep, but they are also budget-friendly. “If you want to prep healthy on a budget, keep it simple,” notes Olivier. “Stick with the staples: apples, carrots, potatoes, a bag of salad, frozen steam veggie bags, canned tuna, pouches of salmon, peanut butter, etc.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”
Beans are Olivier’s personal favorite staple. “Dry beans are my number one favorite versatile ‘cheap’ healthy food,” she says. “They go great in wraps, stews, as a stand-alone item. I make a big pot of rice and beans pretty much every week because they’re so versatile.”
4. Explore Different Cuisines
If you find yourself getting into a meal prep rut, Olivier suggests incorporating foods from other cultures or simply from outside your comfort zone. “I stay motivated by exploring new cuisines often,” she says. “For the home chef, try to make something complicated once a month to remind yourself why you love cooking. Cooking can be a form of self-care, and there is nothing better than surprising yourself with a new flavor combination you haven’t tried yet!”
5. Don’t Get Discouraged
As is the case with any venture, meal prep will have its share of hiccups. Embrace the process and try to view mistakes as opportunities rather than obstacles. “If you try something and it’s gross, don’t be discouraged!” Olivier exclaims. “Every chef will tell you that they have made some questionable concoctions before. It’s just part of the process. The only way any of us got better at this thing was through experience.”