Purple Carrot review

I Was Skeptical About This Entirely Vegan Meal Delivery Service, but It Far Exceeded My Expectations

Purple Carrot makes plant-based eating enjoyable rather than stressful.
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It's no exaggeration to say that plant-based dishes have become more popular and varied in recent years. But the idea of vegan meals still tends to conjure up images of sad wilted salads and bland tofu chunks. Enter Purple Carrot, an entirely plant-based meal delivery service boasting nutritious and filling recipes that are packed with flavor. I know because I tested the brand's offerings over a two-week period. 

As someone who gave up meat a few years ago, I appreciate Purple Carrot's commitment to veganism. It's hard enough to find more than a handful of meatless options at a restaurant, but it can also be just as difficult to cook healthy, plant-based meals at home. More than I'd like to admit, I'm stumped over what to make for dinner, eventually falling back on a comforting bowl of cacio e pepe—which is Italian for "cheese and pepper."

So when I decided to give Purple Carrot a try, I was hopeful but also a bit skeptical. An all-vegan meal kit? How good could the meals possibly taste? In a word: delicious. Purple Carrot delivered restaurant-quality recipes that served up substantial proteins and tasty spices in each bite.

My overall rating for Purple Carrot: 9.2 out of 10

Pros

  • Fresh, organic ingredients that are entirely plant-based
  • Flavorful meals that incorporate international spices and sauces
  • Satisfying portions
  • Offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner options
  • Most of the packaging is recyclable

Cons

  • The recipes aren't necessarily for beginners
  • Some of the meals can take up to 40 or 50 minutes to make 
  • Not available in all 50 U.S. states
  • Subscribers can't choose their delivery day

Signing Up for Purple Carrot

The Purple Carrot website is very user-friendly, so signing up for the service was relatively easy for me. One drawback: As of publishing, there is no mobile app, meaning all orders must be managed through the website.

Purple Carrot has delivery capabilities in every U.S. state except for Alaska and Hawaii, but not all zip codes in those 48 states can currently be serviced. To check availability in your area, enter your zip code in the live chat box on the lower right-hand corner of the website and a customer service representative will verify it for you.

Purple Carrot Meal Plans

When signing up for your first delivery, you're prompted to choose either two servings or four servings. The menu changes slightly with each option. If you opt for just two servings, you're required to pick a minimum of three meals a week, with four meals being the most you can order. This plan offers a greater variety of recipes than the four-serving kit. If you're looking for four servings, you can only order two or three meals a week.  

To help you choose your weekly meals, each option has a picture of the prepared dish as well as a list of ingredients, nutrition facts, instructions, and cook time. The recipes are also labeled with one or more of the following categories: High-Protein, Soy-Free, Nut-Free, Gluten-Free, Quick and Easy, < 600 Calories, and Chef's Choice (which are a bit more gourmet). Along with breakfast, lunch, and dinner, subscribers can add "Plantry'' items to their orders, which include sauces (like Thai peanut sauce) and side dishes (like baba ghanoush).

Purple Carrot also has a handful of prepared meals that are one-serving each and can be heated in the microwave. I didn't try any of these dishes, but the options include Tofu Tikka Masala, Herbed Risotto, and Tunisian Chickpea Stew. Unfortunately, you can't mix and match meal kits with prepared meals, but subscribers who select prepared meals can order up to 10 per week.

Purple Carrot Delivery and Packaging

Purple Carrot delivers on Mondays, Tuesdays, or Wednesdays depending on your zip code. Unfortunately, customers aren't able to change their delivery day due to the fact that it's based on where you live. But Purple Carrot will send out an email or text with tracking info so that you can keep tabs on your shipment.

My boxes were well-insulated, and the food items for each meal were wrapped in plastic and clearly labeled. Unpacking them was easy, too—I just tossed each of the bags into my refrigerator crisper. All of the ingredients in my meal kits arrived in good condition (i.e., they weren't spoiled or smashed).

