Finding a meal delivery service that works for your lifestyle can be challenging. You might want a more convenient way to feed your family, a simple way to add more veggies to your weekly menu, or a way to avoid the hassles of planning and shopping during the week. Whatever your need – one of these two delivery services is for you.
I review meal delivery services professionally and in this article, I’ll be comparing two of the most popular meal delivery services out there. Home Chef is one of the best meal delivery services for the classic American diet, while Purple Carrot is one of the best meal delivery services for plant-based vegan dieters. Needless to say, the menus of these two services are very different!
However, after comparing menu variety, pricing, meal prep times, customer support, and more, there was one clear overall winner between these two services.
Home Chef won for me because it offers the Gold Standard of meal delivery customer support features – an iOS and Android-compatible app and live chat with customer support agents. Having customer support available at the click of a button fulfills the convenience potential that a meal delivery service can.
Read on to find out more about menu variety, customization, and unboxing of each of these services.
Winner: Home Chef
Home Chef wins this category because it offers more weekly entrees and add-ons. The main entree menu includes 25+ meal kit recipes that are rotated each week. The cuisine variety is mostly Standard American, with some Mediterranean and Mexican meals here and there.
What’s great about Home Chef’s menu is that you can see available recipes for the next six weeks. This makes meal planning super easy since you can plan what you’d like to order in advance. Few meal delivery services post their menus this far in advance, which is a feature I find super convenient and is especially useful for people who have busy schedules and need to plan.
All entrees on the menu are labeled in various categories, including Fast & Fresh, Fast & Fresh Family, Fast & Fresh Plus, Oven-Ready, Oven-Ready Family, Oven-Ready Plus, Family Meal, Meal Kit, Express, Express Plus, and Culinary Collection. You can type in any label in the search bar to filter the weekly published menus by category.
While this makes searching the menu easy for the category you want to peruse, note that the options shown are for the entire six weeks of the currently published menu. You might see ten options per category, but only two of those could be for the current week.
Express meals take 10 to 15 minutes prep time, Fast & Fresh meals take 15 to 20 minutes prep time, and Culinary Collection meals take 30 to 50 minutes prep time.
All recipes come in a minimum of two portions per meal, and you can choose up to six portions per recipe. This is great if you’re cooking for a family. Most meal delivery services only allow you to select up to four portions per recipe. Any meal with “Family” on the label means that must order a minimum of four portions of that meal.
Another unique feature of Home Chef’s menu is that you can choose how many portions you want per recipe. Meal delivery services usually make you choose the same number of portions for all recipes. With Home Chef you can choose six portions for a recipe you know you like and two for a recipe you’re trying for the first time.
Once you’ve chosen a minimum order of two meals for two people, you can start selecting extras. Add-ons include a wide variety of 20+ options like salads, breads, pizzas, desserts, drinks, foods bundled in price-reduced packages, and fully prepared proteins, veggies, and breakfasts.
With Home Chef’s add ons you can even build your own meals or enhance the meal kits you’ve already ordered. This significantly increases menu variety! I’m always happy to see meal delivery services that offer add-ons you can construct into your own meals.
From Home Chef’s menu, you can build your own meals with a salad, protein, side, dessert, and even a Naked juice or a canned latte from La Colombe (one of the best coffee companies, in my opinion!). Or, you can enhance proteins in your meals by ordering a protein pack.
The bundles are simple but particularly convenient since food arrives microwave-, oven-, or grill-ready. The menu usually includes 6 to 8 bundles per week that are savory or sweet.
You can also order protein packs of meats like chicken breast, steaks, salmon, and shrimp. I was surprised to see that Home Chef even offers filets mignon and sirloin steak! You can even order a bundle of shrimp, salmon, and sirloin. You can prep them in a pan, in the oven, or on the grill – however you prefer.
You’ll find plenty of familiar options if you’re feeding children and some more complex recipes for the more mature palates. Familiar options are great for kids and include recipes like the Shrimp Alfredo Risotto with Grape Tomatoes. For even more kid-friendly options, you can swap the shrimp for diced boneless and skinless chicken breasts, Impossible Burger, or double the shrimp portion for growing kids.
