As a food writer and cooking teacher, I have to buy groceries 3 or 4 times a week. As a New Yorker, I often have to schlep those groceries home 3 or 4 times a week on the subway. Even with sturdy tote bags, hauling fresh produce, sauces, bottles of wine and olive oil, and anything else is an extreme pain, especially during rush hour.
Then about 2 years ago, I finally took the plunge and signed up for FreshDirect, after hearing good things from friends who use it religiously. I've been using it every week since. And one of the major reasons, other than saving me backaches, is that it seems designed to suit the schedules and tastes of busy city dwellers.
First, let's talk about schedules. I love the fact that I can get grocery delivery any time from 6:30am to 11:30pm. Grocery stores aren't open so early and so late. Even if I don't normally get up that early or want to accept deliveries that late, it's nice to know that those times are available, in case of emergency. (As someone who also caters small parties from time to time, there really are instances when you really do need ingredients delivered at odd hours!) I also live on the third floor of a walk-up building, and it's pretty wonderful to have those big boxes delivered right to my door.
Then there's the selection available. I'm pretty picky about the types of meats and cuts I use for my recipes, but luckily there is plenty to choose from here. FreshDirect has a pretty big selection of organic and locally-raised meat. A few weeks ago I made Red-Cooked Beef, one of my favorite Chinese beef braises, and was thrilled to find out that they had local grassfed beef short ribs from Hardwick's. And I know they have grass-fed steaks, stew meat, and ground beef for other dishes on my to-do list. They also have heritage-raised chicken and Cornish hen if I want to do a roast and pretty much any other cut of chicken, pork, and lamb that I need for recipe testing or just a nice dinner at home. If I buy a steak or lamb chop, I can even specify the thickness.
As for local and organic fruits and vegetables, it's helpful being able to find out where they actually come from, which isn't the case with big grocery stores. (I'm partial to the organic bok choy, kale, and Swiss chard.) The five-star rating system is also very useful in determining the quality, whether or not the product is in peak season. The product pages also have nutritional information at the click of a button.
Fresh Direct also has a Youtube channel that highlights their relationships with sustainable food producers. I especially enjoyed the videos on the origins of Alaskan Copper River salmon and wild Patagonian shrimp, since they're available through Fresh Direct in my area, but other highlights include fresh corn from the Berkshires, heritage breed chickens, and humanely-raised pigs.
Recently I also found out about Quick Shop, which lets you quickly reorder favorites from past shipments without searching around again. Such a time saver! And if you don't have time to cook, there are plenty of enticing freshly-prepared meals from well-known New York restaurants, including Artisanal, Tabla, and Rosa Mexicano.
It's great having such a convenient service in a city like New York. As for custom web features, the product search is super easy, as is reserving a delivery time slot via their online schedule. I've done dozens of orders over the last two years, and the experience has been near-perfect in terms of order fulfillment. The customer service is high-quality too; my questions about orders are usually answered in about 1 to 2 hours.
Even though I now live in a neighborhood with plenty of grocery stores, I still use FreshDirect every week. It has actually cut my shopping down, so I can do one big order instead making several shopping trips. Which frees up the rest of my time to doing what I really like — cooking, recipe-testing, and blogging.
If you live in FreshDirect's delivery zones, give them a try the next time you're planning your grocery shopping!
Want to try FreshDirect yourself? Leave a comment below sharing your product-shopping tricks and tips to finding the freshest, quality food for the chance to win a $100 FreshDirect gift card, or if you are outside the delivery area you can choose a $100 Visa gift card.
Visit FreshDirect.com to learn more about their star rated produce so that you know what is fresh and in season, the great lengths they go through to source the very best food, and how customizable your order can be from deli slices and dietary needs to how and when you want your delivery!
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