Jen Kugler isn’t the primary cook in her Kennebunk home, where her husband, Jeff, takes the lead in the kitchen. Yet at least once a week she needs to make dinner for her husband and three children, and on those nights she admits to feeling “at a complete loss.”

But this winter she participated in a focus group and test drove a locally sourced, organic, vegan meal kit called BEEP Box, which is being produced at Frinklepod Farm in neighboring Arundel. The experience, Kugler said, was eye-opening.

“Meal kits made it easy for me to do the cooking,” said Kugler, who is a vegetarian. Her husband and kids occasionally eat chicken. Kugler said the BEEP Box focus group exposed her family to new recipes and flavors.

Many national and regional companies sell meal kits, which consist of pre-cut and measured ingredients with recipes. One BEEP Box serves two, costs $20 and can be made in 30 minutes or less.

“We learned that our 5-year-old loves beet falafel,” Kugler told me. “Who knew? I never would have thought to serve that, and even if I had, I probably wouldn’t have made it because it would have seemed an overwhelming task to take on with three small children racing around. With the BEEP Box it was ready quickly, and I felt like we were eating out at a restaurant.”

Flora Brown, who with her husband, Noah Wentworth, has farmed the all-vegetarian and organic-certified Frinklepod Farm for six years, is weeks away from selling the plant-based meal kits from the farm store and, later, offering them for delivery.

“The idea grew organically from a combination of figuring out what is the best way to add value to the produce we grow,” Brown said, “and hearing from customers who want inspiration for what to cook.”

Brown and her staff give out recipes and preparation advice from the farm store, but she can see customers want more. The target market includes people who want to eat locally sourced, whole food but lack time or confidence in the kitchen.

The BEEP Box is scheduled to formally debut once the farm’s commercial kitchen is complete and has the necessary town approvals. The kitchen is part of a two-story, energy-efficient building named The Pod that’s nearing completion on the edge of the farm fields. Solar panels will supply all the electricity as well as power the farm’s irrigation system and other buildings.

Since Wentworth is both the head builder and chief farmer, construction of The Pod is (not surprisingly) behind schedule. So is the roll-out of the BEEP Box. But Brown and Wentworth, who owns Evergreen Building Collaborative and has built energy-efficient, passive-solar homes for two decades, expect the kitchen to be in business by July.

The Pod will house Frinklepod’s winter farm store, a community meeting room, a propagation greenhouse, a climate-controlled crop storage area, an apartment for farm apprentices, a farm office and a flexible space that can offer cooking classes at night and serve as the floral design studio for the farm’s wedding and event work during the day. In the past, Frinklepod cooking classes were held at the New School in Kennebunk.

The Frinklepod Farm store will sell the meal kits, which will be prepared in a commercial kitchen in the building under construction in the background. Photo by Avery Yale Kamila

The building is fossil-fuel free, which means convection ovens and burners in the kitchen. Other high-performance features include triple-glazed windows and a heat pump for heating and cooling. Frinklepod raised $18,000 on a crowd-sourcing site to help pay for the new building.

Brown and her crew will put together the BEEP boxes, chopping veggies, making sauces, mixing spices and portioning out ingredients.

The delivery region will stretch from Saco to Wells, to start. Customers will choose among such options as smoky pepper fajitas; Singapore noodle stir fry; and chickpea and kale burgers with a Mediterranean summer salad.

Andrea Simoneau of Arundel also participated in the BEEP Box focus group. Simoneau works long days and comes home too tired to cook. She said the BEEP Box allowed her to make fresh meals with limited effort.

Wondering about that BEEP name? It’s an acronym that stands for “because everyone eats plants,” Brown said, adding “but most of us could use a little help eating more of them.”

Avery Yale Kamila is a food writer who lives in Portland. She can be reached at

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Twitter: AveryYaleKamila