I Tried Thistle’s Meal Kit Delivery and It’s a Tasty, Low-Fuss Solution for Busy Nights

published Mar 1, 2024
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Overhead shot of a sheet pan salad with sweet potatoes, red onion, radishes, chickpeas and feta, and a gold and green serving spoon resting in the pan.
Credit: Photo: Vicky Wasik ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

If you’re taking a hard look at the amount of vegetables you actually eat, you may be considering new strategies to incorporate more of them into your lifestyle. There are endless ways to turn fruits and veggies into satisfying meals at home, but sometimes we don’t have the time, energy, or skills to turn a grocery haul into a truly enticing dinner. That’s where a meal delivery service can come in handy.

Quick Overview

A quick look at Thistle

  • A plant-forward meal delivery service that puts vegetables first
  • Menu include meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with or without animal-based protein, plus desserts, snacks, and drinks
  • Fresh ready-to-eat meals delivered twice a week, depending on your subscription
  • Pricing starts at $11.50 per meal with delivery in certain zip codes on the East and West coasts

What Is Thistle?

Thistle is a meal delivery service that puts vegetables first, so if you’re on a mission to increase your greens (and the rest of the rainbow), this may be the solution you’re looking for. The brand’s mission is to “make eating nutritious, plant-based foods incredibly convenient and accessible.” That said, if you want it, meals featuring animal-based proteins, including chicken and pork, are available. The company partners with local producers on the East and West Coast (where deliveries are currently available) to emphasize high-quality, sustainable sourcing with all their ingredients. 

How Does Thistle Work?

Thistle offers snacks, breakfasts, lunches, and dinners with and without animal-based proteins. Unlike other meal delivery services that deliver once a week with frozen or fresh ready-to-eat meals, Thistle makes two drops a week. Your meals for Monday through Wednesday arrive chilled in a tote bag in one delivery, then food for Thursday through Saturday comes a few days later. 

Because meals are delivered via messenger, rather than UPS or FedEx, you have to live in the service’s delivery zones, which are limited to certain zip codes on the West and East Coasts. Thankfully, my zip code is within the delivery zone, as is Editorial Shopping Director, Jada Wong’s, who also tested the service. 

After signing up and indicating any allergies or preferences for plant-based food, you can choose the number of meals from each category you’d like. Your weekly delivery will default to Thistle’s menu, but there is some room to customize the box by choosing different meals. The Thistle menu is broken down by day (except for Sunday) so you can choose a breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert or snack, or you can choose fewer meals depending on your needs. Each lunch and dinner also comes with an omnivore or plant-based protein option.

Credit: Lizzy Briskin

How Much Does Thistle Cost?

Thistle’s cost will differ depending on your order, and there are discounts if you order a certain minimum amount of meals. Here’s the price breakdown of each item from Thistle.

  • Breakfasts: $10 each (or $9.50 if you order four at a time)
  • Snacks: $6.50 each 
  • Vegan lunches: $12.50 each (or $12 if you order four or more)
  • Vegan dinners: $12 each
  • Meat-based lunches and dinners: Between $15 to 15.50
  • Bottled juices $8 each
  • Juice shots: $4 each
  • Individual soup and salad add-ons: Between $5 and $10

The service also has more bulk-sized plans, such as three vegan lunches or dinners for $45 a week, or five omnivore dinners for $105 a week. The plans are quite flexible, which makes it easy to avoid food waste. As long as you log in before your billing deadline, you can customize your weekly delivery to suit your schedule. 

Does Thistle Offer Variety in the Meals?

In short, yes. A quick look at the menu reveals 15 different meals and three snacks for any given week. However, the amount of variety is a little bit misleading because about half of the dishes are the same item with a different protein. For example, the menu for an upcoming week has Japchae Salad with Lemongrass Baked Tofu and Japchae Salad with Lemongrass Chicken as options. All ingredients are identical in these two menu items except the protein. The good thing is that Thistle doesn’t seem to repeat exact meals from week to week, which should help regular subscribers avoid fatigue. 

