If you've been following my blog at all in the past few months, you know that I'm on a mission to cook my way through all of the 20-some-odd meal kit delivery services out there. This is my review of Purple Carrot, based on the three meals I've made from their service.
It's not that I want to relinquish my creative cooking time. I just know that so many of you out there are looking for ways to feed your family exciting meals and have less time than ever to dedicate to it. If you've been considering a meal kit service, I want to make sure you have all the information you need before spending your hard earned money!
Table of Contents
Purple Carrot is the first of these meal kit delivery services I've tried that is specifically dedicated to promoting plant based eating. That means that all of the ingredients in our kit were completely vegan.
Perhaps more exciting was that all three of our meals also fell into the "Lean and Clean" category, meaning they were less than 500 calories per serving. I don't know about y'all, but I was long overdue for a diet reset. While I did a good job at staving off the quarantine 15 for awhile, I was starting to get a liiiiiittle too close to passing that threshold. Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled programming.
The Review Criteria
For consistency’s sake, I will consider the following eight metrics across all of my meal kit reviews: Variety of Options, Cost, Ease of Recipes, Average Time Spent (Start to Plate), Clarity of Directions, Flavor, Recyclability of Packaging, and Replicability. I’ll also have a Notes section that I’ll use to pass along any other information to you that is applicable. Let's jump in!
Variety of Options
Each week Purple Carrot offers 8 different entrée options. So far, this is the lowest number of options provided in a week. That said, I would say that their flavor options are pretty dang exciting.
Additionally, remember that they are operating in a limited capacity since they can't use meat, dairy products, and in several cases per week, gluten and nuts are also off limits. When you take all of that into consideration, I'm pretty happy with Purple Carrot's range of options.
The three meals we received were:
- Coconut Peanut Soup with Sweet Potato and Black Quinoa*
- Vegan Chick'n and Dumplings with Oyster Mushrooms and Green Beans
- Autumn Crunch Salads with Red Grapes and Cashew Dressing**
*I made this one on a night that Joe got home pretty late. I was verging on hangry and forgot to take ingredient shots. I'm sorry!
**This was actually supposed to be Curry Fried Rice with Roasted Cauliflower and Lime Aioli, but they didn't have enough in stock so they credited my account $20, which was super nice!
In terms of cost, Purple Carrot seems to be in the high average category. With the initial discount, my first box was $55.19 including delivery, breaking each meal down to $9.20/person. After the discount period ends, meal prices bump up to $11.99 if you're on a two person meal plan, and $9.99 if you're serving 4.
If you know me, you know that I'm a pretty frugal person and I couldn't possibly justify paying that much for my meals for an extended period of time. Heck, that's basically as much as it would cost to eat out!
However, I would also argue that because Purple Carrot does so much to educate the consumer that perhaps it's worth it. You get 8 dinner recipes and 4 breakfast/lunch recipes every week. Part of what you're paying for is that educational component.
Additionally, since Purple Carrot uses exclusively certified organic produce and each kit was plenty big to fill both Joe and I up, I'd argue that their pricing is justified. All that said though, it's still too rich for my blood. If you have the money in budget, though, I say go for it!
Ease of Recipes
While each of the recipes required some preparation of the veggies, nothing was particularly difficult or technical. The most difficult of the recipes was the Vegan Chick'n and Dumplings, but that was really only because the mushrooms required cooking in batches. In this category, I'd rate Purple Carrot a ⅘.
Average Time Spent
The time spent on Purple Carrot meals ranged from 20 minutes for the Autumn Crunch Salads to about 50 minutes for the Chick'n and Dumplings. This isn't the speediest of meal kits, but the recipes are pretty straightforward and quite delicious.
Clarity of Directions
Overall, I'd say that Purple Carrot's directions were quite clear and easy to follow. My only experience that relied more on my kitchen instincts was the Chick'n and Dumplings recipe.
I followed the directions to the "T" when creating the dumplings, but they seemed rather thin. The flour was split between two steps - for coating the mushrooms and for the dumplings - and while I used the appropriate amount in the first step, by the time I made the dumpling mix there clearly wasn't enough flour for them to hold any kind of shape.
Not to worry, though! I simply used the seasoned flour leftover from the mushrooms. They ended up perfect! Had this little mishap not happened, I'm not sure the dumplings would've been seasoned well enough. Purple Carrot scores a ⅘ in this category.
