Finding the right meal delivery service can be tough with all the great services available. Thankfully, I've researched a wealth of options to find the ones that are convenient, healthy, and which provide excellent customer service.
Freshly and Purple Carrot are two popular services in the US, but dietarily very different.
Freshly offers fully prepared meals with a more classic American menu of mostly high-protein, low carb meat dishes, while Purple Carrot is a vegan service offering plant-based meal kits and prepared meals inspired by international cuisines.
When considering overall service, Freshly wins in terms of ordering and delivery, and with its superior customer support. I’ve found that having accessible customer service via several mediums is one of the best features a meal delivery service can offer – and Freshly has just that.
It's a tie
🍔 Menu Variety:
Purple Carrot (16+ new recipes each week)
⏰ Prep Time:
It's a tie
It's a tie
👍 Ordering and Delivery:
🙋 Customer Support:
Winner: Purple Carrot
This was a tough one to call. Freshly has a more extensive menu in terms of numbers, but Purple Carrot rotates its entire menu each week so you’ll always have something new to choose from, plus the ingredients are of a higher quality, and recipes more complex.
You can also choose from both meal kits or prepared meals with Purple Carrot, depending on how much cooking you want to do.
Each week you’ll find around eight meal kits, eight prepared meal options, plus two lunches, two breakfasts and a selection of snacks and store-cupboard items like plant-based cheese, pesto, or pumpkin-spiced cookies.
Not all meal delivery services rotate their menus weekly – nor do they all offer extras like breakfast and snacks – so this is great to see. You can also view Purple Carrot’s menu up to six weeks in advance when you sign up.
Purple Carrot’s recipes are also more complex than Freshly’s dishes, particularly if you choose the meal kit option. With a prep time of 15 to 45 minutes per dish (for the meal kits), the inspired recipes are well worth it if you want to try new foods and add some more plant-based dishes to your repertoire.
Purple Carrot’s prepared meals take around two or three minutes in the microwave, just like Freshly’s, but in my opinion are more exciting. Look out for meals like Spinach Artichoke Mac n’ Cheese or the Crispy “Sausage'' Cavatappi with Ratatouille (pictured below).
Both services deliver their prepared meals chilled – never frozen.
With veggies (and Purple Carrot’s great use of seasonings) being the star of the show, you’ll find plenty of Mediterranean-inspired dishes on Purple Carrot's menu, plus some Indian, Mexican, and Asian influences, too.
Purple Carrot also uses zero fillers, preservatives, or artificial flavors to enhance its recipes. You can rest assured that each dish is packed with nutrient-dense whole foods and natural flavors.
The service also claims that most of its “non-produce items” are organic, including its tofu and milk alternatives. Naturally, due to issues with sourcing, shipping, and wanting to provide excellent recipe variety, Purple Carrot is limited in providing 100% organic ingredients.
On the other end of the scale, Freshly’s menu features a whopping 35+ meals. The dishes are mostly appropriate for lunch and/or dinner, but there are three or four breakfast meals on there, too. The service claims to add one or two new dishes each week, however, the remainder of the menu stays the same.
Freshly’s cuisine is primarily classic American but includes some Mediterranean, Mexican, Indian, and Asian-inspired dishes such as the Miso-Glazed Beef Bowl with Cauliflower Rice. If you’re looking for vegan-friendly options, Freshly has a few but not enough to sustain a week’s worth of meals.
All the meals come prepared in microwave-safe trays, so like Purple Carrot's prepared meals, all you have to do is heat and eat in a few minutes.
You’ll also find a few premium meals on Freshly’s menu. You can spot these thanks to the darker background in the photo – and they’ll also show an upcharge of a few dollars when you click through. These meals include more premium ingredients and higher-quality meat cuts and seafood, such as top-blade steak, to create a more complex flavor profile.
There are a few protein add-ons available, but note that each of these counts as a whole meal in your plan.
While Freshly doesn’t prioritize organic produce, it does make the effort to prepare its meals with zero artificial flavors, sweeteners or added sugar. It also uses non-GMO expeller pressed canola oil.
