We Tried Purple Carrot So You Don't Have To
The folks at Purple Carrot, a new vegan meal kit service, sent us two weeks of meals to try out and review. Their service is less intended for vegans and more for people looking to try incorporate plant-based meals into their diet in an easy way. Your options are a two person plan ($68) with three meals a week, or a family of four plan ($74) with two meals a week.
Imagine my excitement coming home from work and finding this on my door step. Still cold, despite the heat outdoors, the package was filled with three meal kits plus descriptions and instructions for each recipe.
[gallery ids="22279,22278" type="rectangular"]
Pasta Puttanesca with Herb Salad: The first recipe I tried, the pasta was satisfying and simple enough to make. The salad was also refreshingly lemony, but a measly portion for two people (see photo above) because half of the romaine lettuce was unusable due to pink mold.
[gallery ids="22276,22275" type="rectangular"]
Mongolian Seitan Stir-Fry: The best meal of my first week! This was a nicely balanced dish that was reminiscent of Asian take-out, it was something I'd actually make again. But yet again--I had to make do with less cabbage than the recipe called for due to throwing away leaves with black spots.
Jalapeño Corn Cakes with Fresh Bean Salad: A disaster of a meal. The pinto beans (see above) came in a rusty can (likely because of the water in the meal bag) and the rust-tinged water also made its way into the bag of cornmeal for the cakes. Since the two main ingredients were a bust, I scrapped the meal and planned on just cooking the [non-rust-covered] wax beans and corn for a salad. The beans were fine, but the corn had a sour odor to it...so that ended up in the trash too. There was a lot of wasted food that night.
[gallery ids="22282,22281" type="rectangular"]
Spicy Tofu "Wings" with Chopped Salad and Ranch: One of my favorite combos--hot sauce and vegan ranch. The baked tofu was supposed to be coated in hot sauce, but that element missing from the packaging. I used some from my own pantry, but it was a sad floppy affair since the tofu was not marinated and should have baked about twice as long as the instructions recommended. It was also a struggle to make the ranch, due to the tiny inconveniently-shaped Sir Kensington's Fabanaise jar from which I could only get scrape half of the sauce.
[gallery ids="22273,22272" type="rectangular"]
Not Your Mother's Meatloaf with Mushroom Gravy and Roasted Zucchini: I'm usually down for eating anything smothered in mushroom gravy, but nothing could save this "meatloaf" compiled from a bizarre combo of black eyed peas, green olives, and bread crumbs. Thankfully, the side dishes of zucchini and mashed potatoes were OK, especially when topped with the rich gravy.
[gallery ids="22270,22280" type="rectangular"]
Sicilian Roasted Vegetable and Rice Gratin: My favorite meal by far. This dish had only one error: the fresh basil was not included. I substituted dried from my pantry, but I'm sure fresh would have made this dish really pop. Loaded up with roasted vegetables and chewy rice accented with crunch from almond slivers, this recipe is a winner. I'll definitely be remaking it again with my own ingredients.
- Convenient: The box is delivered right to your front door.
- Realistic portions: The two-person dishes were the perfect size (as long as you can actually use all of the ingredients), so you won't have to worry about tiny servings.
- Poor quality ingredients: Several things had mold or were inedible for other reasons.
- Waste: Almost everything was packaged with non-reusable plastics bags.
- Missing ingredients: Two recipes were missing keys ingredients.
- Cost: At $11.33 per portion, these meals were not high enough quality to justify the pricetag.