Recently, I had the chance to meet Laura Grinstead at her home to find out more about the delicious and healthy meal-in- a-muffin business that started out of her own kitchen. Let’s take a field trip to LOVE MUFFINS……it smells good the minute you open this door!
Laura and I first met through our kids 15 years ago. Both of us were juggling babies on the hip and running into each other at birthday parties, playgrounds and carpool line. This time period was for wiping noses and changing diapers. As the kids grew and there were events such as a new baby, a sick friend or a funeral….Laura’s tendency to cook for them kicked in like any Southern woman.
“Gifting food was just something I was raised doing. At Christmas my mom was always baking and we made homemade pickles. It’s just what we did, lining up jars and making tons of them for gifts. I decided over time to start making something healthy to help sustain friends during difficult times.”
Soon, Laura started getting lots of compliments on her healthy muffins and requests from friends and relatives for more. Her business, Love Muffins, didn’t really start as a business but as a gift, Love in a muffin. “I just wanted to give someone who needed a lift something warm, quick to eat and nutritious. I got such a good response that I really felt like I was doing something positive…I was helping people get through a tough time, ” Laura told me.
Her personal outreach turned into so many requests that she decided to think about a business. “I had a lot of fear around this idea. I was afraid that no one would want them or that everyone would want them and I wouldn’t be able to make my orders. So I just emailed a few friends and put it out there.” Laura said, ” I prayed a lot about it. I wanted to slowly build it without too much pressure. I knew it had to be a God thing because it just all happened so easily.”
How did you come up with your recipes? How do you test them?
I did a whole lot of research, trials and of course testing on my family. They are my best critics. My husband treats muffins like he is tasting a fine wine. He examines them visually, pulls them apart and tastes them. If he thinks it qualifies to add to my menu, he will say, “I think I could eat another one of those.” If not, he’ll say, “Nice, but I don’t think I want another.” My kids give me advice, talk them up to friends and help deliver. They promote me constantly to their friends.
You have a lot of orders to manage, bake and deliver each week, how do you manage your orders?
When people place an order through my website, by phone or email …I keep an orders list that then becomes stickies written around my kitchen. They are really all over and down my tables. It’s low tech but it’s a system that works for me. I also track all of my customer orders over time so that I know what they continue to buy, what they tend to buy during which months etc. I can keep track of trends from year to year now and that’s helpful for promotions for say….seasonal holiday muffins. Right now I have a new Coffee Cake Muffin that’s really good and only 180 calories.
My kids love them and so do I…what are your most popular muffins?
All of the food items that I make are homemade, healthy and low calorie. I bake them and then freeze them to preserve the flavor. I list all of the ingredients on my menu so you’ll see exactly what you are getting in each muffin and I fortify them with healthy ingredients like almond milk, greek yogurt, swerve, flax, coconut flour, protein powder, applesauce, and oats.
Blueberry protein muffin is a big favorite! All things pumpkin this time of year are popular like the pumpkin protein muffin with applesauce…and for the holidays I get a lot of orders for cranberry cake muffins with fresh cranberries, swerve and almond and vanilla extract….. and of course all of the savory muffins. Boys especially like the savory muffins. Ivy, your boys always order the sausage/potato/cheese quiche, Greek hamburger and the Bacon, Sausage and Cheese with chicken sausage and salsa. Most of my customers like those for pre-sports mini meals. I have Gluten Free and Paleo muffins. Chocolate Peanut Butter is Gluten Free, Sugar Free and Grain Free.
Has anything ever flopped or just not worked out?
Yes, I was doing homemade peanut, almond and other nut butters but I’ve pulled them off the menu because they were just too difficult and time consuming and messy to deal with. I still make those for some families that still request them but it mostly wasn’t worth it.
What do you make for dinner?
Dinners are totally boring at my house and very simple because after baking all day….well, they just are simple and sometimes eaten in halves around sports games. It’s pretty straightforward fare.
What’s your morning routine?
I get up around 6 am and have my quiet time to get centered for my day. I often read Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life. I go to yoga class and then I’m off with my day.
Has it been hard to balance family and your business?
Well, I didn’t really start until my kids were more independent and didn’t need me as much as they did when they were little. Now I have one in college and one driver at home. That helps a lot! I have been growing very slowly so that I could meet my muffin orders well and still participate in my kids lives. I want to enjoy it. And I do.
What do you think is the hardest thing about parenting?
I think letting kids suffer through struggles on their own is the hardest part of parenting. They have to solve their own problems in order to grow but it’s really hard to watch them make mistakes and not step in to fix them or to intervene when you know you could prevent the struggle.
Do you have any parenting books that you recommend?
I think the Birth Order by Dr. Kevin Leman book is excellent.
Any unexpected positives about starting a business?
Yes! It has broadened my social world and I’m connected to so many people now that otherwise I wouldn’t have known. I also have the satisfaction of helping people feel good with something good for them.
What’s the future of Love Muffins? Where do you want to go with it?
I’m currently looking into the possibility of opening a Love Muffins bakery store front. I’m using a business advisor/ coach who is helping me map out goals for the future. There are pros and cons of growing a business and I just want to carefully weigh those so that I don’t get out there and find that I’m tied to some things that compromise my product or my family life.
Can you ship outside of Houston?
Not yet but I’m testing that out. Since they are delivered frozen and ready for your freezer, I’m just trying to learn a cost effective way to make sure they are delivered and taste the way I want them to, every ingredient is fresh so shipping is tricky. For Ivy and Sprig readers out of town, I will ship snack mixes and granolas as a test.
I have sent care packages of them to my college son and he loves having them for quick breakfasts but I’m sure figuring out shipping for the business could be difficult. Where can we find you and all these delicious, healthy muffins if we want them in Houston?
Come visit my website www.lovemuffins.net to see all of the granolas, snack mixes, sweet and savory muffins. I list all ingredients and calorie count. My Protein cookies come individually wrapped and they balance carbs and proteins for refueling before or after a workout. They are great for portable breakfasts or snacks on the go. They have no added sugar and are low calorie with 10-11 grams of of protein in each.
Chocolate lava mini muffins….delicious, full of protein and only 50 calories!!!
Only for IVY AND SPRIG readers, Love Muffins will give you a free sample mini muffin dozen along with another order of muffins (Houston only). When you order from the website, let her know in the Order Notes that you are an Ivy and Sprig reader. One time only.
Thank you Laura and Love Muffins for a delicious morning in your kitchen! Does anyone have any favorites that they want to share? Or any questions for Laura? Use the reply box below to reach back out to us!