One reviewer on Trustpilot noted that Purple Carrot handles shipping issues promptly: "Every so often, an ingredient is left out due to a shortage or something of the sort. The team always warns you that it may be missing beforehand. And they credited my account for the missing ingredient AND provided suggestions for where to find vegan items to replace it."

The Purple Carrot meals I received were:

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Cooking Purple Carrot Meals

If I had to rate my cooking skills on a scale from beginner to expert, I'd put myself somewhere between beginner and disaster. I get easily overwhelmed with directions, and juggling more than two pans at a time practically guarantees that I'll burn something. 

To be clear, Purple Carrot's recipes aren't exactly designed for kitchen novices. The Sesame Orange Tofu recipe calls for cooking a pot of rice, roasting green beans, mixing a sauce, and browning tofu cubes at roughly the same time. I had to use two timers, but the effort was well worth it—since then, I've made the recipe twice on my own.

In each box, you receive a recipe booklet that contains step-by-step instructions for how to make every meal offered that week (including the dishes you didn't order). So even though I only received three meals, the booklet contained a total of 12 recipes.

If you're looking for quick prep times, Purple Carrot is not for you. Some of the meals take 40 to 50 minutes to make—even the recipes marked "Quick and Easy" take upwards of 30 minutes. The simplest recipe by far was the Summer Vegetable Ciabatta. It's difficult to screw up broiled vegetables on a sandwich roll.

Purple Carrot Flavor and Quality

I have somewhat of a picky palate, so between that and my subpar cooking, I really wasn't expecting to be wowed by Purple Carrot's meals. Happily, I was wrong. The dishes were bursting with flavor, and called for a variety of ingredients, spices, and cooking techniques that I never thought to use in my own meal prep.

The Takeout-Style Noodles With Snow Peas truly tasted like it came from a restaurant. It was savory (thanks to the peanuts and sesame oil) but with a refreshing twist due to the fresh ginger. The Bombay Potatoes created the right amount of heat with a mixture of cumin, brown mustard seeds, and garlic, and the Sesame Orange Tofu perfectly balanced nutty and sweet.

I did have to tone down some of the spice for my husband and 17-month-old, both of whom prefer meals that other people might consider bland. Luckily, that wasn't hard—I cut back on some of the chile garlic sauce in the Takeout-Style Noodles recipe and made the Sesame Orange Tofu without Sriracha, a sacrifice I admittedly wasn't thrilled about.

I think I was most surprised that the meals are actually filling. A few hours after I devoured the Bombay Potatoes, I realized that I had no desire to snack before bed. I credit the dish's 23 grams of protein for satisfying my appetite.

Purple Carrot Prices

Here's a quick breakdown of Purple Carrot's pricing for the main meal plans:

  • 3 meals with 2 servings each: $72/week
  • 4 meals with 2 servings each: $96/week
  • 2 meals with 4 servings each: $80/week
  • 3 meals with 4 servings each: $120/week
  • 6 prepared meals with 1 serving each: $78/week
  • 8 prepared meals with 1 serving each: $104/week
  • 10 prepared meals with 1 serving each: $130/week

You also have the option to add breakfasts, lunches, and "Plantry" items to your weekly box.  Individual items, like jackfruit and plant-based sausage, typically cost between $5 and $9. Purple Carrot is offering Real Simple readers $35 off their first order with promo code Simple35.

Sign up now: From $72/week; purplecarrot.com. (Use code Simple35 for $35 off.)

Purple Carrot Sustainability and Sourcing

Purple Carrot acknowledges that it's trying to limit its impact on the environment, and for the most part, the company appears to practice what it preaches. Most of the packaging—including the boxes and some of the material used for lining—is recyclable. Before adding the plastic jars and tops to your recycling bin, double check whether your community's recycling program accepts such items.

As for its food, Purple Carrot works with farmers across the U.S. to source its products. Most of the non-produce items (like beans, tofu, and tempeh) are organic, but some of the produce is non-organic. The company shares on its website that it's looking to increase the amount of organic items in each meal kit.

