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My Purple Carrot Review: How I Used It for Vegan Meal Prep

My Purple Carrot Review

A Meal Kit for Vegan Recipes

Pros: 

  • “Plant-based” vegan dinners + optional breakfasts & lunches.
  • Skip or schedule boxes up to 5 weeks ahead.
  • Choose your recipes or let Purple Carrot pick.
  • Great way for newer cooks to practice in the kitchen.

Cons: 

  • Gluten-free? Options are limited & not certified gluten-free.
  • Smallest plan is over $70—not friendly for all budgets.

My Verdict: 

Purple Carrot helped me infuse healthy, nutritious meals into my weekly routine and pushed me to cook at home. The pre-portioned ingredients and clear instructions offered the extra hand-holding I needed as a less-experienced cook. I won’t always have the budget or time for weekly Purple Carrot deliveries, but I really liked the food. Luckily, Purple Carrot’s flexible system makes it easy to skip and schedule boxes as I want them.

Get $30 off your first box with code CARROT30

by Anna Reilly, MSA Reviewer, Kitchen Newbie
September 20, 2019| 4 comments

My Subscription Addiction paid for this box. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)

About Purple Carrot

Plans & Pricing

  • 2 Serving Plan: 3 meals per week (each serves 2) for $11.99 per serving ($71.94 per week) + free shipping
  • 6 Serving Plan: 2 meals per week (each serves 6) for $7.99 per serving ($95.88 per week) + free shipping

Purple Carrot also offers smaller recipes for lunches (2 servings each) and breakfasts (4 servings each) that you can add to your weekly orders for an additional cost. Extras cost $24 each.

Purple Carrot ships free to the contiguous 48 states.

I received my tracking information and order via Lasership. A few tips for working with Lasership:

  • No signature is required, which means boxes may be left outside. (Oddly, Lasership didn’t use the Ring doorbell at my office, so the box was outside for a little while before I realized it was there.)
  • Use that “Special Delivery Instructions” field during checkout to note if there’s a safe spot to leave your box, a buzzer they should use to enter your building, etc. There’s no harm in providing lots of detail!
  • Purple Carrot boxes are equipped with insulation and cold packs to keep the fresh contents in good condition during shipping. That also means your package should survive outside for a little while without getting funky. Still, I recommend picking a shipping destination that allows you to bring your box inside shortly after it arrives.

Purple Carrot uses recyclable materials to package and ship its products. Double check with your local recycling program to make sure they handle the specific items you might find in your Purple Carrot boxes. Those items include:

  • Cardboard boxes
  • TemperPack Climacell (100% curbside recyclable and compostable)
  • TemperPack Fiber Liner (#4 plastic wrapping around post-consumer recycled insulation, which must go in the trash)
  • Bubble liner (#7 plastic)
  • Cooling packs (#4 plastic wrapping around material that goes in the trash. I’ve also kept these packs intact in my freezer and reused them in my cooler, etc.)
  • Jars and jar tops (#6 and #5 plastic, but also perfectly reusable in the kitchen, for odds and ends, crafts, etc.)
  • Bottles (#1 plastic)
  • Plastic bags (#4 plastic)
  • Third party packaging, such as cans for canned goods, or boxes of sauces or beans. Check these items individually for recycling info.

You can find Purple Carrot’s recycling tips and information here.

Purple Carrot Recipes

Purple Carrot makes vegan, plant-based dishes inspired by a variety of cuisines, including Italian, Indian, Japanese, Middle Eastern, and American fare. Their menu is constantly rotating and changing, which is nice for palates than tend to get bored eating the same dishes over and over again.

To give you a better idea of what kinds of food Purple Carrot offers, here are some examples of recipes that were in my “Upcoming Menus” section at the time of writing this review:

  • Broccoli Mac N’ Cheese with Artichoke Hearts & Oregano Breadcrumbs
  • Pulled BBQ Jackfruit Sandwiches with Coleslaw & Pickles
  • Thai Coconut Corn Chowder with Fresh Chile & Lime
  • Biang Biang Noodles with Seitan & Chili Oil
  • Vegan Chick’n & Dumplings with Oyster Mushrooms & Green Beans

You can also see full recipes for past Purple Carrot dishes here.