Like Purple Carrot's prepared meals, each dish is individually packaged and serves a single adult. Though the meals could work for kids (the Linguini Marinara & Meatballs would go down well, for example!) they’re probably better suited to individuals or busy couples.
The microwavable meals from either service are certainly a great weekly addition to free up time you might otherwise spend cooking. Purple Carrot's are particularly great if you want to add an easy plant-based dish to your week, especially if you're trying to increase your veggie intake!
Winner: It's a tie
While both Purple Carrot and Freshly cater well to those who want to avoid certain ingredients such as dairy, gluten, and soy, neither service can customize its recipes to suit individual needs.
The best way to ensure you’re getting what you want each week is to check the ingredients list of each dish. With Purple Carrot’s meal kits you can, of course, just choose to omit certain ingredients from the cooking process.
Fortunately, both services offer very flexible plans. Unlike some other services, you’re not limited to ordering from a specific dietary menu so you’ll have more variety each week.
Many of Freshly’s meals are carb- and calorie-conscious, as well as being mostly gluten- and peanut-free. At one point Freshly offered certified gluten-free meals but it seems the service can no longer promise zero risk of cross contamination, though the meals are prepared under strict allergen procedures.
It also has some dairy- and soy-free options (around nine to 11), plus those few plant-based dishes each week.
Purple Carrot also has high-protein, gluten-free, and soy-free options. And since all the meals are plant-based, they’re dairy- and meat-free by default. There’s a selection of Quick & Easy options, too, which take 30 minutes or less to prepare.
Each service clearly labels the common allergens in each dish on the website. Freshly also labels each meal with this information, while Purple Carrot provides a booklet with this info in your box, so you won’t have to worry about consuming ingredients that you want to avoid.
If you’re on a high-protein diet, Freshly does offer the option to double the amount of protein in your meals. The catch to this upgrade is that an added portion of protein will replace one of your meals for the week.
The maximum amount of meals you can order is 12 per week, so you’ll have to plan your meals carefully if you want to maximize the number of dishes you receive.
Freshly wins this round for me because it's a much simpler service and offers one of the most convenient features a meal delivery service can – choosing your delivery day.
With Freshly, you simply choose the number of single-serving meals you want each week (from four to 12) and pick the dishes you want to eat. The menu is easy to navigate thanks to several dietary filters.
You can also choose from categories such as the Signature Collection (at a glance this looks like meals with more ingredients), Purely Plant, Freshly Fit (low-carb, high-protein dishes), and Proteins & Sides (including cooked chicken breast and meatballs).
What's super useful about Freshly's menu, however, is that you can organize it to view specific macros for each meal. If you’re on a low-carb diet, for example, select Carbs and you’ll be able to see the carb count for each dish. This is an excellent feature for diet-conscious people and bodybuilders.
It’s still very easy to order from Purple Carrot, however. The added complexity only comes from the option of choosing either meal kits or prepared meals, and then choosing between two or four servings of each recipe per week.
At the time of writing, you can’t currently choose to receive both meal kits and prepared meals in one order from Purple Carrot. You have to choose either one.
Next, you’ll need to choose how many recipes you want and how many people you’ll be feeding. You can then select whether you prefer your meals to be gluten-free, high-protein, or quick and easy, though these aren’t set in stone.
Once you’ve confirmed this information and entered your payment info, you can then select your meals for that week.
Both Freshly and Purple Carrot deliver to the 48 contiguous US states.
The main feature that gives Freshly the win for this category is that you can choose your delivery days! The available days change depending on your zip code, but there are usually two to four days from which you can choose to receive your delivery.
While changing or canceling your order for either service is pretty easy, Freshly wins again thanks to its app that's compatible with both iOS and Android devices. I find that meal delivery services with apps are the easiest to use since you can manage everything through your mobile device.
For Freshly, you can change or cancel through the app, the super-responsive live chat, phone line, email, or by logging into your account on the website. Purple Carrot lets you change or cancel deliveries via the website, live chat, or their customer support phone line.
You’ll need to make any changes to your Freshly order five to six days before your delivery day. Your cutoff day will appear when you log-in to your account and view your subscription details.
