Welcome to another unboxing and end-to-end review. This week, I’m looking at Purple Carrot, a Massachusetts based subscription service that delivers fresh, plant-based meals with included recipe cards to conveniently prepare vegan dinners at home.
Keep reading for my full top to bottom review, or if you’re limited on reading time, click here to jump to my concluding thoughts.
So first of all, why plants? As you may know, with more and more research connecting our health to diet, an increasing number of Americans are moving towards semi-vegetarian and “Flexitarian” food selection that includes more plants and less meat.
On top of that, add in a growing awareness of the types of antibiotics and hormones involved in the production of meat, the environmental impact, and reports on the maltreatment of livestock on farms, and it’s no wonder why a company like Purple Carrot has risen to the top of the food delivery market.
The company positions itself as a healthy, environmentally-conscious provider of gourmet meals that serves as an alternative to a meat-based diet and can contend with other meal-kit delivery services in the field.
Here’s the company’s mission statement in their own words: Empowering People to Eat More Plants. Our vision is a world where plant-based eating is a mainstream choice to improve health, our environment, and animal welfare.
As always, let’s start with price. Purple Carrot currently offers three primary plan options for 1-2 people. Each week, you get three recipes to cook (regardless of your plan) meals with enough food for up to two people. It’s important to note that Purple Carrot gives their prices in terms of servings, not whole meals (two servings to a meal).
What are the plans you have to choose from? The first plan is Chef’s Choice (the one I ordered), but you can also choose the Quick and Easy option for fast cooking if short on time, or the High Protein plan if you’re training for a road race (such as your writer).
Here’s are the price breakdowns:
Chef’s Choice of 3 meals per week: $12/serving + Free Shipping (weekly total $72)
Quick & Easy of 3 meals per week: $12/serving + Free Shipping (weekly total $72)
High Protein of 3 meals per week: $12/serving + Free Shipping (weekly total $72)
The culinary team at Purple Carrot curates weekly menus for each plan, so you and I don’t have to worry about how to assemble the ingredients into (hopefully) something edible. They also offer you the option to customize the meals you receive each week, to accommodate individual preferences. I think the flexibility here is great, and I’ve included photos deeper in the article. Click here to check out their full list of upcoming meals.
Purple Carrot also offers a specialty plan option in collaboration with New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady, called TB12 Performance Meals. With it, you get recipes that, on average, are higher in protein and calories to fuel peak performance, be it ‘at the gym, on the field, or at work’. All TB12 Performance meals are gluten-free, limited in refined sugars and soy, and entirely plant based.
Like all of the other plans, the TB12 plans come in sets of 3 meals per week, though at $13/serving, are a dollar more expensive than the other three options. With free shipping, weekly total will run you $78 dollars. Being part of the TB12 plan also means unlocking exclusive TB12 content, and qualifying for giveaways.
TB12 Performance Plan of 3 meals per week: $13/meal + Free Shipping (weekly total $78)
Other significant points that I want to note, are that Purple Carrot doesn’t charge a sign-up or cancellation fee, and allows you to pause your subscription up to 11:59 on the Tuesday before shipment. If you want to try different plans across the weeks, it’s easy to switch between options on your account.
Purple Carrot offers delivery on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays in a large marked that looks like this:
The box arrived in decent shape, though slightly crunched on the right, and included a sticker on the side that listed where the produce and other ingredients are sourced from. Most of the food comes from California, specifically Ventura County in Southern California, but is also sourced outside the U.S. from Mexico, China, and India.
It’s great to see when food is sourced from. While most comes from the U.S., some ingredients come from Mexico, India, and China. Would prefer to have local ingredients.
In line with all of the other services reviewed to date, the box opens up to recipes sitting on top of a thick, fully recyclable insulating layer. Here’s a closeup of what was included in the first box:
German Style Carrot Dogs (with Pretzel Buns and Dijon Potato Salad)
Stuffed Sweet Potato (with Cucumber Chickpea Salad and Miso Tahini)
Filipino Barbecue Skewers (with Summer Squash and Jasmine Rice)
And menus from the second box:
Italian Stuffed Zucchini (with Herb “Sausage” and Basil Crema)
Pan Seared Tofu (with Rice Noodles and Ginger Tamari Sauce)
Crispy Black Bean Tacos (with Mango Avocado Salsa)
As a general comment, there were small details included on the recipes from different boxes I’ve reviewed that I didn’t come to appreciate until I started doing side by side comparisons. Pros with Purple Carrot are that they included the actual cookware that I needed to prepare all of the food. Cons are that they don’t include an allergen warning, or general nutritional information with a facts label.
