Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Purple Carrot: lazy grocery shopping for lazy people

When those meal ingredient boxes first started popping up, I didn't think they made sense. I mean, if you're too busy/lazy to go to the grocery store, wouldn't it follow that you are too busy/lazy to cook? Then in a moment of weakness (seriously, I took a day off work and spent the entire thing shopping online), I checked out The Purple Carrot, a vegan version. You choose two of the four meals they're featuring, and they send you the ingredients to make four servings of each, plus a "snack". They were running a 50% off promotion, so all that was $30. I figured $30 for basically a week of groceries delivered to my door was too good to pass up. I ordered black bean enchiladas and the goddess bowl, plus peanut butter banana oat balls. I made all the stuff and while it was certainly convenient, I felt bad about all the packaging and didn't think the food tasted exceptionally good.

A few weeks went by and I decided to give it another try (with another 50% off promo). I ordered Sweet Potato Mushroom Tacos with Mango Salsa and Korean Bibimbap, plus the Cranberry Granola Bar snack. This time I took pictures:

It's very convenient how everything comes packaged together, but again, I feel bad about all the trash it generates. I reused most of the bags and kept the ice packs, but I have no use for the box or the insulation it comes with. Anyway, I spent a few hours last Saturday putting everything together:

The cooking was pretty simple, if time consuming. As you can see, I'm reusing some bags for the granola "bars", which are more like super-sticky clumps of granola. It might be user error, though the recipes don't seem to be tested very thoroughly. Case in point: the tacos below. The proportions of the different filings were way off. And it's hard to believe that something with that many ingredients could be bland, but it really didn't have much flavor.

Here's the bibimbap, which had LOTS of spicy flavor. I only put in half of the chili paste to avoid that. Again, I think a better written/tested recipe would have cautioned about using it to taste. Also, my shipment was missing the bean sprouts that were supposed to go in this. That's not a big deal; I'm generally an ingredient or two short when I go to the store because something's either out of stock or I forget.

Verdict? The food doesn't taste GREAT, but it's a good way to ensure you'll eat something reasonably healthy, even in the midst of a Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries binge, when meal planning and going to the grocery store seem too daunting. And at half price, it's about the same price as going to the grocery store (I didn't have any problems finding promo codes through Google). They're having a Memorial Day sale, so I ordered one more box to hold me over until my CSA starts in late June.

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