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Online Grocery Shopping: Failures and Favorites

Online Grocery Shopping: Failures and Favorites

It’s that dreaded time of week again: time to go to the grocery store.

The pantry is empty and all that’s left in the fridge is the fancy mustard set you got for Christmas and an almost-empty bottle of almond milk.

You’re so exhausted from the work-week and want to RELAX, not battle the Saturday morning lines in Trader Joe’s or the Whole Foods parking lot.

Well I have good news for you.

With our advancing technology, you can buy almost anything online… including fresh foods!

I’ve been doing most of my grocery shopping online lately, and there have been definite winners and definite losers.

I started my online shopping journey loving the idea of Amazon Fresh (hello, organic fresh veggies). I felt comfortable with Amazon and knew I’d get a good quality product. Then, I moved on to health food dry goods from Vitacost and Swanson. Then I discovered local delivery services through Vons, and finally (one of my favorites), Thrive Market.

I thought it would be helpful to talk you through some of the pros and cons of each, best products, and what “awards” I would assign each service, in case you’re looking into trying one of them! 

 

Thrive Market

The deets: Lots of variety on this site! Vegan and paleo food, gluten free items, essential oils, beauty products. It’s kind of a one-stop shop if you’re into natural health and conscious/clean eating. 

Sign up: http://go.thrv.me/SH55M for 25% off and free shipping with your first order. 

Cost: $59.95 per year

Best products: Kettle and Fire Bone Broth, Great Lakes Gelatin, Primal Kitchen ranch, Nuco coconut wraps, Epic bars, Nutiva coconut oil, Farmer’s Market Foods organic pumpkin puree in cartons (no cans!), Nativas organic gogi berries, Simply Organic spices, Sejoyia Foods Snip Chips (parsnip), That’s It fruit bars, Nutpods coffee creamer, Justin’s maple almond butter, Dr. Bronner’s castile soap, Bach Rescue Remedy, Go Raw cookies, Mamma Chia squeeze pouches, Late July chips and crackers.

Highlights:

1. Tons of variety! I’m pretty well-entrenched in the health and wellness world, but I discovered products and brands I hadn’t heard of. I love that.

2. There are 34 full pages of vegan foods. I’m not vegan, but a lot of these look delicious. Vegan BBQ jerky? Go Raw Sprouted live chocolate granola? This is the perfect site for vegan and paleo friends.

3. Socially-conscious products: fair trade items. I definitely don’t mind paying more for fair trade certified items, knowing that the workers are paid a fair wage and work in good conditions.

4. They have a great beauty product variety, including “first-aid” products, which many other websites don’t offer. You can get your bandaids, your gauze, your makeup, your sunscreen, your essential oils, your hair care, and even natural intimate products all in one place.

5.  I’m loving this beautiful “shop by diet” graphic on the first page. Good design, easy to navigate. 

Downsides:

1. No fresh items! Obviously a big downside.

2. The subscription. Though it’s not expensive, it is about $5 a month, and it’s another “subscription” to keep in the back of your head. I’m so worried that I subscribed to something when I was a preteen and I’m somehow still paying for it every month without knowing haha.

Awards: Best dry food variety, most organic and non-gmo foods, best for specific diets (vegan, gluten-free, paleo), best beauty products.

 

 

Amazon Fresh

The deets: Amazon Prime’s version of online groceries. Order the exact same way you order anything on Amazon. You schedule a delivery window first, so you know exactly when your groceries are arriving (usually you have to schedule a day or two ahead of time). HUGE PLUS: They just added Whole Foods products (Amazon bought out Whole Foods, in case you didn’t hear). 

Sign Up: If you don’t already have Amazon Prime, you can sign up here for a free 30-day trial: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. Just don’t forget to cancel if you don’t want to continue the subscription (add a reminder to your phone!)

Cost: $14.99 a month add-on if you have Prime

Best products: Fresh veggies, fresh fruits, 365 products from Whole Foods, local market specialty items.  

