A friend recently shared with me some information about a new meal preparation delivery service. VegTable is a new meal kit company based in New Jersey. All of VegTable’s meals are 100% vegan, and all of their packaging is 100% compostable, biodegradable, or a recyclable plant-based plastic. The meals — which have a high focus on nutritional content as well as healthy portion sizes — come together in about 35-45 minutes. Sign me up, amiright?
While at work this morning, I got the delivery notification: “Your perfectly portioned and packaged parcel ported. P-P-P-Please enjoy” read the email, which featured a photo and description of the meal. What’s on the menu? Red Lentil & Peanut Stew!
African flavors inspired this fast, easy, nourishing lentil and vegetable stew. Ladled over fluffy brown rice, it’s a perfectly spiced and seasoned, protein-packed, stick-to-your-ribs meal. This dish is nutritionally dense—loaded with iron, calcium, fiber, protein, vitamins, and nearly half your daily value of potassium. It’s important to choose foods that provide the most nutritional bang for your caloric buck, and this one fits the bill.
At the bottom of the email was a “fun fact” about Harissa, an ingredient in the box.
Fun Fact: Harissa is a paste made from various different roasted peppers and chilis (red peppers, serranos, etc) mixed with herbs (coriander, caraway, saffron) and garlic. It is primarily used in North African cuisines such as Tunisian, Libyan, Moroccan, and Algerian.
Oh, the anticipation! I could barely focus at work all day, knowing I’d be able to try this delicious sounding meal. And with all the ingredients and the instructions provided for me, it promised to be insanely easy — even my husband could make it!
I eagerly approached my front porch; awaiting this moment all day, I could almost taste the anticipated flavors.
I picked up the package, rushed to the kitchen, and removed the ingredients, one by one. The ingredients were fresh —a crisp red pepper, a perfectly shaped onion, a crunchy celery stalk, and perfectly portioned spices and seasonings. Bonus: all of the packaging, including the two biodegradable ice packs, are eco-friendly.
Now came the preparation of the recipe. Setting the atmosphere was almost as important to me. My husband and I would enjoy our weekly date night tonight, and we’d still have that restaurant experience without the cost or having to leave our home.
Cooking the meal was so unbelievably simple. And because everything is perfectly portioned, the cleanup (my least favorite part) is minimal. The drawback here is that there’s a lot of waste, even if most of it is recyclable/biodegradable.
I made the mistake of being too eager and not fully preparing the ingredients by chopping and measuring out water ahead of time; and I was also distracted by all the photos I wanted to take. This made for a few moments of chaos, but that’s perfectly normal in my kitchen!
The First Bite
Was it everything I expected? Actually, it far exceeded my expectations. The flavors were wonderfully complementary, making for delightful aromas in the kitchen. And the kit even came with peanuts and lime for garnish!
My husband and I sat down to enjoy. Over the years, I’ve come to know him as an incredibly picky eater in disguise. He eats a lot of conventional junk, but he’s not big on fresh foods, veggies…he won’t even touch fruit. I asked him how he liked it. While I found the flavors very satisfying, he criticized the dish for having not enough flavor. To that I would say three things:
1.) I typically don’t add salt or pepper when I’m cooking, and so I didn’t add any here. I wouldn’t blame VegTable for that because they even suggested salt/pepper.
2.) I can completely understand the challenge of providing a spicy dish that will please a tremendous range of tastebuds. So I wasn’t even expecting it to be as flavorful as it was.
3.) I’ll give credit here to VegTable, who added on the recipe card that the flavors of the stew really come together well if you make this ahead and let it marinate.
All in all, I was very pleased. Some things that I liked most about my VegTable meal kit:
- Cooking with ingredients I’ve been too intimidated to cook with until now. Ginger, lentils, harissa — these are all foods I’ve enjoyed before but foods I’ve never cooked with! And now I don’t even know why I was so intimidated!
- Cooking recipes I would typically be hesitant to try. I can’t say this stew would have been my first choice, but I love it and I’m excited to make it again in the future.
- Growing my recipe collection. With the exception of a mysterious “spice blend,” I know all the ingredients that went into this meal, so the value of this kit extends well beyond one meal.
- Ease of the whole process — the only thinking you have to do is reading the recipe. Everything’s pre-measured and clean up is essentially nothing.
- Leftovers. There was barely enough rice for the meal, if I’m being honest. But there is plenty of stew leftover for lunches this week!
At the same time, there are some things I would prefer to have differently; for example, less waste or reusable packaging, or perhaps the recipe card could given suggestions for varying levels of spiciness. This might require subscribers to have at least some food in their own pantry to complement the dish, but I can imagine some people will want their foods less/more spicy than others.
To Make a Long Story Short . . .
I know you’re ready to try your own VegTable box. Head over to the VegTable site and subscribe for either a 1-meal/week kit ($30) or a 3-meal/week kit ($70) — both kits provide meals for two people!