Purple Carrot is a vegan-only meal delivery service offering both prepared meals and meal kits, and HelloFresh offers a diverse array of meal kits. But that’s just scratching the surface in terms of all of the differences between them. There are several more.
I’ve taken an in-depth, exhaustive look at each to find out what separates them. There are a few things to note before choosing one like menu variety, the number of weekly meals, shipping fees, customer service, and more.
Overall, I’ve determined that, unless you’re vegan, HelloFresh is the winner. This is thanks to its larger number of weekly meal options (not just vegan), fast meal kits, the option to order more at a time, and more affordable pricing.
HelloFresh wins here, hands-down for one simple reason – Purple Carrot is vegan-only and HelloFresh offers a variety of other meals. It offers six distinctive menu categories as well including Pescatarian, Vegetarian, Meat & Veggies, Fit & Wholesome, Family-Friendly, and Quick & Easy, some of which are suitable for vegans like the One-Pot Vegan Coconut Curry Soup. You can mix and match meals across any plan you like.
Not only that, but HelloFresh provides more weekly meal options at about 30+ choices per week. Purple Carrot only offers roughly 24 options per week. This includes eight meal kits and prepared meals, two breakfasts, two lunches, and four what it calls “plantry” items.
HelloFresh offers plenty of options for balanced diets but again, for vegans or those looking for a strictly plant-based diet, Purple Carrot still offers up a very impressive number of meals.
With HelloFresh, you can order up to six recipes for four people every week which is quite impressive. Purple Carrot allows you to order up to four meal kits made up of three servings, and 8-10 prepared dinners per week.
Things usually aren’t that cut-and-dry, though. Take, for example, Purple Carrot’s prepared meals which are something that HelloFresh simply doesn’t offer. If you’re vegan, or just prefer a plant-based diet and don’t want to spend any time cooking, Purple Carrot could be your answer. HelloFresh’s meals will always require at least some time to prep, cook, and clean.
Regarding ingredients, most of Purple Carrot’s non-produce ingredients are organic like beans, nut milk, tofu, tempeh, vegan cheeses, and yogurts. HelloFresh, on the other hand, claims that some of its ingredients are organic, but can’t guarantee it.
One of my favorite dishes from Purple Carrot is the Peanut Noodles. It’s one of the prepared meals, and is, of course, fully vegan. Best of all, it only takes two to three minutes to heat up in the microwave. The convenience factor here just can’t be matched by HelloFresh.
Though HelloFresh doesn’t offer prepared meals, it offers tons of meals that take less than 30 minutes to make. Let’s look at one of HelloFresh’s Quick & Easy meals, for example – the Sweet Chili Turkey and Green Bean Bowls. One benefit of cooking yourself is the avoidance of microwaving your meals if you’re someone who doesn’t like to do that.
In terms of cuisines, both HelloFresh and Purple Carrot offer up decent selections, but again, HelloFresh takes the win. All of Purple Carrot’s meals are exotic, with options ranging from African, Indian, Latin American, and Asian. This means it’s a bit less of a family-friendly service, in my experience.
HelloFresh, on the other hand, offers a healthy selection of all kinds of cuisines including standard American, Latin American, Italian, Korean, Asian, and Mediterranean. This brings up another good point.
If you have a family of picky eaters, or kids, HelloFresh could be a better choice since it has a specific Family Friendly plan. Also, meal kits make it easier to omit ingredients if you or someone else doesn’t like them. These have a variety of prep times and difficulty levels, depending on your skill level and time commitment. Also, the larger selection of meal kits makes it more likely that you can just order exactly what you like from the get-go.
Purple Carrot’s meal kits also come with a variety of prep times and difficulty levels. For example, the Roasted Red Pepper Shakshuka is one of the Quick and Easy meal kits. It’s easy to prepare with only three simple steps, and can be ready to eat in 30 minutes or less.
HelloFresh recently introduced what it calls “HelloCustom”. This allows you to choose your protein preferences like beef-free, pork-free, seafood-free, and veggie. It also lets you replace or upgrade 12+ sides and proteins each week. Some meals give you the option of doing this, however, it depends on the availability since the meals change weekly.
For example, you can replace different carbs and veggies like potatoes with broccoli, or proteins like chicken with steak, and more. HelloFresh offers six dietary plans. Although you can still order from the full menu, the plans you select will change the way you see the menu so the meals suited to your needs come first.
In terms of allergens, HelloFresh lists what common allergens could be contained in each recipe like wheat, fish, soy, milk, and more. Just keep in mind that there’s still a chance your meals could still have come into contact with any allergens as everything is prepared in the same facility. This could present an issue for those with severe allergies.
With Purple Carrot, allergens are also listed for each recipe. Keep in mind that like HelloFresh, ingredients may still come into contact with allergens during the cooking process.
If you have any sensitivities, allergies, or simply have dietary preferences, Purple Carrot allows you to choose from specific gluten-, soy-, and nut-free options, along with high protein. At the time of signup, you can also opt for menu items falling under either No Preference, High Protein, Gluten-Free, or Quick & Easy.