For the more mature palates, you can look for recipes on the menu labeled Culinary Collection. These recipes include more complex spices, sauces, and premium proteins like filet mignon or sirloin steak. They cost a few dollars more than the average meal price.
Since they’re more complex culinary projects, they’ll also take a little longer time to prep at an average of 40 minutes but will be well worth it. Culinary Collection meals are great for a Friday night in.
The Bistro Filets Mignon with Truffle Frites is one recipe that looks too tasty and indulgent to pass!
Purple Carrot’s entire menu is plant-based vegan and includes 10 meal kits, eight microwave-ready meals, and four or five snacks per week. Meal kits include six dinners, two lunches, and two breakfasts, and come in portion sizes of two or four, while microwave-ready meals come in single portions.
While Purple Carrot doesn’t offer as many recipe options, ingredients and cuisines are more varied than Home Chef’s. Plus, the whole menu rotates each week like Home Chef’s. You’ll find a mix of Mediterranean, Indian, Asian, and Southeast Asian-inspired recipes every week. Each meal kit is packed with veggies, herbs, and spices, and features veggies as the star flavors of each dish.
The Crispy Bombay Potatoes with Cilantro Cauliflower Salad and Tahini Yogurt features Yukon Gold potatoes, onions, and beluga lentils as the main components of the dish, flavored with natural herbs and spices, including cilantro, dill, lemon, garlic, and cumin.
What’s special about Purple Carrot’s menu is that it offers eight fully prepared, microwave-ready meals. Whether you’re a seasoned plant-based dieter, trying plant-based foods for the first time, or simply attempting to include more plants in your diet, having microwave-ready meals in the fridge makes meal planning and prep 100% hassle-free.
You won’t have to set foot in a grocery store, sift through produce to find the freshest stock, or purchase extra herbs and spices you might not typically use. Purple Carrot does it all for you with its fully prepared meals. This is the easiest way to add more veggies to your menu or stay on track with your vegan diet plan.
Purple Carrot’s microwave-ready meals include the same variety of cuisines as its meal kit menu. You’ll find options like the Indian-inspired vegan Golden Aubergine Korma with Carrot Biryani. Fully prepared meals come in microwave-ready, recyclable trays – all you have to do is heat in the microwave for two to five minutes.
While this is a section about menu variety, I want to take a few lines to mention ingredient quality. Purple Carrot wins against Home Chef in menu content because of its high-quality ingredients. Home Chef ingredients are more standard grocery store ingredients, while Purple Carrot sources as many non-GMO, organic, local, and seasonally fresh ingredients as possible.
Plus, Purple Carrot uses zero artificial fillers, sweeteners, or preservatives in its recipes. Most produce is also non-GMO and organic, and the service is constantly increasing non-GMO and organic foods as it finds reliable sources with decent pricing. Quality is a top priority of Purple Carrot’s service, but it also wants to offer its meals at affordable prices.
On the other hand, Home Chef uses preservatives in its foods, such as colorants, sulfites, and/or artificial sweeteners like aspartame. You’ll find these in most of its non-fresh, processed foods like sauces and dressings, breads, tortillas, sausages and seafood, and seasonings and rubs.
In conclusion, Home Chef has better menu variety since it offers more options per week, but Purple Carrot has better ingredient quality, cuisine variety, and nutrient-dense foods.
If you want more menu options, bigger portion sizes, and add-ons that allow you to build your own meals – Home Chef is for you. If you want more nutrient-dense, higher ingredient quality, plant-based vegan options – Purple Carrot is for you.
Winner: Home Chef
Home Chef wins for its protein-swapping feature and add-ons that allow you to build your own meals. Purple Carrot offers excellent, nutrient-dense plant-based meal kits with some dietary options, including fully prepared microwave-ready meals, but you can’t customize recipes as much as you can Home Chef’s.
Home Chef’s protein swapping feature is available on its main menu recipe cards. For recipes that have swappable proteins, you’ll see a button that says View Customize-It Options.
