Healthy, vegan meals
Fresh ingredients with good flavor twists
Great online interface
Meal kits require a lot of cooking
No customizations allowed
Expensive for vegetable-heavy meals
Purple Carrot is one of a handful of plant-based meal delivery companies in the United States. With almost a decade in the business, the service has clearly ironed out a lot of the kinks of meal delivery. The website is streamlined and easy to use to both order and change meals and the food we ordered was delivered in good condition and right on time.
Purple Carrot has even partnered with folks such as NFL quarterback Tom Brady to design meal plans and recipes for a plant-based lifestyle. We tried out Purple Carrot to see if the service matched our expectations.
How It Works: Easy Setup, but Few Options
We found the onboarding for Purple Carrot to be about as easy as it gets. Simply choose the number of meals you want each week and whether you want two or four servings. This is a little inflexible if you have kids. Ideally, there would be a three-serving option or smaller portions for families, so if you have a family of four, you might find yourself with leftovers for each meal.
Your price is then set based on the number of meals and the first week’s meals are recommended to you. If you would like, you can change the meals and choose from a list of options. We found the recommended meals to be interesting, but it is nice to look through the available options.
Choosing Meals: Enough Options
Purple Carrot always has a few basic meals that it recommends to you each week. We aren’t sure if this is based on previous orders or if they recommend the same meals to each customer. It is easy enough to change those meals by selecting other options that are available each week, some of which will be regularly rotating choices and some new meals.
There are meal kits that require prep and cooking and heat-and-eat meals that only need to be reheated. We selected items from the list of meal kits.
What We Made
- Sesame ginger noodles
- Cumin black bean bowls
Support Materials: Website Only
We were surprised to see that Purple Carrot doesn’t include printed recipes in the delivery, especially given the preparation difficulty. It would’ve been nice to have them on hand.
The company does, however, offer full recipe instructions on its website and you can access them at any point, even if you have canceled your account. It’s not very easy to cook alongside a laptop though, and the recipes were hard to read on a phone, so we found that printing the recipes was best.
Packaging: A Good Mix
The Purple Carrot box had a lot of produce in it, and for the most part, it was packaged smartly in recyclable plastic or just in the box with no packaging. Luckily, each meal was wrapped in a large, recyclable plastic bag, so it made it easy to know which ingredients are for what recipe since there were so many different ingredients in the box. It would’ve been hard to sort it out if they weren’t grouped.
There were a few small containers for sauces and oils that would be reusable if you were so inclined, but we just tossed those in the trash. The rest of the materials in our box were recycled.
The Cooking Process: Put on Your Chef’s Hat
The first recipe we tried was the ginger sesame noodles. It had uncommon vegetables in the ingredient list (e.g., gai lan) that would’ve been hard to source for many home cooks. The recipe required a fair amount of chopping and some of the amounts were confusing until we figured out that each recipe is written for both the two- and four-serving deliveries, and it's up to you to determine that. An experienced chef would have no problem, but a beginner home cook might struggle with the directions. The finished recipe had great flavor and we appreciated the bonus chili sauce for extra heat, which we thought the recipe needed.
The second recipe had a South American, beans-and-rice feel. We were half-heartedly hoping to get at least par-cooked rice for less cooking, but no such luck. The box included almost nothing premade except for the beans. At a minimum, it would’ve been nice to have the salsa already made, but instead, the recipe requires broiling tomatillos and peppers together to make a quick, chunky salsa. The fresh flavor was nice, but it left the kitchen a mess. We found this recipe to be less of a win than the noodle dish and the instructions were very hard to follow. Plus, it has standard flavors and wasn’t exactly a time saver. However, we were pleasantly surprised by the vegan sour cream (coconut-based) in this recipe. It had a bright flavor and a nice creaminess to it.
Flavor, Freshness, and Quality: Nailed It
Minus a tomatillo that was a bit past its prime, almost all the ingredients sent to us in the box were very fresh and ready to cook or store for a few days in the fridge without worry. It was nice to not feel like we had to make the recipes immediately before the ingredients start to lose freshness.