In terms of flavor, I thought Purple Carrot performed very well. This part of the review is arguably more important than some of the others, so pay attention! The Chick'n and Dumplings are a recipe that I will definitely be making again in the future. I'm not even kidding. I'm obsessed. Joe and I have been talking about it a lot.
The Coconut Peanut Soup was delicious and just the right amount of spicy. I accidentally read the instructions for the 4 person meal, though, and ended up thinning it out with double the water. I actually think the consistency was perfect that way, so I'm not complaining!
The only lackluster performer was the Autumn Crunch Salad. Don't get me wrong, both Joe and I enjoyed it. It felt very healthy and like we were doing something great for our bodies. I also loved that it taught the method of soaking raw cashews to make a creamy dressing! It's just that the flavor of the salad overall was a little bit bland and likely could've benefitted from more dressing.
Granted, the lowest performing dish in the pack was a replacement for what I had originally chosen and I got my account credited back for it. I actually have the recipe for the original dish (Curry Fried Rice with Roasted Cauliflower and Aioli) on my list of things to make in the near future, because it looks SO TASTY. For these reasons, I rate Purple Carrot a 4.5/5 in this category.
Recyclability of Packaging
First off, while I wasn't totally enthused by Purple Carrot's recyclability, the fact that they are purely plant based means they are running ahead of the competition based on resource use. I also appreciate that they have a page on their website instructing people how to properly recycle their packaging.
That said, though, I really wish that they a.) didn't use those crappy ice packs that you have to empty into the trash before recycling the plastic, and b.) didn't use the weird moving blanket material for lining the box. There are ice packs that can go down the drain or in the compost, and there's plenty of liners out there that could be composted or recycled as well.
Luckily, my husband is a musician and uses the non-recyclable fiber liners as sound dampeners in his studio. We've gotten so many of these boxes, though, that the number of ice packs is unreasonable. We've given them away to friends, kept a few for ourselves, and do the best we can to recycle them. This was my biggest disappointment with Purple Carrot. I'll give them a ⅘ in this category, but only because of the extra credit they get from being vegan.
In this area, Purple Carrot absolutely shone. It was clear to me that they are doing their best to use real products and teach people how to live on a plant based diet. Literally every recipe gave exact portions of real ingredients that people could easily find at any well stocked grocery store.
Most of the meal kits we have tried so far have had at least one "ingredient" in each box that would render the meal impossible to recreate solo. I so admire that Purple Carrot chose to abide by a principal that would likely end up having their customers becoming self sufficient enough in the kitchen to cut back on deliveries over time.
In my humble opinion, the best part of the meal kit craze has been getting more people into the kitchen and learning about what it takes to make a meal. The fact that Purple Carrot supports education over profit makes me like them quite a bit more.
Purple Carrot also has an add on section where you can get breakfasts, lunches or snacks. There were two breakfast options that each served four people, and two lunch options that each served two people. These recipes are also included in the weekly booklet that comes in the box.
Purple Carrot Review Conclusion
If you're looking for a meal kit delivery service that really does want to teach you how to cook, Purple Carrot has been my favorite so far. I love that they send a whole book of vegan recipes each week covering all of the meal options, including breakfast and dinner.
Their slogan is "eat more plants," and from what I can tell, they are trying to give people the tools to do just that. The food was delicious, filling and made with high quality ingredients. We had a wide range of flavors that we covered over the course of three meals.
So far in this process, Purple Carrot is very near the top of the pack in terms of a lot of the eight metrics. If you're looking for a meal kit service, I have zero qualms about recommending this one. (Please note, I have zero affiliation with Purple Carrot. I just really enjoyed the product!)
If any of the following statements applies to you, I would pretty enthusiastically recommend Purple Carrot for your needs:
- You honestly want to learn how to cook, and want to be able to replicate the meals that are delivered to you.
- You are interested in upping your plant based meal regimen.
- Your Meatless Mondays have gotten stagnant and are filled with pasta instead of real vegetables.
- You need a meat cleanse and want to make sure the food you're eating is still interesting when you do it.
- Your family has specific food allergies (e.g. nuts, gluten, dairy, eggs) but still want a meal kit service that will work with your needs.
- You want a meal kit that is low in calories and high in nutrition.
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