By Christiana Roussel

Photos by Audrey Seymour, Audrey Creative

Who among us did not have the grandest of plans coming out of quarantine?

We told ourselves: “I’m going to cook healthier meals!” “I am going to get my family back to the dinner table!” “I’m going to streamline my life and not stress out about supper every night!”

And then, life happened and many of us went back to feeling harried around the topic of dinner.

Enter Meal Prep Mamacita, the brainchild of Mountain Brook resident Julie Kimbrough. Julie has long had a love of cooking and the joy of sharing her secrets so her website and social media space was a natural outlet for her creations. Alabama-born and raised, Kimbrough has a family tree full of English, French, Irish, Hispanic and Native American heritage which all find their way into the meals she creates. This is a girl who likes spice.

As a trained pharmacist with crazy hours, she realized long ago that if she was going to be eating healthy meals Monday through Friday, she had better put some plans in place.

Kimbrough says, “I began meal prepping right before I began pharmacy school in 2014. I started working out and really enjoyed it and began to learn about eating healthy as well. This sparked my love for meal prepping. I initially prepped the same things, such as chicken with rice and broccoli, etc. This became boring fast so I decided to use my knowledge and love of food and cooking to create my own recipes.”

Kimbrough and her husband David both work full-time while raising children Elijah (5) and Anna Grace (2) so meal prep has become essential to their weekday survival. Sharing what works for their family has resonated with thousands of followers who regularly check in on her Instagram page (@themealprepmamacita) and her website where she posts family favorites and tips for making mealtimes fun again.

Her advice? “I believe the biggest obstacle is finding what kids like and making it easy for everyone in the family to enjoy. I love family dinners. Sometimes my kids want to eat chicken fingers and fruit and if that makes them happy, I am okay with that. I think just making sure we are trying to eat good foods and make sure our kids are too is tough, so to me it is all about balance, not making meals too strict. Just enjoy life and do your best balancing good, healthy meals with treats, too.”

The next question we know readers will have is “Can I just hire you to meal prep for me?” Julie laughs and says that yes, she does get asked that a lot. For now, all of the hours in her week are spoken for – between family and work, and she adds, “I am currently working towards becoming a CPT (Certified Personal Trainer) and CNC (Certified Nutrition Coach) with NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine).”

But, you can tell the wheels are turning for her as she notes with a grin, “In the near future, I hope to be able to expand my business to offer actual meals, but that is a dream I hope to accomplish before the end of 2022.”

Until then, Julie has a few of her favorite recipes she’d like to share with readers, including some of the most requested. To that we say, cheers to making mealtime fun again!