Have You Tried a Subscription Service Like Purple Carrot?

Recently some friends mentioned that they were testing out a subscription service called Purple Carrot. The idea is that you receive a box of fresh ingredients and detailed instructions on how to make a few restaurant-quality, super healthy meals.

They sent us a referral code to try out the service, which we gladly accepted, especially since 1 week of Purple Carrot costs around $70. That’s technically for 3 meals (2 servings per meal), though we found that we got 3 servings out of a few of the meals.

I was a little dubious about how “fresh” the ingredients would be, but the kale and lettuce actually were quite fresh. I was also worried about the resulting waste of having food shipped to us, but everything was recyclable or reusable (or edible).

The meals themselves were unique and delicious. We had a chickpea dish with a combination of chili powder and lemon zest that I need to make again, jackfruit burgers, and tempeh quinoa (all vegetarian).

Most importantly, we had a lot of fun cooking together! I’m normally the chef in the house, so it was fun to cook side by side with Megan.

Would we keep the subscription, though? For now, no. Compared to ordering a meal from a restaurant, it’s much more cost effective, but it comes with the cost of time (around 30 minutes of prep time per meal, plus clean-up time). And, honestly, now that we have the cookbook, if I really want one of these meals, I can easily pick up the ingredients from the grocery store.

But we’ll see. The food was delicious, and I had a good time cooking with Megan.

Have you tried anything like this? What did you think?


8 Responses to “Have You Tried a Subscription Service Like Purple Carrot?”

  1. Tom Londe says:

    I did HelloFresh for quite a few months. I think it was pretty close to the same price point as what you experienced with your service for the same amount of food. Overall, I really liked it. I only had issues with food quality once or twice over several months, and it was enough food for me to eat a reasonable dinner and still have enough left for a lunch. While the service generally seemed more expensive than doing my own shopping and about the same price as eating out, I viewed it as paying for the convenience. I could do something healthy without the effort of meal planning or having to go hunting for my own ingredients. If I had one complaint, it was the prep time. They either based those times on how long it would take Gordon Ramsey to put those meals together, or they were assuming you were part of a couple who was tag-teaming the effort. When it was just little old me, I had to schedule my deliveries to show up just before the weekend because I did not have time to deal with that stuff on a weeknight. I ultimately had to pull the plug because of the price, but I definitely intend to go back to it when I’m in a better spot.

  2. Chris Mattioli says:

    I have tried Hello Fresh and Blue Apron in the past. From what I can tell, and from my experience with these two, they are all generally the same (price, packaging, ingredients, online experience.) What you are really paying for with these is convenience. No deciding what to make for dinner, it’s already planned out for you. This is both good and bad. In the beginning it was fun to go through each recipe, a couple of weeks in, it felt too much like a commitment and a chore. Also, when you consider the cost and time you have to put into it, it’s actually fairly expensive. $11 per serving and you had to do all the work. With similar recipes you can get online, and a little planning, you can achieve the same results for much less. Plus you can decide how much to cook, perhaps you want more leftovers, and how often in a week you want to cook. It’s fun for a minute, and a good date night activity for sure, but long term it doesn’t make much sense.

  3. Stephen Werness says:

    We have used Home Chef for a few years and blue apron. Defiantly makes cooking meals a lot more efficient. Starting up dinnerly to see how it is.

  4. Yes, in the North Island of New Zealand the service closest to that is called Hello Fresh (which I believe began in Australia).

    Similar story to yours, a friend gave me a coupon for a free box and we decided initially to go for the vegetarian option, to expand our meet-free repertoire. We had to sign up to get the freebie but each week you can decide if you want the box delivered or not, so we were getting one every 2-3 weeks.

    Then came Covid and we stopped going to the grocery store, instead having groceries delivered or doing the click and collect option. I enjoy grocery shopping but it hasn’t been too bad, except that I don’t like someone else picking out my produce and meats. So for the past few months we’ve taken the Hello Fresh box almost every week as, like you, we’ve found the quality of their ingredients top notch. We changed to the standard plan, so every week we’ve had a total of at least a dozen meals to choose from (vegetarian and meat-based).