Opening it up, and all the ingredients are pre-sorted into three clear, plastic bags (three recipes)
Two impressions here: one con, and one pro. I’ll start with the con, in that nothing says “not green” more than opening up a box to plastic, on plastic, on plastic. I’m including this because other companies like HelloFresh and Green Chef do this well, by sorting ingredients into brown, compostable paper bags. Just a small change visually that in my opinion, goes a long way in aligning around the philosophy of being environmentally aware.
On the other hand, having all of the produce organized by recipe was very helpful and time saving. Having to go through each recipe to account for individual ingredients is painstaking and something that can be solved, as is here.
This might be more of a commentary on my (improving) cooking and knife skills, but I found the time to prep and cook ran a few minutes longer than what was included on the recipes. On my count, between the peeling, chopping, dicing, and other prep, the recipes took longer to finish. For those who are new chefs, or haven’t spent much time around a cutting board, be prepared for this step to run longer than estimated.
I’ll admit that I was skeptical of an entirely plant-based diet, both around taste and whether I’d be getting enough protein around half-marathon training this summer. Overall though, I was impressed by the quality of the food Purple Carrot sent me; all of the vegetables were fresh, and I felt they sent larger portions across the six meals I tried, than the plan had stated.
Here are some pictures of the raw ingredients:
All of the ingredients were freshly picked exempt the canned beans). No wilting stems or brown patches, and I enjoyed the BBQ seasoning.
The Carrot Dogs were surprisingly tasty, especially with the carrots being charred. All ingredients here are the same as a regular bratwurst or hotdog minus the meat.
The salad was delicious. Yes, the dish is plant-based but I would prepare and eat something like this regardless of being vegetarian or not. The dill and raw red-onion together go well on top of a simple base of potatoes, kidney beans and salt.
Again, ingredients were freshly picked (exempt the jackfruit which came in a can). I think the highlight was actually the tamari/ketchup/brown sugar sauce on top of the skewers. Closest flavor I can relate it to is teriyaki or another semi-sweet sauce.
While not my favorite, the skewers were filling. Jackfruit has an interesting consistency and likely substituted for beef or chicken in a traditional recipe. This recipe called for using the oven, and I’d suggest using a sheet of aluminum foil in future recipes, since some of the sauces I created were very, very hard to clean off post-meal.
Strong in freshness and flavor overall.
Purple Carrot includes a page on their website dedicated to recycling, and as mentioned, sends ingredients in recycled cardboard box. While the recycling page isn’t as extensive as Green Chef and some of the other companies I’ve reviewed, the company backs up their philosophy of staying environmentally (and plant) friendly by using reusable, recyclable, biodegradable, or compostable packaging to the best of their ability.
The company also runs a blog, and published a video and article around Earth Day with ideas on how to upcycle the plastics and cardboard included in the box. Some solutions to keep plastic of bings, and trash out of landfills: use plastic cups as organizers, jars to grow plants, small cardboard boxes used to protect avocados as tea bag organizers. You can get creative with how you use the packaging, like using it to host a DIY paint night.
The disposal instructions included with the ice packs states that the outer wrapping is recyclable anywhere that accepts number 4 type plastic, and that to dispose, we should cut a corner off each pack, drain the nontoxic gel into a separate bag, and then recycle the wrapping. From my experience, this practice is almost identical to what other companies are doing. This process seems messy and will produce more trash since the instructions are to use another bag to drain the gel into.
On the other-hand, because most of Purple Carrot’s ingredients are plants, there’s a lot more byproduct that can be composted, which is an overall positive.
All in all, Purple Carrot is a great option for vegetarians and vegans looking to try meal-kit delivery services. I found the produce fresh and high quality, and with enough protein from a variety of beans and legumes to create full meals across the week. The overall price-point seemed high to me, particularly because produce in my experience is generally less expensive than meat, and that Purple Carrot doesn’t guarantee that all of their produce is organic. I was impressed by the flavorings that were included with the meals, and think that along with a mission of going green, this serves as a great alternative to other mainstream services. Not for those limited on time, but a solid option for those opting to develop cooking skills alongside more plant-based eating.
by Insider Envy Staff