One of Louisville’s most popular food trucks, V-Grits, is taking the next step: helping people cook healthful, plant-based food themselves. As fans of the company know, they offer vegan fare based on classic Southern-style favorites — from “pork” barbecue made with jackfruit to a vegan hot brown.
Enter the V-Box, a new concept from V-Grits creator Kristina Addington that delivers fresh ingredients to your front porch once a week. Each V-Box contains the ingredients (or most of the ingredients) for three different meals that will feed two people. Each box also contains detailed recipe instructions for those meals, from prep to serving.
“We knew early on we wanted to do a bigger business,” Addington tells Insider, “but we weren’t really sure what that was. The meal service came about because a lot of our customers would tell us they wanted to eat vegan meals at home, but they didn’t know how to cook that way.”
So, she and partner Jeff Hennis started doing research and found there were few options for vegan meal delivery service. They started coming up with menus last summer and began testing the idea on friends and acquaintances last fall, and got good feedback. They launched a carry-out version at Chef Space in January and haven’t looked back. Home delivery started in late May.
With a V-Box, pretty much everything you need (save salt, pepper and a few other small items) is not only pre-packaged and separated for you, they are already portioned so you don’t have to measure. And they are delivered in a cooled box, so you don’t have to worry about anything spoiling while you’re at work.
I got my first V-Box last week, and it included recipes to make these three meals: Hawaiian Bowl with BBQ Tofu; Zucchini Fritters with Corn Salad; and Spaghetti and Bean Balls. I only had time for one meal (I gave the rest of the ingredients to a friend so they didn’t go to waste), and the choice was the Hawaiian Bowl.
The ingredients: one red pepper, one lime, chives, pineapple, ginger, V-Grits barbecue sauce, volcano rice, and tofu. I began by taking a grater to the small block of ginger provided, and placing the shavings into a sauce pan with the pre-measured rice. Next, I chopped the red pepper (and I admit my girlfriend Cynthia and I ate a few pieces along the way). The pineapple was already mostly in bite-sized chunks, so that required minimal effort.
With the rice on the stove, I began preparing the tofu, first draining it, then tossing it in olive oil, and finally pressing it between a pair of paper towels, placing a large pan on top.
Cynthia walked by and said, “You know I don’t like tofu, so this will be a hard sell.”
Next, I tossed the pepper chunks in olive oil, then topped with some salt and pepper. The pineapple got some lime, a bit of sugar and a little salt. Finally, I chopped the tofu into bite-size pieces and tossed it in barbecue sauce.
Along the way, I spilled olive oil on the pre-printed menu, accidentally placed the tofu and pineapple on the same baking sheet (it should have been the peppers and pineapple), and generally made a mess of Cynthia’s kitchen. She offered to help, but whenever I start cooking, I become so singularly focused that I tend to refuse help, which was fine with her since she had other stuff to do.
After the tofu got tossed in the tasty barbecue sauce, it all went into the oven, and about 20 minutes later, we had dinner. I spread a bit of the chopped chives on top, and it was beautiful to behold. In fact, it even looked a bit like the photo on the recipe.
And it was delicious — which is to say, I didn’t screw it up too badly. The instructions are pretty simple, and since everything is portioned for you, there is no risk of, say, accidentally putting a pound of ginger in the rice. The flavor balance was just right, with the peppers and tofu making an especially good combination. And then, when you add pineapple to that blend, it all comes home. The rice was a nice side.
And guess who had seconds on the tofu? Yep, that stuff was so good, it even broke through Cynthia’s walls.
Addington says they have shipped V-Boxes as far as Nashville and a few spots in Ohio, but the range will open up soon thanks in part to two-day shipping services. St. Louis, Chicago and other regional cities will have the option to subscribe to V-Box.
“It’s been an interesting process,” Addington says. “Most of our customers aren’t vegan at all, which is surprising, but in a good way. It’s people who want to eat healthier three days a week or learn to cook vegan. That’s our goal: to help people live a healthier lifestyle.”
V-Box is $69 per week, with meals always rotating. Subscribe at the website or contact V-Box online with questions.