Highlights:

1. Extremely user-friendly and intuitive interface–just like using Amazon Prime.

2. Offers local products from speciality restaurants! There’s an amazing restaurant called Mission Heirloom Cafe in Berkeley, CA and they specialize in AIP/Paleo foods. I can order their Yucan Crunch crackers, mason jars of bone broth, dandelion truffle pesto, carrot ginger soup… all through Amazon Fresh. I can also order fish from the San Francisco Fish Company and cheese from La Fromagerie. How cool!

3. The best option for fresh food, with a decent variety. I’ve noticed they ARE adding new items to the menus. I used to not be able to buy fresh turmeric from Amazon Fresh, and today, it’s available. They also recently added organic granny smith apples. I’m probably fussier about veggies than many people, so if you’re just looking for the basics, it’s definitely all there.

4. You can get sliced deli meat and cheese if you’re a sandwich person! It comes in 0.5 lb portions.

5. The prices seem fair, to me. I don’t feel like they’re gauging prices to make up for the “free” shipping. I can get two pounds of organic carrots for $1.99 and a large bunch of organic kale for $2.49. It seems similar to what I’d see in the grocery store.

6. You don’t have to be home for the delivery (though, you can request an option for a hand-off).

7. You can keep adding items to the cart after you place your order.

8. I’ve never had them forget an item or get an order wrong.

9. They keep produce cool and frozen items frozen with ice packs and dry ice.

Downsides:

1. The packaging is poorly done and the coolers take up a lot of room. Sometimes, you’ll get a big cooler with ONE item in it. That will happen probably every time you order, unless your location packs more efficiently than ours does. (: The coolers DO break down, but there’s so much packaging and dry ice and ice packs that it’s just overwhelming. The best way to use this service, I think, is to place smaller orders twice a week. That way, you’re not overwhelmed by coolers and they do pick up the previous coolers the next time they deliver. It’s also not available everywhere.

2. The service is getting more popular, so you really have to think ahead if you want your groceries. Most times I order, I have to wait 2-3 days to reserve my delivery window.

3. You don’t get to pick your produce. I haven’t had any issues with anything looking wilted or brown, and I’ve used Amazon Fresh probably a dozen times. My husband, however, doesn’t like that someone is picking out his veggies for him haha.

4. The mailman doesn’t seem to like lugging a dozen coolers to my door. Haha. I usually feel bad and go out and help.

5. No coupons or deals, really.

Awards: Best for fresh foods, most well-rounded grocery haul, best for people who plan ahead

 

 

Vitacost

The deets: Another health and supplement website, kind of like Thrive or Swanson.

Sign up: www.vitacost.com 

Cost: No membership fee. 

Best products: Jason toothpaste, Simple Mills almond flour crackers, Jackson’s Honest sweet potato chips, Desert Essence shampoo and conditioner, Pacific organic bone broth, Seventh Generation cleaning wipes, Vital Proteins collagen peptides, Tinkyada brown rice pasta, Redmond real sea salt, Primal Kitchen avocado oil mayo, NOW foods raw nuts, Go Raw pumpkin seeds, Wonderfully Raw anything (Coco-roons, Brussel Bytes), YS Eco Bees raw Manuka honey, Coconut Secret coconut aminos.

Highlights:

1. It’s very easy to shop by diet/allergy or specification. There are checkboxes on the side for non-gmo, gluten-free, egg-free, peanut-free, kosher, raw, etc. It’s one of the only websites I’ve seen that has that!

2. Reviews of items. This is great for a website like Vitacost, because you’re probably going to come across things you’re curious about (like… what do people use raw cacao nibs for? or… I wonder if this plant protein is even palatable?). That’s what’s great about shopping online. In stores, you can’t see reviews or comments on products before trying them.

3. Coupon codes that are very evident! I hate searching the internet to try to get a discount code when I’m shopping. Vitacost puts the discount right under the product. For example, I just came across this amazing butternut squash risotto on the website, and right underneath, there’s a 20% off code for entering VCBRAND20. Easy!

