It feels like meal kit delivery services have blown up within the past few years. Are we really that lazy? Or just bored of our everyday meals? (For me, it's both...haha.) I was never drawn to them because I hesitated about the quality of the food, the preparation conditions, and how the food stayed good in transit. Plus, they seemed expensive (just as much money as eating out) and I was a fairly cheap eater while in grad school. I also read this article about working conditions at one of the Blue Apron warehouses and was even less thrilled by the idea of them.
I watched as new company after new company showed up on my Facebook timeline, still not really interested. That was until I learned about Green Chef. Their products are all organic, and I figured if I was going to spend that much money, I may as well be eating good food. My boyfriend and I threw around the idea of trying a meal kit delivery service since we weren't eating very well. He had learned about the performance meals by Purple Carrot and wanted to give those a try. I, of course, wanted to try Green Chef.
Read on for my (unsponsored) review of the Purple Carrot and Green Chef meal kit delivery services...!
The plan we chose: TB12 performance meals (vegan/high protein/gluten-free)
Price: $13/meal (including shipping = $78/box for a 2-person/3-meal plan)
How many boxes we got (so far): 2 (next box to come October 18th)
The packaging: Most things can be recycled (cardboard, plastic bags, etc.). Sometimes they use insulation that may not be able to be recycled or composted depending on your local program.
The lowdown: At least one ingredient from each meal in our first box was left out and they weren't "extra" ingredients (i.e. curry powder was missing from a curry recipe, tortillas were missing from the enchilada recipe, etc.), but they did give apply a $55 credit for our second box because of it. Not a great first impression but at least they tried to make up for it.
The meals don't always look that great, but I was pleasantly surprised by the summer squash enchiladas; even the fake cheese/sour cream was delicious! I only managed to get two photos of our Purple Carrot meals, and both of them could have been better. They weren't well-balanced (too much tofu for the amount of veggies and noodles, for example) or flavorful (noodles and kale needed a sauce or something more). I ate the enchiladas too quickly to snap a photo, haha.
The biggest issue I had with Purple Carrot (other than the missing ingredients) is how long it took to cook each meal. They all took about one hour or longer to make which is just too long to wait after I get home from work. They also used more pans/utensils that I would prefer but so did Green Chef.
It's slightly difficult to figure out which ingredients go with which meal since the labels are all black and white (and I don't remember the canned/dry goods being labeled) and they don't indicate which ingredients are for which meal. The boxes could also be packaged better; they don't put any cold packs at the top of the box, so only the items at the bottom of the box stay cold if it's left outside for a few hours. That said, we haven't had any issues with food spoiling.
Interested in trying? Their referral program is currently being upgraded so I'll update this post with a link once it's live; if you can't wait, you can use code Purple20 for $20 off your first box (the program used to be $25 off your first box so I'd imagine the new program would be similar).
The plan we chose: Vegetarian
Price: $11/meal (+ $9 shipping = $72/box for a 2-person/3-meal plan)
How many boxes we got (so far): 4 (next box to come October 13th)
The packaging: Everything can be recycled (cardboard, plastic) or composted (insulation).
The lowdown: I've been quite impressed with Green Chef so far. We haven't had any issues with missing ingredients, and most every meal has been easy to make and very filling. The timing of the meals tends to be right on, and it's easy to follow the directions. (I had an issue with quinoa not cooking but I think it may have been my fault, haha.) I do wish the meals were more around the 30 minute mark (they vary between about 30-45 minutes), but that's only because we tend to eat later than I would prefer. Some of the meals also use many pots and pans which is annoying to clean up.
The meals are quite colorful, as you probably noticed, and they make a lot of food! They're so delicious, too. My favorite meals have been the meals that I didn't think would be my favorites. I'm even enjoying the meals with sweet potatoes (as a purist when it comes to potatoes, this is a big deal for me). There is an excellent balance between flavors and the amount of each item compared to the Purple Carrot meals.
All the ingredients come color-coded so it's easy to divide the ingredients up between the meals, and the box is well-packaged; everything has always stayed cold even if it has to sit outside for a few hours before we get home. It's worth noting that you should eat the meals within a week at the most or risk the ingredients going bad since they're organic.
Interested in trying? Use my referral link for 4 free meals (only pay $25 for your first week if you choose the 2-person vegetarian plan); I'll earn $25 if you order a second box. I also have four referrals good for one free week of the 2-person plan. Email me at cottoncashmerecathair (at) gmail (dot) com with your preferred email address and I'll send one over!
I'm pleasantly surprised by the variety of meals, quality of the ingredients, and ease of assembling the meals from both Purple Carrot and Green Chef. I have to say that I prefer Green Chef based on the fact that we haven't had missing ingredients and the meals are so delicious, inventive, and filling. I love that all of Green Chef's ingredients are organic and that some of the ingredients come prepped already since I'm not the greatest chef. ;)
The big issue for me is the cost. It's definitely not cheap, especially when you think about the fact that all of the meals are mostly just veggies, grains, and nuts. It's comparable to eating out three days a week (we rarely eat out because of the cost). I think it's worth it if you want some variety in your meals. It felt like we made the same three meals every week before we started these deliveries and love that these kits force us to branch out and try new flavors. It's also nice to have the food delivered right to your door and how you don't need a pantry full of ingredients that you wouldn't use otherwise.
If you've been considering trying a meal kit delivery service, I highly recommend Green Chef! We've loved the meals so far. Though, if you are interested in performance/high protein meals, Purple Carrot has a great variety as long as there aren't any issues with ingredients. We took a break from both services for a couple of weeks (mostly to save a bit of money but partially because the meals didn't look as great), but we'll be getting a box from each company in a couple of weeks so hopefully they are just as good as they were in the past. Hopefully there will be no missing ingredients! :)