    As you may have noticed, food is more expensive in New Zealand, but the Hello Fresh meals are certainly competitive with a good restaurant meal and more varied. I do the vast bulk of the meal planning and cooking so it’s nice to have a respite from the planning, and Chris often helps me cook these meals (and they’re easy enough that he can make them himself sometimes too)–more likely with him working from home during Alert Levels 2-4.

    So we’re big fans and have in turn given our friends coupons for free boxes. The only thing I don’t like is that I wish they would collect the wrapper and cold packs they use for the refrigerated items when they bring the next box. I think in Australia they do this so I imagine it’s a matter of time, and being past Covid.

  5. Marcin Zarycki says:

    We tried Hello Fresh once when we got a random coupon in the mail but weren’t impressed with the food. Then a couple years later we received some Blue Apron gift cards as a gift and tried them out, and we liked the food better, but at $20 per meal, it was a bit too much to keep it going.

    However, a few months after that, we found that Costco sold Blue Apron gift cards at a 20% discount, so we stocked up and ended up ordering Blue Apron every 2 or 3 weeks for almost a year.

    The quality overall was good. Blue Apron lets you select which 3 meals out of 8 options you want each time you order (as long as you remember to log on and make the decision before the deadline). We ended up keeping about half the recipes we’ve gotten through them and still make them from time to time.

    We typically cook at home most nights, so the time commitment for that wasn’t much different, but it did save us the convenience of not having to shop for those items. They also send the exact quantities of each ingredient you need so there isn’t half a cabbage going bad in the fridge when you forget you still had some left.

    After we stopped ordering from them, we made a shopping list one week for the ingredients for 5 recipes we’ve saved that we liked. The total cost to buy all of the ingredients for those recipes was about half the cost of what it would cost to order from Blue Apron (and some ingredients were purchased in larger amounts than the recipe called for). However, the shopping trip took over 2 hours and we ended up going to 3 different stores to try and find all the ingredients, and still couldn’t find a couple of the more unique sauces.

    Overall, we found that the service allowed us to try new an unique recipes for a slight premium in cost, but a convenience in not having to go shopping as often. To us, that was worth it.

    Several grocery stores around us have also started selling pre-packaged meal kits that have everything you need for a 2 serving meal. We’ve tried a few recipes from Whole Foods and found those to be on par with the ones we’ve had from Blue Apron.

  6. Like most people, we got a coupon for Hello Fresh which we tried out. The food was good, and the kids liked it, which is super important. My wife and I work in an “Essential Service” retail store, so it’s been a crazy time of late. Not having to think about meals has been a big incentive to keep this going every other week.

  7. Mackenzie Hoffman says:

    We did Hello Fresh for around six months during 2018. There was a lot we loved about it, but eventually making the meals because too time consuming as I took on extra responsibilities at work. However, I have since considered ordering again for the summer or when I have substantial breaks. I love that it is preplanned and teaches me to make things I wouldn’t make in other situations. It’s also really nice to have the recipe cards afterwards to make. The time saved at the grocery store makes up for the time making the meal a lot of the time. I also loved that we were eating a much more varied and healthy diet when we were on this. Almost every meal has plenty of fresh produce, something I cannot say the same about when I’m trying to make quick meals after work. Although for the cost, it’s more effective to just save the ingredient cards and get what you need at the store. We have over 50 meal cards now that I occasionally will make when I have the time to cook, and that has been a long lasting benefit of trying it!

  8. Joseph E. Pilkus III says:

    I see the draw for many folks around the country who work crazy hours, lack any kitchen basics, or live alone and don’t see the “juice being worth the squeeze” cooking for one. While I understand all of these very rational responses, I can’t get my head around $70 for a few meals. Since my divorce, now nearly a decade ago, I’ve taken Gordon Ramsey’s Master Class and have AllRecipe’s as one of my favorite websites. While I’m not opening a Michelin 3-star restaurant anytime soon, I have a regular list of a few dozen beef, chicken, and fish dishes, along with rolling my own sushi. For $70, I can eat exceptionally well for a week and have plenty of leftovers. Again, I see the draw…it’s just not for me.

Leave a Reply