If you’re active on social media, you have likely seen ads for meal prep kits, in which a company ships customers a box of ingredients and the recipes needed to cook meals at home.
Some people subscribe to these services and receive kits weekly to take some of the guesswork out of their meal preparation, while others buy one-off kits for busy weeks or as a special treat.
Purple Carrot is one of these services — but a little different. It is a 100% plant-based delivery meal kit that provides subscribers with three plant-based dinners a week. All ingredients are included, and the only things home cooks need to have on hand are kitchen staples like salt and cooking oil.
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I love to cook and often experiment in the kitchen, but not dining out and spending more time at home in the past few months has put me in a bit of a rut food-wise, so I jumped at the chance to try the dinner subscription service. (Disclaimer: Purple Carrot provided RADIO.COM with a complementary kit for the purposes of this review.)
Don't be intimidated by fully plant-based meals
Though I have taken minor stints into the world of pescatarian and vegetarian diets in the past, vegan food has always intimidated me because I worried that I wouldn’t be getting the right nutrients or that I’d end up leaning too heavily on things like pasta and rice.
I was excited to have a guide that could help me create plant-based meals that were balanced and, most importantly, tasted good. I’ve tried other meal kit services in the past that include animal products in their recipes, but after trying Purple Carrot, I plan to include more plant-based recipes into my diet overall.
The kits I prepared included all of the ingredients necessary to make the following recipes:
—Tofu peanut stir-fry with charred green beans and midnight grains
—Kimchi quesadillas with togarashi sweet potato fries and lemon aioli
—Green dal with roasted eggplant and kale
What you need to know about the Purple Carrot kits
Purple Carrot ships to the contiguous United States, and ships their meal kits in a large cardboard box that includes gel packs to keep the food cold, similar to other meal kit services. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the ingredients were bundled together in the box.
Whenever I purchase a meal kit, the first thing I do is separate all of the ingredients into their respective recipes to store together in the fridge. This gives me a chance to make sure nothing is damage, leaking, or missing, so having part of that step already handled was helpful.
Purple Carrot also provides a booklet with all of the recipes for the meal choices that week (customers can pick from different plans like High Protein, Chef's Choice, Gluten-free, Quick & Easy) so if there’s something you wanted to try, you can still make it at home even if you didn’t select that meal for your kit.
The cooking process
All around, the meals were very easy to make. The directions were simple to follow and the amount of time that they take to prepare is fairly accurate for a single cook. There were a few times where I found myself waiting for certain ingredients to finish cooking before being able to move to the next step, but using that downtime to clean as you go (especially if there are two people preparing the meal!) means fewer dishes to do after dinner.
All three recipes only required one or two pots or pans and a baking dish, and the bulk of the labor is spent chopping ingredients, so you can throw on a podcast and have a meal ready to eat in 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the recipe.
Meal kits can be hit or miss in terms of portion size, and I was worried that without animal protein I’d be left hungry. But the portions for these meals were large enough to feed two adults, or if you have a smaller appetite or want to share with a child, the food could easily be split into three portions.
If you like spicy food, this meal kit is fantastic. Each of the recipes had a spicy element that you could add to taste, which was great. I tend to cook with more salt than the recipes called for so I found myself adding salt to the finished plates, but overall, I really liked the blend of flavors.
The stars of all three dishes were the sauces, which were bright, flavorful and aromatic and punched up the recipes substantially, and I appreciated the variety of ingredients in all three recipes. I especially enjoyed the tofu — it was a good reminder that doing something as simple as changing the technique for cooking one ingredient can change a whole meal.
The kimchi quesadillas were my favorite meal overall. I cook Mexican food several times a week and experiment a lot with Korean recipes, so this was a fun way of blending them together, and I plan on incorporating this recipe into my weeknight rotation: it’s fun and easy, and I always have the ingredients necessary on hand.
For the sake of this article I stuck to the recipes exactly, but I’m one of those people that doubles or triples the amount of garlic that most recipes call for, so in the future I’d add more garlic (they give you a whole head with each box!) and a bit more salt to the recipes.
Would I get another meal kit from Purple Carrot? Absolutely. I was impressed by the quality of the ingredients and the diversity in the recipes. The flavors were great and the meals were very filling, and it was a nice departure from my usual repertoire. At $11.99 a meal, it costs less than getting takeout but the food is elevated enough that it feels like a restaurant-quality meal.
If you’d like to check it out for yourself, click here and use code VEGGIE30 for $30 off your first kit.