Purple Carrot provides almost all of the pre-portioned ingredients you need to make these meals (such as vegetables, vegan proteins, canned goods, seasonings, and sauces), but not everything. I recommend reading all the way through each recipe before you start cooking to make sure you’ve got what you need.

Here are the pantry staples Purple Carrot expects you to provide:

  • Vegetable and olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Non-dairy milk (specifically for Extras recipes)

And here are the kitchen tools Purple Carrot expects you to have handy:

  • Small/medium saucepan
  • Large pot (for pasta or boiling ingredients)
  • Large non-stick skillet
  • Large oven-safe skillet (This is one I didn’t expect!)
  • Baking dish/baking sheet
  • Cutting board/set of knives (From my experience, a good chef’s knife and a paring knife will take you pretty far.)
  • Strainer
  • Blender/food processor
  • General kitchen tools (Spatula, spoons…)
  • Heat-safe mixing bowls

If you’re a fan of easy clean-up, I’d add aluminum foil to that list. (I like to put some aluminum foil down on a baking sheet before I cook with it, so I can just remove the foil lining instead of scrubbing down the pan. This move was also helpful back when I only owned one baking sheet—other meal kits have had recipes that required two sheets.) Another thing I’d mention is to make sure you have matching lids for those pots—some Purple Carrot recipes include rice or quinoa, which requires a covered pot. Oh, and a peeler and measuring cups/spoons! Most Purple Carrot ingredients will come pre-portioned, but sometimes you’ll be asked to use a cup of water or a tablespoon of olive oil in scenarios where it’s better not to eyeball it.

Preferences & Allergens

Purple Carrot is a vegan meal kit, so you won’t find any meat, cheese, nor dairy in these recipes. You can set additional preferences for gluten-free, high-protein, or quick-and-easy meals. That said, Purple Carrot is NOT certified gluten-free. If you’re avoiding gluten, it’ll probably work fine, but if you have a serious allergy, this program may not be stringent enough for you.

Here’s what Purple Carrot says about allergens, etc.:

Our facilities process wheat, gluten, walnuts, almonds, peanuts, and other nuts and nut products regularly. At this time, we are unable to make substitutions in any recipe to remove specific allergens, nor are we able to guarantee that orders are 100% free of any allergen that is processed in our distribution facilities.

From what I could tell, Purple Carrot pre-set my account to have no dietary preferences when I signed up. If you’d like to set preferences, go into your My Profile page, choose “Edit” on the “Plans” section, reiterate whether you’d like the 2 or 6 person plan, and you’ll get a pop up of the preferences.

Note that setting preferences may limit the number of menu items for you to pick and choose from each week. There should be at least three recipes to fit your needs each week… but maybe only three. I’d also recommend that if you do have specific dietary needs, you double check the nutrition facts for the recipes before you add them to your order.

My Purple Carrot Review

Why Purple Carrot?

I’m someone who aims to eat healthy, but I often fall short. I was curious about using Purple Carrot as a way to infuse more veggies into my weekly routine. My thinking was that I could use these vegetable-rich meals as a healthy foundation. I don’t trust myself to quit on things like egg sandwiches or milkshakes cold turkey, but if I commit to something like Purple Carrot, I’ll at least be able to balance those more decadent moments out with healthy, wholesome meals.

Because I’m short on time most evenings, I cooked all of my Purple Carrot dishes in one go, packing up and storing the rest in the fridge to eat throughout the week. You don’t have to treat Purple Carrot like a meal prep program—the recipes are actually created with busy people in mind, so they should only take about an hour or so of your time each night to prepare. But that also means that they don’t take all that long to make all at once, either! I’ll talk more about the food later in this review, but I can say that eating dishes as “leftovers” worked really well for me! (The dishes I tried kept/reheated really nicely.)

Signing Up

It only took a minute for me to sign up for Purple Carrot. Here’s how it works:

  • Head to their site.
  • Hit one of the “Get Started” buttons. (There are a few across the homepage.)
  • Enter an email address.
  • Pick your plan. (2-Serving Plan for $71.94/week or 6-Serving Plan for $95.88/week)
  • Enter your billing info.
  • Confirm your order!