Thistle Meals, Reviewed

I tried a variety of Thistle meals and snacks including the following:

  • Miso Glazed Kabocha Curry with Glazed Chicken
  • Kale & Quinoa Caesar Salad with Caesar Dressing
  • Cranberry Orange Salad with Roasted Chicken
  • Ramen Salad with Sesame Pulled Chicken
  • Chocolate Caramel Muesli Bar
  • Peppermint Mousse with Chocolate Cookie Crumble

The meals arrive via messenger in a branded cooler tote bag, which you leave outside of your apartment building or house for pickup when you’re expecting the next delivery. Each item was freshly packaged and labeled with an “eat by” date. 

Credit: Lizzy Briskin

I first tried the Kale & Quinoa Caesar Salad with Caesar Dressing, as my delivery arrived just before lunchtime. The salad is packed in a plastic jar with the dressing and quinoa on the bottom and crisp salad greens on top. I emptied it into a bowl and topped it with the crispy breadcrumbs. I would have liked more greens in this salad because the quinoa had soaked up a lot of the Caesar dressing and became heavy. Still, the salad was tasty — especially the dressing.  

Credit: Lizzy Briskin

I had one of the larger salads for dinner that night, starting with the Ramen Salad with Sesame Pulled Chicken. It had a generous portion of shredded chicken, which was a bit dry so it definitely benefited from the sesame dressing (another tasty sauce from Thistle). The salad also had a ball of cooked ramen noodles, which were thinner than I usually find in ramen, and were so stuck together they were impossible to detangle without breaking into tiny pieces. I also noticed that some of the cucumbers in the salad were frozen when the dish arrived, possibly from the ice packs in the cooler. Once I nixed the floppy cukes, the dressing brought this salad together and it turned into a solid meal, if not the most interesting.

Credit: Lizzy Briskin

I had the Cranberry Orange Salad with Roasted Chicken for lunch the next day. Like the ramen salad, this one helpfully comes in a clamshell that’s spacious enough to eat out of — no need for extra dishes! The dressing was a striking yellow color and added a delicious citrusy punch to the dish. The cubed chicken was perfectly fine this time, not dry, and I loved the light white bean salad and sweet dried cranberries (also a favorite of Wong’s). Altogether, this was a more interesting salad than I normally make myself at home. I’d also use that dressing on anything! 

Credit: Lizzy Briskin

Next, I tried one of the omnivore dinners: the Miso Glazed Kabocha Curry with Glazed Chicken. This dish had instructions to heat in a skillet, which I did. The chicken was tender, not at all dry, and the slightly sweet and creamy glaze was delicious with the soft kabocha squash. You could easily enjoy this meal cold as well, which Wong preferred to do during her testing to keep the baby spinach crisp.

Credit: Lizzy Briskin

I also loved the dessert and snack situation Thistle offered. The Chocolate Caramel Muesli Bar tasted like a fancy candy bar, with nutty tahini and bitter dark chocolate, and the Peppermint Mousse With Chocolate Cookie Crumble was decadent. I appreciated that even though the meal service is plant-forward, you don’t feel deprived of sweets. 

The Bottom Line

Overall, the Thistle meals were high-quality and super fresh. They had a great variety of vegetables and made it easier for me to eat a more diverse menu — something that many of us can benefit from. The dressings, sauces, and desserts were the highlights of the week for me. 

That being said, because of the plant-forward ethos, Thistle doesn’t have the same level of variety as other meal subscriptions that offer meat and seafood. The service isn’t available in every zip code, and the standard subscription means two fresh deliveries a week, which can be a lot to manage depending on your schedule.

However, Thistle would be a great meal solution for anyone looking to eat more vegetables or go fully plant-based and doesn’t want to have to plan a single meal, including snacks and desserts. 

Buy: Thistle, starting at $11.50