Credit: purplecarrot.com

Purple Carrot Customer Reviews

Purple Carrot has an average 4.1 stars out of 5 on Trustpilot based on more than 470 customer reviews. A representative from the meal delivery service typically responds to negative reviews within one week. Here are a few recent comments from actual subscribers.

Purple Carrot Customer Service

I had a few questions for the Purple Carrot team, so I utilized the company's online chat feature to get in touch with a representative. A team member got back to me right away. (Insider tidbit: After chatting with the customer service rep, Purple Carrot emailed me and asked if the employee should be given coffee, lunch, or a gift card for helping me—I picked the gift card!)

You can also contact customer service through email, hello@purplecarrot.com, or by calling 857-703-8188. You may even find the answer to your question in the FAQ section of the website. You don't have to contact customer service to cancel your subscription. Unlike other meal delivery services that make you jump through hoops to close your account, you can cancel without having to speak to a representative.

Purple Carrot vs. Other Meal Delivery Services

Purple Carrot is just one of a handful of meal kits I've tried over the past eight years or so. Before I gave up meat, I subscribed to Blue Apron for nearly a year and really enjoyed it. Like Purple Carrot, Blue Apron introduced me to new foods and cooking techniques that I still use to this day.

However, once I moved to a different state and had a child, I realized I had little (read: zero) time to cook, so I started a subscription with Daily Harvest, a vegan delivery service known for its quick bites and smoothies. I order the brand's oatmeal bowls, lattes, and, of course, smoothies, all of which come frozen and take only minutes (or seconds) to prepare. Right now, Daily Harvest is the best fit for my lifestyle, but as my son gets older and becomes more interested in food, I can see myself subscribing to Purple Carrot for the long haul.

Purple Carrot: My Final Take

My overall rating for Purple Carrot is a 9.2 out of 10. I highly recommend the company to anyone who's thinking of trying out a meal delivery service—especially people who want to eat more plants but might not know how to incorporate them into their meals.

One of the biggest benefits to trying Purple Carrot is that it introduced me to new foods that I would have never thought to build a meal around. Who knew beluga lentils and tofu chunks could be so delicious? Newly converted vegetarians and vegans may also want to give the delivery service a shot, even temporarily, to help them transition to a new eating pattern and teach them how to create nutritionally complete plant-based meals. Unsurprisingly, meat and fish fans likely won't be satisfied by the brand's offerings.

Sign up now: From $72/week; purplecarrot.com. (Use code Simple35 for $35 off.)

Factors What it means Numerical ranking (1 - 10)

Taste

Meals have a balanced and delicious flavor and consistency.

10

Ease of Preparation

The service provides easy-to-follow instructions for preparing and cooking the meal.

7.5

Quality of Ingredients

Ingredients are high quality and fresh. They are in good shape when they arrive.

9.5

Dietary Customization

There are options for users to note dietary restrictions and preferences. Choosing these options is easy to do, and there are plenty of meal/food options for these preferences.

8

Meal Variety

This service provides a variety of meals, cuisines, and flavors to avoid meal repeats and provide users with new dishes to explore.

10

Health

Meals are healthy and provide balanced nutrients.

10

Availability

The service is available to consumers in a variety of locations.

9

Portion Size

Portion sizes are reasonable and filling. You don't need to supplement the meal with additional food because you're left hungry.

10

Price

The price is reasonable for the quality of food you receive.

9

Subscription

The subscription/plan offers reasonable customization. You're able to adjust or cancel your order within a reasonable time frame.

9

Shipping

The meals arrived on time. The packaging kept things fresh and in good condition. You're able to provide delivery instructions if needed.

9

Customer Service

How quickly customer service responds to queries, the level of detail they provide, and how helpful the team is overall.

10

Social Impact

Takes into consideration a company's social missions, charitable causes, and sustainability efforts. Products are sourced ethically. Packaging is recyclable or sustainable.

9