Once I finished checkout, I was sent to my account page to start customizing my upcoming shipments (a.k.a. the fun part).

My Purple Carrot Menus

This menu page is what I see when I log in to my Purple Carrot account. From here, I can:

  • Preview what recipes are available for up to five weeks in the future.
  • Check when my weekly boxes are set to arrive.
  • Skip a delivery if I’m unavailable, out of town, or too busy to cook for the week.
  • Browse Extras, Purple Carrot’s menu of breakfasts and lunches, to include as add-ons to my order.

I can also click into any week of the calendar to view the full menu for the week, see what I’m set to receive, and make changes/additions to my order.

If I scroll to the bottom of a week’s menu, I can browse Extras, which are breakfasts and lunches I can add on to my order. Lunches (2 servings each) and breakfasts (4 servings each) all end up costing $24 each on top of the base cost of your meal plan.

My Meals

Here are the dishes I picked for my latest Purple Carrot order. (Swipe right on each picture to see photos of the cooking process!) Note that each of the finished dishes amounts for about one serving of each of the recipes. And as mentioned earlier, I cooked all of these dishes right in a row one afternoon, then packed everything up into containers and popped them into the fridge to eat throughout the week. (Purple Carrot gets an A+ from me in regards to leftovers—everything kept beautifully, reheated nicely, and tasted great, even a few days into the week.)

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    Cauliflower Kale Caesar with Crispy Butter Beans & Walnuts

    The beans in this dish were a real revelation. I’m guilty of stereotyping salads as kind of wimpy, one-note, or otherwise unsubstantial, probably because when I make them, I get about as creative as dumping Spring Mix into a bowl. The kale in this salad is coupled nicely with seasoned, roasted cauliflower, walnuts, and big, buttery beans that you brown up in a pan for a few short minutes. Cauliflower is great and walnuts are super healthy and yummy, but I tell ya, those creamy, warm, hearty beans are what made this salad memorable. Beans are so inexpensive at the store, plus they only took a moment to prepare! I love learning about an ingredient that’s low-effort, but big on impact.

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      Congee with Black Pepper Tempeh & Asparagus

      Ugh, rice. I struggle so much with making rice in a pot, especially on my old, inconsistent stove. I have a rice cooker, but for the sanctity of this recipe, I decided to try cooking the rice Purple Carrot’s way. As you can see in my photos, the “simmer” I set unexpectedly upgraded to a raging boil—I then under-did it, leaving my rice to take an extra 5 minutes or so to fully cook. There was a good crust of rice along the bottom of the pot by the end… but plenty of fluffy, creamy rice on top of that. PHEW! And because this rice recipe included coconut milk, ginger, and lime—the creaminess and enticing flavors disguised any imperfections/overcooking my rice may or may not have undergone.

      The tempeh in the recipe was impossibly easy to cook. I just browned it in a pan with a nice shower of black pepper. I’d not worked with tempeh before, though I’d enjoyed it in other peoples’ recipes before. The asparagus was also easy to cook up, though I wish there’d been a bit more of the green stuff in the recipe. The thick, hearty quality of the rice and tempeh overwhelmed the asparagus, and I was left wanting a little more fresh, vegetable flavor and texture. The congee was yummy overall, and definitely something I could see myself turning to as a chilly weather comfort food, maybe with a healthy heap of steamed/stir-fried broccoli on top.

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        New Delhi Channa Dal with Quinoa & Tomato Cucumber Salad

        For whatever reason, cooking lentils proved to be a much steadier, simple process than my rice adventure, despite the process (bring to a boil, lower to a simmer) was essentially the same. I liked the little detail of toasting sliced almonds to top the dish, though this garnish is something I would’ve totally skipped if left to my own devices. It was tasty, but didn’t leave a resounding enough impression to warrant dirtying a whole other pan. (My tiny kitchen and tiny sink hold a lot of sway over my culinary decisions…)

        The finished dish has two/three components—a warm blend of curried lentils and chickpeas, a bed of plain quinoa, and a salad of cucumber and tomato with a simple lemon dressing. As you can see in the photo of my finished dish, I started with about a cup and a half of the quinoa, lentil, and chickpea mix and a cup of the salad. It seemed like not a ton of food, but it filled me up really nicely. I’m actually kind of glad that I started with my salad. (I wanted to get as many fresh veggies in me as I could before diving into the heartier stuff.) It was refreshing and yummy, though a little heavy on the cucumber.