The meals we ordered were plant-based, so there was no meat or dairy to be concerned with. The vegan cheese and sour cream were just fine and the boxed black beans were great—and a nice upgrade from just a can of black beans. Overall, the freshness of Purple Carrot was excellent.
Nutritional Value: Check the Website
Purple Carrot doesn’t include nutritional information in the delivery, but it does give fairly thorough nutritional info at the time of meal selection, or you can check back on the individual recipe page at any point.
The noodle recipe we made had 720 calories, 24g of fat, 4g of saturated fat, 22g of protein, 1280mg of sodium, and 97g of carbohydrates. The bean bowl contained 680 calories, 18g of fat, 4g of saturated fat, 23g of protein, 320mg of sodium, and 103g of carbohydrates.
Purple Carrot Is Good For
A plant-based household with at least one person who is a skilled home cook and has time to cook and clean would appreciate Purple Carrot. And because of the heat-and-eat options available, plant-based eaters who don't cook would also likely enjoy this service.
Purple Carrot Is Not Good For
A vegan family who wants to cook a bit in the kitchen but has some time limitations and doesn’t want to start from scratch or microwave dinner may not find Purple Carrot to be a good fit for them.
Add-ons: Some Basics
Purple Carrot does have add-ons that you can place on your meal delivery each week. These include some breakfast and dessert items like overnight oats, vegan cookies, and brownies. There are also a few items on a rotating basis from what Purple Carrot calls its Plantry, things like almond milk chocolate bars and vegan marshmallows.
Customer Service: Excellent Chat Service
Purple Carrot offers a few different customer service options. We contacted them via an online chat regarding some of the steps in the black bean bowls and the customer service representative was very quick to give a courteous, helpful reply. You can also contact Purple Carrot via email and phone.
The vegan cheese and sour cream were just fine and the boxed black beans were great—and a nice upgrade from just a can of black beans.
Making Changes and Canceling: No Problems
As long as you hit the deadlines each week for skipping or changing the meal plans, Purple Carrot has an incredibly easy and streamlined account setup online. It's actually one of the better ones we’ve tested. Changing meals each week is no problem and you can skip as many weeks as you would like. Canceling your account is easy as well. If you choose to come back, Purple Carrot saves your information so you can reactivate your account and start where you left off.
The Competition: Purple Carrot vs. Hungryroot
These two meal delivery companies are very different and based on your dietary needs and cooking experience, you can land on one or the other. While Purple Carrot is completely plant-based, Hungryroot is health-focused but not entirely plant-based.
Also, the amount of cooking each plan involves varies a lot. While both deliver groceries, essentially, Purple Carrot delivers mostly raw ingredients that must be prepped, processed, and cooked. Hungryroot ships some raw ingredients but also prepares items like sauces that are the backbone of the recipe. Ultimately, Hungryroot requires less cooking for most recipes, but if you are looking for completely plant-based meal plans, Purple Carrot is your best option.
If you are eating a plant-based diet and have plenty of time to cook your own dinners, Purple Carrot will deliver fresh ingredients for its recipes. It can be a great option if you are in a recipe rut and want to switch up your meals, especially because you can skip weeks or cancel entirely. However, due to the work involved with each recipe, it’s not a good fit for time-crunched families.
We spent numerous hours looking through 48 meal delivery services’ websites, ordered meals and cooked them at home, photographed the process, spoke with customer service representatives from the companies, filled out detailed surveys about each company and their meals, and wrote in-depth reviews and comparison articles. Our expert panel includes dieticians, chefs, and longtime food writers. The one thing they all have in common is their love and knowledge of food.
The criteria we used to evaluate each company included:
- The ordering process
- Meal selection
- Packaging and support materials
- The cooking process
- The flavor, freshness, and quality of each meal and ingredient
- Nutritional information
- Customer service
- Product Name Purple Carrot
- Lowest Price per Serving $9.99
- Number of Diets Served 5
- Number of Recipes 27
- Delivery Area 48 States
- Serving Sizes Available 2, 4