Now that you have ideas on how to cook with pantry staples, the next problem is getting the food in the first place. The initial supplies we all panic-bought are starting to run out. The store shelves are hit or miss, and it’s increasingly difficult to find what you need. We need better quarantine grocery shopping solutions!
New York is under a shelter in place order (as are many other places all over the US and the world). And, while we usually have plenty of delivery options, the usual places are completely overwhelmed. People are either staying up half the night just hoping to grab a slot or offering enormous tips to attract the attention of Instacart drivers.
It’s hard to eat (or sleep) that way, and also difficult to plan ahead or figure out what you’re going to cook. And, if lost income is a problem right now, large tips (while well deserved) aren’t budget-friendly.
I tried a CSA farm share, and while I do like the idea of supporting local farmers, you had to take whatever they gave you. There are some foods I can’t eat, and I was concerned about waste. Normally, I could pass unwanted produce on to someone else, but not now.
And, while a number of wholesalers and distributors are now selling direct to the public, they’re geared towards suburban families with multiple people (and big freezers)!
Better Grocery Shopping Solutions
So, since the usual methods are still broken, it’s time to get creative and look for different options.
The answer is subscriptions and delivery services that don’t use the usual markets. Order what you need, pay, and then sit back and relax. You don’t have to go out, and the food comes right to your door!
The first one is Imperfect Foods. This photo is my first order. It all cost just under $30 (with a $10 coupon). Essentially, they sell food that’s unevenly sized, or crooked, or surplus, or in last month’s package design.
Basically, fruit, vegetables, dairy, and pantry foods that that are perfectly good to eat, but just won’t win any beauty contests. That allows them to offer savings on these “misfit” foods.
In addition to a rotating selection of fresh produce, meat, chicken, and dairy, they also stock standard staple items (like canned tomatoes, chicken broth, and pasta). You pick the size box you want, then choose your items and a delivery schedule.
They’ll deliver every week or every two weeks (you pick your items each time), and you can skip if you want.
And, unlike Instacart, their drivers are regular employees with full benefits and good wages. So no “cage match” fighting over jobs and tips. Use my link to start and we both get $20 off our next orders.
Then, there’s Thrive Market. They focus on healthy food, special dietary needs, and sustainability.
This includes organic, vegan, gluten-free, fair trade, paleo, and so on. It’s easy. You answer some questions about the foods you buy, and then sign up for either a monthly or yearly subscription plans with up to $20 shopping credit when you sign up.
They believe in giving back, so part of that fee goes to feed lower income people. The food is largely non-perishables, such as coffee, pasta, canned goods, cooking oil, and baking ingredients, but they also have a partnership with a company that delivers beef, pork, and chicken.
Plus, they promise lower than usual retail prices (25-50% savings). There’s a risk-free thirty day trial, so if you don’t like it you can cancel with no penalty.
Many markets are limiting how much meat you can buy. so it’s getting harder to get high quality meat (or any meat at all). The answer to that is Crowd Cow.
The usual meat distribution system has broken down because it relies on central suppliers and processing. But, smaller farms and suppliers are fine.
Crowd Cow offers dry aged grass-fed or pastured and then grain-finished beef, pastured chicken (that means the chickens run around outside), heritage pork, grass-fed lamb, and fish.
The meat is raised humanely without antibiotics (unless needed) or added hormones. They’ll even tell you what farm it came from.
You can order what you want separately, or get a recurring box (with a discount). The boxes are customizable, so you only get the foods you like.