Overall Score: Very Good
This vegan service delivered good flavor but was the most restrictive in terms of recipes to choose from; everyone gets the same recipes selected by the company each week. The two-person plan offers only three meals and the four-person option—which they call “a whole bunch”—offers two. (The company has no plans to offer more selections and says, “part of our value is curating the best plant-based meals possible for our customers each week.”) The two-person plan is $68 per week and the four-person plan is $74 per week.
In our tests, two of the three meals earned “very good” scores and the remaining dish garnered a “good.” Tasters favored the Chinese Broccoli and Tofu with Peanut Sauce (“nice textures and flavors that are well balanced”) and the Spinach Risotto with Spiced Chickpea Crumble (“fairly well balanced”). The Crisp Potato and Poblano with Red Cabbage Slaw had “flavorful” potatoes but those flavors weren’t “particularly well blended.”
All of Purple Carrot’s recipes contained whole grains or legumes (something many of the other services dropped the ball on) and were high in fiber. It tied with Plated for the highest fat content—the broccoli and tofu dish notched 46 grams of fat and the potato poblano contained 40 mg—but was the lowest in saturated fat. The broccoli and tofu dish had nearly 1,600 mg of sodium, which is more than half the daily recommended amount of 2,300 mg. However, overall Purple Carrot’s recipes called for fewer additions of salt than those of the other services. We calculated the saturated fat and sodium levels of each dish using a nutrient database, as the company only provides calories, carbohydrates, fat, and protein. The company claims all of its ingredients are non-GMO and often organic.
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• Consumer Reports Reviews Green Chef
• Consumer Reports Reviews HelloFresh
• Consumer Reports Reviews Plated
In general, Purple Carrot’s recipes were easy to make. In fact, Purple Carrot was the only service in our tests that didn’t have at least one recipe downgraded for ease of preparation. The time estimates for the recipes were also on target. However, the recipe cards don’t list the equipment you’ll need up front and the images that illustrate the different steps in the recipes were less helpful and attractive than the ones from the other services. It was also the only service that didn’t label each step in recipe with a cooking action—such as simmer or sauté—which isn’t a big deal but does make a difference for cooks who like to get a sense of what’s coming to mentally prepare.
How We Tested
Consumer Reports evaluated five meal kit services that deliver nationally: Blue Apron, Green Chef, HelloFresh, Plated, and Purple Carrot. Using our secret shoppers, we ordered every meal (except for one from Green Chef) available in each service’s two-person plan during a week in May, for a total of 27 meals. The weeks were chosen randomly and the type and quality of offerings were assumed to be reflective the service overall. Ingredients were examined upon arrival and weighed to compare what was received with the ingredient amounts listed in the recipe. Our food-testing team then prepared the recipes in our test kitchen without using any special equipment. A panel of professional tasters sampled every dish. Our dietitians scrutinized the nutritional content for the dishes and reviewed the available nutritional information for a month’s worth of each service’s meal options. Meals that were at or below 670 calories, 22 grams of fat, and 770 mg of sodium were considered to be healthier based on one-third of a day’s nutrition for a 2,000-calorie diet. To further assess the healthfulness of the meals, we considered portion size, whether they contained healthful ingredients such as legumes and whole grains, and roughly estimated the amount of vegetables per serving to assess the healthfulness of the meal. Overall scores are based on nutrition, taste, ease of preparation, time it takes to get the meal on the table, price, variety, and ingredient freshness.
Calories, carbohydrates, fat and protein are from Purple Carrot; all other values were calculated using a nutrient database and is based on one portion of a recipe.
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