Swappable options even include Impossible brand meats for those interested in introducing more plant-based, vegetarian foods. Most Home Chef meals are a balance of meat or fish with veggies and carbs, so this option is great for vegetarians who like Home Chef’s menu and service.
When choosing your meal plan, you can choose from Home Chef’s entire menu or Fast & Easy options that filter the menu to only include meals with prep times of 30 minutes or less. Next, you can choose whether you want carb-conscious or calorie-conscious meals.
After that, you can choose from nine ingredients you’d like to exclude. While this is typically seen as an excellent customizing option, the ingredient exclusions serve more as menu filters than they do as ingredient exclusion features.
The way ingredient exclusion works with Home Chef’s menu is that the whole meal with that ingredient will be excluded from your menu options as you’re checking out. Home Chef doesn’t remove ingredients from meals.
So if you choose to exclude sesame from your meals, any menu items with sesame ingredients will be excluded from your meal options when you choose your meals for your delivery. Since Home Chef meals are kits, your better option is to customize protein in the recipes you want, then leave out the ingredient you don’t want when you prepare the meal.
As mentioned in the previous section, you have even more customizable options with Home Chef’s add-ons. You can purchase a mix of protein packs, veggies, sides, salads, or breads to construct your own meals, and add on a dessert to round off your meal. With 20+ add-ons that rotate each week, you’ll never run out of options to mix and match meals to your preferences.
Purple Carrot doesn’t offer protein swaps or extras to the extent that Home Chef does, but it offers three meal plans to customize your meals. Once you’ve chosen the number of meals you want per week, you choose between Gluten-Free, Quick & Easy, and High Protein plans. And since all Purple Carrot meals are plant-based vegan, they’re dairy- and meat-free by default.
The Gluten-Free plan isn’t certified gluten-free, but the service ensures that all meals you receive have zero gluten added and weren’t prepped near foods with gluten in them. The Quick & Easy plan only includes meals with prep times of 30 minutes or less.
The High Protein option ensures that each meal has a minimum of 20 g 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. Having a high protein option is excellent on a plant-based diet since that can be the most difficult macronutrient to satisfy when eating mostly veggies.
Both menus tag their recipes by category so you can easily scan for recipes you prefer before signing up.
Winner: Home Chef
Home Chef wins this round for me because it offers one of the most convenient features a meal delivery service can – choosing your delivery day. It also offers an app through which you can manage all account details.
Ordering from both services is straightforward. With Home Chef, you can choose from its main menu, or its Fast & Easy menu, which will filter your recipe options to only include meals with prep times of 30 minutes or less. You’ll select how many portions of each meal you want for how many days each week from a range of four to 36 servings per week.
You can then choose whether to exclude meals with certain ingredients from your recipe selections, including pork, beef, poultry, fish, shellfish, mushrooms, tree nuts, peanuts, and sesame. Once you enter your delivery and payment information, you can select the delivery day for your first order and then select the meals you want.
With Purple Carrot, you choose between meal kits and prepared meals. 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 one or the other with an order range of 6-12 servings for kits and 4-10 for prepared meals. 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, and choose your meals for the week.
Both Home Chef and Purple Carrot deliver to the 48 contiguous US states.
The main feature that gives Home Chef 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 three to five days from which you can choose to receive your recurring delivery.
While changing or canceling your order for either service is pretty easy, Home Chef wins again thanks to its iOS- and Android-compatible app. I find that meal delivery services with apps are the easiest to use since you can manage every subscription detail from your mobile device.
For Home Chef, you can change any order detail or cancel your subscription 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. I recommend using the website or phone line since the live chat is intermittently responsive. More on that in the customer support section.
The Home Chef order change cutoff is Friday 12 pm Central Time of the week preceding your delivery. So if you usually receive your delivery on a Wednesday, you’ll need to make changes before 12 pm Central Time on the Friday before that Wednesday.
The Purple Carrot order change cutoff 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. Home Chef’s and Purple Carrot’s meal kits arrive bundled according to recipes. Each meal is labeled with a sticker denoting the name of the meal. Here’s an example of unboxing Purple Carrot’s meal kits, which is very similar to Home Chef’s.
