I Tried the Meal Kits from Mark Bittman's The Purple Carrot and Here's What I Thought

I Tried the Meal Kits from Mark Bittman's The Purple Carrot and Here's What I Thought

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Ariel Knutson
Mar 23, 2016
(Image credit: Ariel Knutson)

Service: The Purple Carrot
Price: The Purple Carrot has two offerings. The first is for two people, three times a week, for $68. The second offering is for four people, twice a week, for $74 dollars.
Overall impression: Mark Bittman knows what he's doing. If you're in a cooking rut, but want something easy and healthy, The Purple Carrot is for you. This delivery service offers creative and delicious meals you can make in under an hour.

Creamy Polenta with Awesome Bolognese
(Image credit: Ariel Knutson)

The Purple Carrot: A Quick Summary

Characteristics and specs: The Purple Carrot wants to help you "cook plant-based meals at home." You choose the plan that's right for you, and then you receive a box a week full of recipe packages with pre-measured ingredients that help you make a delicious vegan meal. It assumes you have a few basic ingredients like olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Your box is shipped to you on Tuesday or Wednesday, and all the ingredients are GMO-free, ethically sourced, and mostly organic. Shipping is included and is available nationwide.

The recipes are created and tested by Mark Bittman and his team.

Favorite details: I love that the big, colorful recipe cards that come with each recipe have a quick snapshot of the estimated time of cooking and nutritional info. There's also instructional photos that accompany every recipe. Each box also comes with a nice newsletter based on what's in the box that week.

The Purple Carrot is a subscription service, but it's easy to pause, skip, or cancel at any time.

Potential problems: This is not the meal plan service for you if you don't want to get messy in the kitchen. A lot of the recipes I made required multiple cooking appliances. Not all of the recipes are for total beginner cooks, but the cooking photos do help.

There are only two options to choose from currently for The Purple Carrot: two people for three meals, or four people for two meals. This might be limiting — especially if you live by yourself.

Who would love this?: If you're trying to eat a little healthier, or have been interested (but intimidated) by veganism, this is the meal kit service for you. It's full of great vegetables, unique grains, and easy-to-follow recipes.

(Image credit: Ariel Knutson)

My Review of The Purple Carrot

When Mark Bittman announced that he was hanging up his apron as a regular columnist at The New York Times to join a "year-old food company," I was immediately intrigued. What incredible thing could possibly compel someone to leave a great writing gig like that? It had to be important.

When I found out it was a national vegan meal kit service, I wasn't surprised. Bittman's passion for helping people discover part-time veganism in VB6 just makes sense as a business venture — and Purple Carrot is exactly that.

I tried six meals from The Purple Carrot: three meals one week, and three meals a second week.

Week 1

  • Creamy Polenta with Awesome Bolognese
  • Falafel Hash with Grapefruit-Arugula Tabbouleh
  • Crispy Rutabaga Rosti with Garlicky Balsamic Spinach

Week 2

  • Linguine with Crisp Mushrooms and Saffron Broth
  • Tofu Escabeche with Bamboo Rice and Mango Slaw
  • Manchurian Cauliflower with Sesame-Tamari Bok Choy

Each week I received a big, insulated box with three carefully packaged meals. Nestled in between the meals were three colorful recipe cards with a handful of photos that showed how things should look as you're cooking.

When you open up each meal package, all the ingredients are pre-measured and everything is clearly labeled in individual plastic bags and bottles. Because the idea behind a lot of meal delivery services is that everything you need comes in the box (besides basics like olive oil, salt, and pepper) even small things – like a tablespoon of white wine vinegar – will come in a small plastic bottle for you to use.

While I appreciate how easy this packaging makes cooking (mise en place in a box!), it is incredibly wasteful. From what I understand, however, this is a problem across all meal delivery services, and is not limited to The Purple Carrot. The packaging waste does stand out for The Purple Carrot, however, because of the intrinsic link between environmentalism and veganism.

The meals themselves were well-portioned and relatively easy to make. While I did find that I used a lot of pots and pans in my kitchen to create a single dish, this didn't particularly bother me, but it's definitely not for someone who wants something quick.

The Purple Carrot really stands out in its creative vegan recipes. As someone who used to be vegan for a short time, I found myself falling into boring ruts – lots of salads and bland pasta dishes — it just didn't work for me. The recipes that I've tried from The Purple Carrot have all been very unique and delicious. It makes me want to continue this creative way of cooking vegetables in my kitchen.

Overall, I'd highly recommend The Purple Carrot if you're in a cooking rut and want to eat something healthier. The fresh-tasting meals left me inspired and energized.

AT Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the service did give us products for review purposes.

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