Though there’s no easy way to filter the menu down by your preferences, every Purple Carrot recipe card on the website is labeled. This way, you can at least know what’s in each recipe long before signing up and ordering.
Both services provide meal kits, so although you can’t exclude ingredients at sign-up, you’re always welcome to exclude any ingredients yourself once they’ve arrived.
HelloFresh wins this category because it delivers to all 48 contiguous states and Honolulu, HI, and Anchorage, AK. At the time of the writing of this article, you can’t get Purple Carrot delivered to your residence if you live in Alaska or Hawaii, unfortunately. But there’s more to it.
When it comes to ordering, both competitors offer a very streamlined, frictionless experience. On the HelloFresh site, all I had to do was select the Our Plans button on the top left-hand side of the screen to choose my plans, sign up, and choose my meals.
On the Purple Carrot site, all I had to do was hover over the Menus button to select either the Meal Kits or Prepared Meals categories. Both proved to be easy as pie.
If I had to choose one specific service that would win the ordering category, a slight advantage might be awarded to HelloFresh. The reason for that decision is that there are fewer steps involved overall, and more meal options per week – but again, I’m just being very nitpicky here.
When it comes to delivery, HelloFresh delivers between 8 am and 8 pm, from Monday to Friday with no weekend delivery. Your exact weekly shipment day will depend on your geographical location.
Purple Carrot offers delivery from Monday to Wednesday between 8 am and 9 pm each week. Again, the exact day of your delivery is based on your location.
Purple Carrot allows you to cancel your delivery by the weekly deadline, which is on Tuesdays, one week prior to your scheduled delivery by 11:59 pm EST. The same rule applies if you want to simply skip a week. At this time, you can’t choose a specific delivery date.
Any changes to your HelloFresh order need to be made by 11:59 pm PST five business days prior to your next scheduled delivery. For example, if your order is scheduled on a Friday, make sure you cancel it by the Friday before. If it’s scheduled for a Thursday, again, make sure you cancel it by the previous Thursday. You can cancel your week’s order, change the delivery date, or skip a week by this cutoff date.
When it comes to unboxing, both companies offer up a very similar experience. Everything is neatly labeled so that you can easily see all the ingredients and nutritional information. In terms of meal kits, you’ll be able to easily determine what ingredient is what for a streamlined cooking experience. All the ingredients you’ll need for each meal kit will be immediately obvious so you won’t have to dig around for that information.
Of course, the Purple Carrot prepared meals just have the ingredients listed on each package along with the nutritional content. Once you receive your Purple Carrot meals, you should store the prepared meal in the fridge. All the instructions for the meal kits can be found in your delivery box. Check out the best-before dates as well so you will know exactly when to use everything up by.
Regarding the recyclability of each service, some of the packaging is recyclable, and some of it isn’t. It will also depend on your specific location and the recycling bylaws. The HelloFresh box, for example, is recyclable. Its gel cold packs are also made out of recyclable plastic, though the gel itself can’t be poured down your drain.
In terms of Purple Carrot, the box itself is recyclable, as are some of the liners. For the exact recyclability of each, you can refer to Purple Carrot’s FAQ section on the website. Overall, I’ve found both services to be on par with one another with neither really outshining the other in terms of recyclability.
Winner: Purple Carrot
There’s no question that Purple Carrot takes the win here thanks to its inclusion of prepared meals. HelloFresh simply doesn’t offer any prepared meals. As such, we’ll have to compare the meal kits instead.
Regarding meal kits, both offer relatively quick-to-prepare ones. Purple Carrot’s meals can take anywhere from 30-45 minutes to prepare, with most falling somewhere around the 30-minute mark.
HelloFresh’s, on the other hand, can take anywhere from 10 minutes for the lunches to 45 minutes for mains, but again, most fall somewhere in the middle at around 20-30 minutes. Each company sorts its ingredients individually for easy recognition and prep.
Overall, I’ve seen meal kits that take much longer to prepare from some other competitors – so these fast meal kits are a welcome sight. To me, if I can prepare a meal, cook it, and clean up from it all within 60 minutes, that’s about as fast as it gets.
Every meal kit, or in Purple Carrot’s case its prepared meals, comes fresh and never-frozen. It’s up to you to either cook the food as quickly as possible or freeze it. HelloFresh’s meats should be frozen if not used within five days. It recommends you use the meat within five days after thawing and within two days for seafood. The veggies should be refrigerated as soon as you receive them, and used within one week. All veggies come inside the bags in the right amounts for each meal kit. Larger veggies, like butternut squash, will sometimes also come prechopped.
Purple Carrot recommends you store its meal kit ingredients and prepared meals in the fridge for no longer than a week. If you plan on storing some meals longer than others, Purple Carrot recommends you use up any meals with delicate ingredients first. These include meals with salad greens or leafy vegetables. If you’re not sure, each meal has a “best by” sticker so you can easily tell.