Purple Carrot and Home Chef include printed recipe information in your box. For both services, all recipe information, including images of how your meal should look at each step, is included in your printed recipes as well as on the website.
Printing recipes on paper isn’t environmentally friendly, but the added convenience is preferred for meal kit delivery services. In my experience, having printed recipe cards for meal kits makes meal prep 100% easier since you won’t have to constantly scroll through the website on your laptop or mobile device with food-covered fingers.
Purple Carrot’s recipe booklet is super detailed and includes 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.
Home Chef’s recipe cards are full-page cards that are meant to be saved for continued use. They arrive three-hole-punched so you can collect them in a binder. Oven-ready meals from Home Chef arrive in metal trays. Home Chef’s and Purple Carrot’s fully prepared meals arrive individually packaged with heating and nutritional information clearly labeled on each meal’s sleeve.
Purple Carrot and Home Chef include detailed instructions about storing produce on printed recipe cards, on website recipe cards, and in the FAQ section. You can view exact storage and heating instructions for each type of produce and protein.
While Home Chef advises against freezing dairy or produce ingredients, you can freeze meat and seafood for a later time. Steak, chops, and poultry can be frozen for 4-6 months, while ground meat can be frozen for 3-4 months, and fish and seafood for 2-3 months.
Both services recommend cooking and eating meal kit fresh produce within about three to five days of receiving your delivery. If the fresh ingredients are stored properly, however, they can last up to a week. Purple Carrot 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 use quite a bit of plastic. Ingredients are individually packaged in plastic bags or containers, then bagged again according to the recipe. Plastics are all recyclable for both services, and while the extra bagging according to the recipe is super convenient, that’s a lot of extra plastic.
Both services keep food fresh with reusable ice packs and use cardboard boxes that are curbside recyclable. Packaging material is also completely recyclable except for the fiber/denim liners used to insulate food during delivery. You’ll have to cut open the liners and remove the fiber or denim, toss them, then recycle their covers. Fortunately, the fiber/denim is at least post-consumer reused material.
You can find details about how to recycle each piece of packaging in both websites’ FAQs.
Winner: Purple Carrot
Both services offer meal kits with prep times ranging from 10 to 50 minutes, but Purple Carrot offers fully prepared microwave-ready meals that take two to five minutes to heat and eat. Home Chef offers a few fully prepared breakfasts, sides, salads, breads, and oven-ready pizzas in its add-ons, but Purple Carrot’s fully prepared entrees take the cake.
They arrive in microwave-ready trays so that all you have to do is heat, eat, and recycle or reuse the tray. These are great for busy nights when you want fast, fresh, healthy food heated in minutes. They’re also great if you want minimal hassle in trying plant-based vegan foods for the first time or are trying to include more veggies in your diet.
If you want to improve your cooking skills or enjoy getting into culinary projects – meal kits from either service are great options. Meal kits involve cooking basics like chopping, peeling, mixing, sauteing, seasoning, baking, and more.
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.
Winner: Home Chef
Home Chef easily wins in this category since it offers the Gold-Standard customer support features in the meal delivery service industry – an iOS and Android-compatible app and live chat with super responsive customer support agents. Other features include the chatbot that connects you to a live chat agent, phone, and email.
You can manage all account details via the app on your mobile device, including rescheduling your order or even canceling your subscription. You can also chat with a customer service agent via the app. Having this level of convenience really makes using a meal delivery service super seamless in your daily life, and makes using a meal delivery service worth it.
You can reach Home Chef customer support via live chat or phone Monday – Friday from 9 am to 6 pm CST and Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm CST.
The quickest way to get a response from Home Chef customer services is via the live chat option. Each time I reached out via live chat, I was connected to a Home Chef agent in a minute or less.
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 or two times out of every 10 attempts. While Purple Carrot’s live chat agents typically respond every five to 15 minutes, so it doesn’t feel as “live” as Home Chef’s. The phone line is much faster.
Purple Carrot’s phone line and chat are 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.
Both services also have FAQs, but Home Chef’s is more extensive and easily navigable than Purple Carrot’s. Home Chef’s chatbot also serves as an FAQ with even more answers than the FAQ on the website. Purple Carrot’s chatbot answers some FAQs, but Home Chef’s is, again, more extensive.