Purple Carrot’s cutoff for changes is Tuesday (before 11:59 pm EST). The easiest way to manage your subscription is through the website portal or via customer service on the phone.
Unboxing your delivery from either service is easy and well-organized. Freshly’s meals are all individually packaged and labeled, and arrive chilled in microwave-safe trays.
This is the same for Purple Carrot’s prepared meals. The nutritional information, use-by dates, and heating instructions are labeled on each dish.
If you’ve selected Purple Carrot’s meal kits, the ingredients will arrive separated in bags according to each recipe. Each meal is labeled with a sticker denoting the name of the meal.
Purple Carrot also includes a recipe booklet with the cooking instructions for all the meals on the menu that week. These even include pictures of how your meal prep should look at each stage – excellent for both novices and experienced chefs alike when cooking unfamiliar recipes.
Purple Carrot recommends cooking and eating its meal kit dishes within three to five days of receiving them. If the fresh ingredients are stored properly, however, they can last up to a week. Its prepared meals also last for around a week in the fridge – otherwise you can freeze them for a rainy day.
Regarding the recyclability of each service’s packaging materials, both are pretty environmentally conscious, though Purple Carrot appears to use more plastic than probably necessary for its meal kits.
Both services deliver with reusable ice packs and plastic microwavable trays that are recyclable according to your city’s guidelines. The cardboard box is curbside recyclable.
Most of Purple Carrot’s packaging material is recyclable except for the fiber liner used to insulate each box. However, it is already post-consumer recycled, so it's at least already a reused material. Both websites offer details about how to recycle each piece of packaging.
Winner: It's a tie
This was an easy call since both services offer prepared meals that only take two or three minutes to heat in the microwave. The meals for both services arrive fresh and made-to-order and are great for busy nights when you want fast, fresh, healthy food heated in minutes.
The playing field changes a bit because Purple Carrot offers meal kits with prep times that range from from 15 to 50 minutes, with an average of around 30 minutes. You’ll also want to account for prep and cleanup, though.
If you’re something of a novice in the kitchen, you’ll also want to consider how much time you may need to YouTube any food prep skills required, since Purple Carrot expects you to have some basic chopping and peeling knowledge.
That said, the recipes themselves are easy to follow and are great if you want to spend a little extra time learning new cooking techniques and more about plant-based dishes.
In my opinion, Freshly has some of the best customer service support in the meal delivery industry. You can reach customer support via the app, chatbot, live chat, text, phone, or email. The quickest way to get a response is via the live chat option. Each time I reached out to customer support in the live chat, I was connected to an agent in a minute or less.
You can reach Freshly customer support seven days a week, from 6 am ET to midnight. This availability is excellent if you have last-minute questions or changes you need to make before your designated cutoff time.
Changing or canceling your order is super easy through the app, live chat, phone line, or website. If you’re confused about how to cancel, live agents are happy to walk you through it.
I found all the agents to be friendly and proactive. I asked several specific questions, and they provided clear, detailed responses. They’ll also ensure they’re still connected to you if you’re silent for a few minutes.
Freshly’s customer service agent Luisa answered all of my questions within 30 seconds and in a friendly manner.
With Freshly’s live chat, you’re first connected to a chatbot. If your questions are related to an existing account, the bot will take you through several question-and-answer exchanges to determine whether it can fulfill your requests before it sends you to a live agent. I had a food prep-related question, and the bot immediately sent me to a live agent.
Pro tip: If you already know you want to chat with a human instead of a bot – just type in “human” or “agent” and hit enter, and the bot will immediately connect you to a live customer service agent.
If you want to peruse information at your own pace, Freshly offers a comprehensive and updated FAQ section. It’s extensive and easy to navigate with keyword searches. I’ve often found that meal delivery services are difficult to browse if you don’t type in exact phrases, but that’s not the case with Freshly.
Purple Carrot offers similar features such as a chatbot, live chat, phone line, and email. With the live chat, you’re connected to an agent within 10 minutes, but I could only connect to an agent about one out of every five to 10 times I attempted. The phone line is faster and more readily available.
While Purple Carrot’s chat is live, agents typically respond every five to 15 minutes, so it doesn’t feel as “live” as Freshly’s. I also found the answers to be less detailed and not always relevant.