4. It’s not a subscription service, like Thrive Market and Amazon Fresh.

Downsides:

1. No fresh items. This is obviously a huge downside if you’re looking to do your full grocery haul online.

2. There are so many items that I sometimes get overwhelmed and don’t want to search forever.

Awards: Best for obscure health items, supplement king, best packaging, okay for raw vegans, good for paleo and Whole 30.

 

 

Vons

The deets: This store is in California/Nevada only, right now. Albertsons owns Vons and Safeway (which is as close to Meijer as you can get here, for all my midwest and Michigan readers). I love this service because it’s the only one where you can get SAME DAY delivery, since it’s local. They also offer really great “free shipping” deals. Today, I signed in and saw that if I added an “O Organic” item to the cart, I would get free shipping. When I clicked on the deal, there were literally HUNDREDS of options: lettuce, tea, baby items, spices, cheese, cereal, hummus, herbs, veggies. 

Sign up: www.vons.com

Cost: $20 off and free shipping on orders $50+ for your first order.

Best products: Anything you would find in a grocery store! 

Highlights:

1. There is a spot at the end to specify substitutions. This means there is a “runner” in the store actually grabbing off the shelves for you. You can tell him/her to substitute same brand, same item, or not at all if they don’t have exactly what you ordered.

2. It’s not a subscription service, like Thrive Market and Amazon Fresh.

3. It’s basically like being in your local grocery store. There are so many options, and even MORE produce options than Amazon Fresh. You can buy different sized bags of mixed veggies (for stirfry), all different brands of lettuce mixes, etc. More freedom!

4. Everything is local and fresh. It doesn’t have to travel far to get to you (good for food spoilage, the local economy, AND for the environment).

5. Hello SAME DAY DELIVERY! This should be first on my highlights list! This is a HUGE plus if you’re like me and realize in the morning that you need some ingredients for a dish you want to make for dinner. Such a life-saver!

6. You can shop by aisle, by recipe, or by history.

Downsides:

1. You do have to be home and sign off on the delivery. They use a refrigerated truck, and no ice packs in the bags (I think it’s a plus… see my note about Amazon coolers haha).

2. The prices are higher than Amazon Fresh. For example, two pounds of organic carrots are $3.29 here, instead of $1.99 at Amazon Fresh.

3. If you don’t specify substitutions, you might get something you won’t eat. I ordered a bag of organic peppers, and they didn’t have it, so they gave me a bag of conventional peppers. It was fine, since I just gave them to my guinea pigs. This was my fault, too, because I didn’t specify “no substitutions.”

4. They might leave something off of your list completely. Usually my grocery orders are mostly veggies and fruit, but for my first order, I added one box of gluten free chicken nuggets for convenience. We all have those nights where we just DON’T feel like making a fresh salad or green juice. (: When the man came to deliver my order, he said they didn’t have those in stock, so they left it out.

5. The substitution page is a bit daunting. That’s why I skipped it. Haha.

Awards: Best fast and local delivery, best for procrastinators (same-day delivery if you order before 8:30 am), best incentives.

 

Have you tried any online shopping for groceries? I definitely want to hear about it in the comments. Tell me your good experiences and your nightmares! 

PS: You’re cordially invited to my Private Facebook Group, before doors close! We’ll be talking about things like stress-reduction, self-care, healthy recipes, saunas, dry brushing, detox habits, and more. Would love to see you there!

 

 



7 thoughts on “Online Grocery Shopping: Failures and Favorites”

  • As far as I know, we don’t have these kinds of services except for iherb. I am so envious that you have access to so many of these amazing services! I-hate-grocery-shopping! Haha!

    Thank you for your in-depth review though, fingers crossed the new Australian amazon brings the veggie version! It would save me a few extra hours every week! 🙂

    Keep up the amazing work! x

  • You know this pis the is perect timing for me. I use to love going to the grocery store but lately I have been absolutely dreading it for some reason. I was seriously looking into grocery shopping online! I don’t know anyone who does it. This is perfect. Thank you!

  • I have shopped from Thrive before. I absolutely love how fast their shipping was and how quickly I got everything. They have some fabulous prices too!

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