Winner: It’s a tie!
Home Chef and Purple Carrot have equal per-serving pricing at 12 servings per week. Since Home Chef allows you to order up to 36 servings per week of meal kits or fully prepared meals and Purple Carrot only allows you to order up to 12 servings of meal kits or 10 fully prepared meals, I compared prices starting at Purple Carrot’s maximum of 12 servings per week.
Home Chef’s and Purple Carrot’s per meal price at 12 servings per week is $11 per meal, including shipping! Home Chef charges $10.99 for shipping, while Purple Carrot’s shipping is free for orders over $85. Despite this fact, per meal prices event out exactly.
If you use our discount code, prices start at excluding the first-box discount or the discount we offer below.
If you want to order more meals per week, you’ll have to order from Home Chef. As you order more meals per week, per-meal prices slightly decrease. You can order up to 36 servings per week from Home Chef, at which point per serving prices drop to about $10.30 per serving. That’s about $371 per week including shipping.
36 meals are great to order if you’re feeding a family, and if you can afford a hefty almost $1500 per month to feed your family, the convenience is worth it!
Meal plan and pricing differ a little from Purple Carrot when it comes to Purple Carrot’s Prepared Meals. With Purple Carrot, you’ll need to choose between receiving only meal kits or only fully prepared meals. Prepared meal prices start at $13 (including shipping) and remain a fixed price whether you order six, eight, or 10 meals. That’s a total of about $140 per week.
Home Chef only offers one or two microwave-ready meals in the add-on section each week that are breakfasts or snacks, and don’t exist as a separate meal plan.
When choosing which service is better for you, don’t forget to consider Purple Carrot’s extras – which start at about $5.99 per item. There are about four or five fully prepared plant-based snacks from the “Plantry” each week.
Couples or families who want to avoid the grocery store and have a wide variety of recipes
Couples or families who want to add more plant-based meals to their diet
$6.99 per serving
$8.50 per serving
$10.99 for orders of 3+ meals
$13.99 for orders under $50
From $8 per week, or free on orders over $85
2 meals for 2 people
3 meals for 2 people per week or 6 single-serving meals
10 meal kits
8 prepared meals
5 to 60 minutes
2 to 50 minutes
Microwave-Ready, Oven-Ready, Grill-Ready, Quick & Easy meal kits
Prepared, Microwave-ready; Quick & Easy meal kits
Allergies catered to
Vegetarian, plant-based gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, high-protein
Phone, webform, FAQ
Live chat, email, phone, FAQ
Home Chef wins this comparison because it offers the best overall customer support features including an app, you can choose your delivery day each week, and there are more recipes and extras on the menu each week.
Having super responsive customer support is essential when you use a meal delivery service in case you want to change your order contents, delivery day, or any other detail about your weekly order. After all, meal services are about adding convenience to your daily life, and Home Chef has your back.
Home Chef meals all come in minimum portions of two servings and up to six servings, so they’re best for couples or families wanting to ease up on grocery shopping and meal planning.
Purple Carrot’s meal kits are in two or four servings, and its prepared meals are in one serving, so its menu is better for singles or couples wanting to add more plants to their weekly diet. Plus, if this were a comparison of ingredient quality and plant-based options – Purple Carrot would win by a mile!
Home Chef uses multiple delivery carriers, including FedEx, Veho, AxelHire, and CDL, depending on the region you live in. If you want to find out which carrier is used in your zip code, you can contact customer service via the Home Chef app, live chat, phone, or email.
Yes. Home Chef offers fully prepared meals in its add-on section. You can find fully prepared ingredients like proteins, veggies, or mixed salads. The main menu offers easy prep recipes that require five to 10 minutes prep before you pop them in the oven or on the grill.
Purple Carrot is a 100% plant-based meal delivery service. All meals are prepared with veggies as the bulk content and star flavors of each recipe on the menu. The entire menu changes each week and includes Mediterranean, Indian, Mexican, and Asian-inspired flavors. You can customize your meals to be gluten-free, soy-free, or high-protein.