Purple Carrot’s customer support hours are also fewer than Freshly’s. The phone line and chat are only available five days a week from Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm EST. If you send an email, the website requests that you give customer support one to two days to respond.
Winner: It's a tie
Both services offer similar prices per meal. The starting price for Freshly is Price: Missing Product freshly plus tax per serving, but this is only when you order the maximum number of 12 meals per week. The minimum order is four meals, which equates to $50, plus tax and $10 shipping.
Purple Carrot, on the other hand, offers a fixed price of $13 per meal for its prepared dishes, whether you order six, eight, or 10. For the minimum order of six meals, you’re looking at $78 plus shipping (which varies but is around $8 per week).
Purple Carrot’s meal kits are priced slightly differently and, similarly to Freshly, will decrease in price the more you order. The lowest price per serving is Price: Missing Product purple-carrot when you order the maximum four meals per week for four people.
As mentioned, shipping costs vary, but you’ll get free shipping on your Purple Carrot order when you spend more than $85, while Freshly charges for every order.
When choosing which service is better for you, don’t forget to take into consideration any extras – such as Purple Carrot’s Plantry ingredients (from $5.99 per item) or Freshly’s protein add-ons (expect to pay around $10 for three 4oz portions here). These will all hike up your total cost.
Singles or busy couples who want convenient, quick, and easy meals
Couples or families who want to add more plant-based meals to their diet.
$6.90 per serving
$8.50 per serving
$9.99 to $11.99 per week
From $8 per week, or free on orders over $85
4 meals per week
3 meals for 2 people per week or 6 single-serving meals
35+ choices per week
16+ choices per week
2 to 3 minutes
2 to 50 minutes
Prepared, heat-and-eat; Quick & Easy meal kits
Allergies catered to
Carb-conscious, calorie-conscious, high-protein, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, plant-based
Vegetarian, plant-based gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, high-protein
iOS and Android app, live chat, phone line, text, email, FAQ
Live chat, email, phone, FAQ
Freshly wins this battle for me, thanks to its excellent customer service and easy ordering options. I’ve found that one of the most important features of ordering from a meal delivery service is its customer support accessibility, and Freshly knocks customer support out of the park.
You also get to choose your delivery days, making Freshly even easier to use. My colleague’s review goes into even more detail about how accessible this service really is.
That said, Purple Carrot is still an excellent contender and which service is best for you really depends on what you want from a meal delivery service.
If this were a comparison of purely plant-based options – Purple Carrot would win. Its vegan-friendly meals are an excellent way to add more veggies to your diet, or to try a plant-based diet for the first time. Plus, Purple Carrot offers ultimate vegan-diet convenience with prepared meals delivered to your door.
Healthy features of Freshly meals include high-quality ingredients that are free of anything artificial and refined sugar. The meals are made to order by the company's in-house chefs right before they’re packaged and delivered. The company also uses non-GMO expeller pressed canola oil – a non-harmful oil with a mild flavor.
For those interested in raw foods and a plant-based diet, Freshly meals aren’t for you.
Freshly can be family-friendly, depending on the size of your household and how many meals you want to order per week. While the maximum amount of meals you can order per week is 12, you could create a second subscription and order another 12 meals from there.
However, you’ll want to ensure that the price is affordable for your family. Dishes start from $6.90 per serving (before tax or shipping). To make Freshly meals more affordable, you can use our code for: Get $175 off your first 7 boxes!
The menu also doesn’t change that frequently so there is a chance that little ones could get bored of the same dishes.
Purple Carrot claims that most of its non-produce items are organic, such as its tofu and milk alternatives. Due to issues with sourcing and shipping, Purple Carrot doesn’t offer 100% organic foods. If organic produce is important to you, check out our list of the Best Organic Meal Delivery Services.
Yes! Purple Carrot’s entire menu is plant-based. You will find zero meat, fish, or animal products like eggs and dairy milk on the menu.
Purple Carrot even makes the effort to provide high protein options, promising a minimum of 20g of protein per dish. The service also uses protein substitutes that are minimally processed, like beans and quinoa, instead of the usual highly processed meat alternatives.