        The bean dish, on the other hand, was a little one note to me. Though the dal included a small can of coconut milk, it ended up being pretty dry, especially compared to the almost soupy, gravy-like dal dishes I’ve had at restaurants. The quinoa only added more dry, nutty texture. It wasn’t bad by any means, it just didn’t impress me. The good news was that it didn’t take a ton of the dal mixture to fill me up, so I wound up getting three servings out of this two serving recipe. (I actually used my leftover dal to top a big green salad later in the week.) At one point, I actually thought to myself that the dal seemed like something I’d eat if I was a runner looking to carb up before a marathon. The dish wasn’t as dense as a pasta dish or something bready, but it still had that carb-y heft to it.

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          Extra: Overnight Banana Foster Chia Pudding

          This pudding was a breakfast I picked up as an add-on to my order. I was curious to try one of Purple Carrot’s Extras, but I’ll admit, they felt pricey off the bat. I’ve made chia pudding before on my own, and the beauty of the recipe is how much you can make with a relatively inexpensive bag of chia seeds and some nut milk. Even for six servings, $24 feels like a lot for what I got.

          That said, this recipe does bump the basic chia pudding up a notch. They include a small can of coconut milk, which gives an extra, pudding-y creaminess to the dish that I find is missing in simpler recipes. They also give you a small container of maple syrup, a little bag of diced up banana chips, and a cinnamon spiced granola-like mix to top the pudding. I really liked this combo—I sometimes had it as a breakfast and sometimes as a dessert throughout the week. If you’re not used to the consistency of chia pudding, that does take some getting used to. (It’s literally the stuff you paint on the sides of a Chia Pet—the texture, with the milk and coconut milk added in, reminds me more of a jam than a pudding, to be honest.) But the simplicity of the thing (mixing up your seeds and milks and setting it in the fridge overnight) along with the health value (chia seeds are super nutritious, filling, and light) makes this a recipe I’ll turn back to again, for sure. The combination of toppings, in particular!

          Is Purple Carrot worth it?

          So, now that I’ve tried Purple Carrot, would I recommend it to a friend? Here’s my verdict:

          Did it taste good?

          Yes! On the whole, I was really impressed by the flavors. There are definitely things I’d change about each recipe to make it play better with my palette (adding more veggies here, adding a little more creaminess there), but on the whole, everything was really tasty. I appreciated that Purple Carrot doesn’t play it too safe, flavor-wise, as their recipes take cues from a myriad of different cuisines. My three dinner recipes were diverse enough that I never felt like I was boring my tastebuds with the same flavors over and over again. Plus, they lead to particularly good leftovers.

          It’s helpful to remember, too, that you’re in control with these ingredients. Not a fan of black pepper? Don’t add it. Prefer a different salad dressing? Skip the one they include for something in your own fridge. Wish a dish had a bit more oomph? Give it another pinch of salt. It’s actually really fun figuring out these little tweaks, as tiny as they may seem.

          How hard were the recipes?

          I was actually impressed by the recipes I tried with Purple Carrot. Aside from the fact that rice (at least rice cooked on my stove) and I are just not friends, all of the cooking went on without a hitch. The salad I made actually came together sooner than Purple Carrot had estimated, and I finished the other recipes I got within about 10 minutes of Purple Carrot’s stated time requirements.

          About a year ago, I’d given Purple Carrot a try, and I remember feeling like the recipes were more complicated than what my amateur cooking abilities were ready for. This time around, I feel like Purple Carrot was a bit more user-friendly. I find that a lot of vegan recipes I find online leave me feeling a bit like I’m doing a technical challenge on The Great British Bake Off. I found Purple Carrot’s recipes to be just challenging enough that I felt like I was really cooking (not just dumping ingredients in a bowl), but not so challenging to leave me confused or intimidated.

          Was it convenient?