The prepared meals from Purple Carrot come in a microwave-friendly container. Keep in mind that Purple Carrot has only tested its prepared meal kits in a microwave and doesn’t recommend you heat them any other way. You can either recycle the containers after use or keep them for something else.
Any sauces you’ll use for the prepared meals come prepared as well, but the ones for the meal kits – such as the bolognese sauce – will have to be made. But the instructions make this very easy, and the sauces can usually be made in one to three steps at most.
Overall, my customer support experience was relatively similar with both competitors – though I’ve tied them in this category. However, I feel that Purple Carrot edges out HelloFresh a little bit thanks largely to its frictionless chat experience. The chat window you need to access is immediately visible on the Purple Carrot site.
HelloFresh does still offer a chat support system, but you have to dig through the site a bit to find it. And even still, once you do find it, you have to chat with the “bot” first before connecting with a live agent – Purple Carrot connects you to someone live immediately. But once you finally connect with someone using HelloFresh’s live chat, the experience is just as good as Purple Carrot’s.
Both competitors offered blazing-fast answers to my questions (within about 10 seconds of connecting).
Both HelloFresh and Purple Carrot also offer additional ways to get in touch. You’ll find a phone number and chat service available, during regular business hours, from 9 am to 5 pm. However, here’s where the two competitors differ a bit.
HelloFresh also has an app that makes it easy to contact someone on the go. Purple Carrot doesn’t have an app, but it offers an email address that HelloFresh doesn’t have. It totally depends on how you like to communicate. For me, nothing beats live chat. It’s simple, clean, straightforward, and frictionless. No wait times and immediate answers are my go-to.
If I haven’t covered something in particular you’re looking for in this article, both also offer in-depth FAQ sections with many different answers to your most common concerns. I highly recommend checking out each company’s FAQ section frequently for the most up-to-date information.
It’s easy to manage your subscription, skip weeks, or cancel your account from your account dashboard. To cancel your Purple Carrot account, skip a delivery, or make any other changes to your order, you’ll need to do so by Tuesday, one week prior to your next expected shipment by 11:59 pm EST. If you want to do the same thing with HelloFresh, the cutoff day and time is 11:59 pm PST, five days prior to your next scheduled delivery.
Again, HelloFresh wins here simply because it offers a larger variety of meals that are more affordable than Purple Carrot. If, for example, you choose the largest number of meals per week for the maximum number of people – which would mean six recipes for four people per week – HelloFresh’s pricing starts at around $3.32 per serving.
But if you choose the fewest number of meals per week for only two people, which is two recipes, you’ll end up paying a few dollars more per meal. Ordering more from HelloFresh at a time saves you more money – especially in the long run.
The maximum number of meals you can order from Purple Carrot is four servings of three different dinners per week, which would cost around $8.50 per serving. Again, ordering more at a time saves you a few dollars per serving. Its prepared meal kits work a bit differently. These always cost about $2 more than the meal kits, no matter how much you order at a time.
Regarding shipping, HelloFresh costs about $10.99 per order, but shipping for your first delivery is free. Purple Carrot uses a slightly different shipping model. All Purple Carrot orders over $85 get free shipping. Orders below $85 cost $8 for shipping. However, after your 20th box, shipping is always free.
Quick & Easy meal kits
Vegan prepared meals
$3.32 per serving
$8.50 per serving
Free - $8
2 recipes per week for 2 people
3 meal kits of 2 servings each per week, or 6 prepared meals per week
30+ choices per week
12 meal kits covering breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and 8 prepared meals
Fast meal kits
Microwave-ready prepared meals; fast meal kits
Allergies catered to
Beef-free, pork-free, seafood-free
Gluten-free, high-protein, nut-, soy-, and dairy-free
Pescatarian, Family-Friendly, Meat & Veggie, Fit & Wholesome
Phone and live chat from 9 am to 5 pm; email and app 24/7
Phone and live chat from 9 am to 5 pm; email 24/7
In simple terms, HelloFresh wins because it offers a much larger variety of weekly meals at more competitive prices. Purple Carrot simply can't compete with the number of weekly options and pricing.
However, I still believe Purple Carrot is a viable choice. If you're in search of hassle-free prepared meals that simply require heating and eating, or if you're strictly vegan, Purple Carrot would be my top recommendation here.
Overall, it was a pretty close call, but I had to award HelloFresh with the overall win.
HelloFresh suits a number of different diets but if you’re vegan and looking for no-prep prepared meals, Purple Carrot could be a better option for you. It does still offer meal kits as well in case you like cooking, or want to omit certain ingredients yourself at home.
HelloFresh is a great meal delivery service, but it doesn’t offer prepared meals. That means all meals have to be cooked. But if you’re someone who likes cooking, you might be surprised to find out that HelloFresh offers super fast meal kits that take as little as 10 minutes to prepare for lunch, and less than 30 minutes for dinner.
It depends on your budget but I would say yes. Purple Carrot pricing starts at around $8.50 per serving. It offers a decent selection of meal kits and prepared meals, and Keep in mind that, the more you order, the more you’ll stand to save on each order.