As much as I love cooking sometimes the laziness takes over. It’s not so much the act of cooking, but more the preparation. Grocery shopping can be fun, but sometimes the Millennial in me just wants to exert zero effort and instantly have food delivered to my door. For this very reason, meal delivery services exist. They send you exact quantities of ingredients needed to make healthy and fresh meals a few days a week! Unfortunately, most of these meal delivery services are heavily based on animal protein and dairy. The only fully plant-based brand that offers this service (that I know of) is Purple Carrot. They offer only vegan and organic ingredients for you to create some incredible and simple recipes. Needless to say, I finally decided to give it a go and order my first box last week. The three recipes were Jackfruit Shiitake Stir-fry, Butternut Squash Caponata, and Buffalo Tempeh Tacos.
Recipe #1: Jackfruit Shiitake Stir-fry
The first recipe from the box I made was this incredible Jackfruit Shiitake Stir-fry with Quinoa and Spinach. Below is a photo of the recipe card that came in the box for this meal or you can click here to see online.
The recipes are fairly simple to follow as long as you do everything exactly as stated. I am a very visual person so I love that they include photos as well. Below are some of my own photos from my cooking process. This was my first recipe and I wanted to make sure to get everything right so I forgot to take pics of a few steps such as the shiitake mushrooms, but I swear they are there! I had never tasted fermented black beans before (pictured below) but I must say they add a lot of flavor without being too overwhelming. Also, the trick to delicious jackfruit using any cooking method is shredding it as much as possible! The best way of doing this I have found is doing it by hand and making sure to take out all the seeds.
SIDE NOTE: It always blows my mind seeing how handfuls of spinach diminish into small amounts when steamed! That is why you should always make sure to throw in more than you think! In this case, Purple Carrot provides the exact amount in a bag so you don’t have to worry about that.
This stir-fry was probably my favorite from the three meals provided. I may be biased though because I can eat quinoa and stir-fry all day every day!
The second recipe I made from my Purple Carrot box was the Butternut Squash Caponata with Gemelli Pasta and Mint. See the photo of the recipe card below or click here to access full recipe online.
Some argue that the point of paying more for a meal is so that you don’t have to cook it yourself. although true, I find that this method is still nice and worth it because you get to see first hand exactly what goes in your food. You have the power to omit or add whatever you want. You can chop your veggies how big or small you like. The best part is that even though you have to put a little tiny bit of effort in, all of these meals take no longer than 30-35 minutes to make. As I’ve mentioned in some of my recipes, you always start with the thing that takes the longest to cook so that you can work on everything else in the meantime.
Although also delicious, you definitely have to be a fan of butternut squash, almonds, and mint separately and combined. The flavors on their own are very potent and together raise the level even more! I love these creative and unique recipes because they make you try things you normally would not have thought to put together. It gives you ideas and adds to your palette of flavor combinations. On the other hand, if you are just not into trying new things when you are hungry, Purple Carrot makes it so simple to be able to skip a week of meals. Instead of spending on recipes, you are unsure about you can wait until the next time you see three meals you just can not miss!
The third and last meal I made from my Purple Carrot box were these perfect Buffalo Tempeh Tacos with Celery Apple Slaw and Ranch Crema. See recipe card below or click here to access through Purple Carrot’s official website. Even if you are not subscribed to their meal service you are able to access their recipes with the same photos, step-by-step directions, and nutritional facts.
Another cool thing about meal delivery is that they only include the exact amounts of each ingredient you will need. This is great because as conscious as I try to be, many times things go bad in my fridge and that is how precious food goes to waste. The photo below (right) shows the one scallion, the one celery stick and the one apple needed for the slaw. Although it may not look like much and even kind of silly it is all you need!
Tempeh is a favorite of mine but like every other soy derivative, I have to cut it into thin small pieces. The smaller the crunchier and more flavorful each bite is, at least in my opinion.
Everything about this recipe was super easy and super yummy! It took the longest but only because the tempeh is in the oven for 20 minutes. In the meantime, you can cut the ingredients for the slaw and whip up the vegan ranch. This ranch dressing was so easy to make and is an absolute game changer! Veganaise, garlic powder, dried dill, and salt (and some water to make it runnier if you’d like). That’s all it is! Let’s just say this is going to be my go-to ranch recipe from now on.
Once the tempeh is ready, the rest is just a matter of assembly. These were honestly so fun to make and also so fun an satisfying to eat! I loved how Purple Carrot planned this meal based on the fact that it was the Super Bowl this past Sunday. I am not 100% sure I think/hope that they keep season and holidays in mind when developing their recipes for the week. While my family munched on buffalo chicken wings (RIP), I was busy ripping through these fat, yet healthy (and vegan) tacos!
My specific subscription includes enough ingredients for two servings so I made three tacos to start on Sunday night and kept the rest of the marinated tempeh and slaw in the fridge to make for the next day. Purple Carrot also offers a subscription plan for 3-4 servings if you eat larger portions or want to feed your family. The 1-2 serving plan costs $72 a week (3 recipes, 6 meals). This means you are essentially paying $12 per meal. The 3-4 serving plan costs $80 a week (3 recipes, 12 meals). In this case, you are paying $10 per meal.
It may sound like a lot (and it is if you are a fully efficient grocery shopper, every meal maker kind of person) but it ends up being cheaper than if you eat out every night of the week. This doesn’t completely eliminate you from going grocery shopping because you still have to make and eat breakfast, and lunch. I think breakfast and lunch are pretty routine easy meals for most people (smoothie bowls, oatmeal, salads, wraps). Dinner is when you want to get creative and enjoy a fresh, hot meal. This is where Purple Carrot can come into play to help you enjoy the best food every night!
My only qualm with Purple Carrot and other meal delivery services is that they do use quite a bit of plastic. every ingredient is wrapped or stored in a plastic bag or container. This is great for keeping everything fresh but anyone can argue that this lifestyle is not really environmentally friendly. Although this is true and slightly upsetting considering how great everything else is, all of their packaging is recyclable, reusable, biodegradable and/or compostable (click here to learn more about their environmental efforts).
All in all, I am a fan! I personally will not be purchasing a box every week due to the amount of cooking I do anyways, but if there are recipes that stand out to me, I would order another box without hesitation. For more and all information about Purple Carrot go explore their website at purplecarrot.com!