          I don’t think it’ll be a weekly order for me, as my schedule and budget aren’t always consistent enough for something so routine. But I’m not opposed to keeping an account open and getting boxes from time to time. With a schedule as jam-packed as mine, I often underestimate how just researching/picking recipes and shopping for ingredients can be. A big part of why Purple Carrot was so nice was that it took that decision-making process off my to-do list. All I had to do was get the box and cook the food. If I foresee an open afternoon or evening to cook (or if I’m lucky, several open evenings), I could totally see getting one of these boxes and filling my fridge with homemade food for the week.

          I liked that the 2-serving plan really did deliver at least two servings of each dish (and some, three), which I could keep in my fridge and grab when I had a moment. The ingredients were fresh and in great condition when I received them and stayed in good shape for the following week. And most importantly, I thought the meals were tasty and unique. As a less-experienced cook, I also liked how Purple Carrot gave me practice in the kitchen. I can see myself making these recipes again with my own grocery store ingredients, or at the very least, using the know-how I gained from this process in future dishes I make myself.

          Should YOU try Purple Carrot?

          I’d recommend Purple Carrot to anyone who:

          • Is curious about going vegan, but doesn’t know where to start.
          • Is in the process of going vegan, but is bored/unimpressed with the dishes they’ve tried so far.
          • Wants to improve their confidence in the kitchen.
          • Needs help infusing healthy eating into their busy schedule.
          • Is looking for a low-effort way to plan and prep meals for the week.

          You can try Purple Carrot for yourself here:


          New to meal kits? Start here.

          We’ve reviewed all of the major meal kits, plus some programs you may not have heard of! Learn more about our favorite plans and some reader favorites in these helpful articles:

          Have you tried a meal kit like Purple Carrot? Tell us about your experience in the comments!


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          Written by Anna Reilly

          Anna Reilly

          Anna loves collecting little treasures, be they pop-culture finds, handmade mementos, or new potions to put in her makeup bag. Beauty boxes got her interested in the subscription world, but now she’s swooning for all things kawaii!

          4 Comments

          1. It’s telling me the code is invalid. 🤷🏼‍♀️

          2. Totally hear ya, Ragan. I’ve noticed the same thing you did with regards to vegetarian meal kits – some veggie plans really lean on grains or beans as a base for their dishes, which kicks up the calories per serving. Personally, I’m looking to replace the less nutritious foods I typically reach for in a pinch (bowls of pasta, toast, ramen noodles) with more nutrient-rich, plant-based options like the ones in Purple Carrot. I’m kinda okay with the food being calorie dense, so long as those calories aren’t ALL coming from things like bread and cheese, hehe! That said, I felt like my dishes were all pretty reasonable calorie-wise, especially given how filling they were:
            – Channa Dal: 750 cal/serving
            – Kale Caesar: 430 cal/serving
            – Congee: 620 cal/serving
            – Chia Pudding: 440 cal/serving

            Thanks for sharing your perspective! I love hearing what folks with different needs/bandwidth/lifestyles think of these services!

            • Maybe it comes from being in my 40s and settled in my ways but my husband and I plan out meals every week and go grocery shopping on Saturday morning and don’t typically have to rely on things in a pinch (I am sure it helps that we don’t have kids). I don’t think I was like that when I was still in grad school, though (ages 28-34), when I would do things like make a double-layer chocolate cake and eat it for breakfast every day until the whole cake was gone. But now we are already eating lots of (whole) grains and beans and vegetables. We are probably just not the target demographic for this type of service.

          3. I tried Purple Carrot back when it was new. We actually did one review back then and then my husband declared no more because he does most of the cooking at our house and he said taking all the photos took too much time. My main concern was that some of the single servings of dishes were upwards of 900 calories, which is honestly quite a lot (especially as I was trying to lose weight at the time — I would have to exercise for like 2 hours on the days we ate the 900-calorie meals).

            I think meal prep subscriptions are just not a good fit for us. So many of the vegetarian and/or vegan one put mushrooms in and mushrooms are something I absolutely refuse to eat, so some weeks we can’t even get a box because of the mushrooms. (Not saying this is or isn’t a problem with Purple Carrot as it’s really been a few years since we tried it.)

            Also we don’t eat white rice at home, only brown. We got rid of our rice cooker because it wasn’t very good at whole grains. (That’s another point of contention with most meal prep subscriptions — too many refined grains.)

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