My First Time: FreshDirect

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The 8:15 FreshDirect is now leaving the station.I have to admit, before I moved to NYC, the only thing I’d heard about FreshDirect was, to put it kindly, not good. So, when we got a ‘Welcome to the Neighborhood’ promotion worth $50 in free food, I was torn. Hey, fifty bucks is fifty bucks, but was it worth possibly getting strongarmed by a delivery guy? In the end (as you’ll often find is the case with me), cheapness prevailed — plus, I figured I could just have it delivered when my husband and I were both home — and I headed to their site to browse.

Now, we moved here just this past June from the suburbs north of Boston, and I still sometimes get sticker shock at the grocery store prices here. (Case in point: the Fine Fare near me, the closest chain grocery store to my apartment, sells a half-gallon of Breyer’s ice cream for [ready for it?] $7.71. Seriously! Almost eight bucks! For freakin’ Breyer’s!) I went to the site, bracing myself to find FreshDirect to be the same, if not worse, seeing as I’m paying for the convenience of not having to actually shop for it in the store. But even overpriced free stuff is still free stuff, so I pressed on.

I clicked, I browsed, I looked up a few items I knew the usual price of… and I was indeed shocked.

Just to give you a rough idea:

  • Fage Greek Yogurt — local market: $2.39, FreshDirect: $1.79
  • Citerrio Ham — local market: $3.99, FreshDirect: 2 for $6
  • Philadelphia Cream Cheese — local market: $2.89, FreshDirect: $2.29

Even with the $4.95 delivery fee, it was still cheaper than doing the shopping myself.

So, I placed an order, to be delivered the next day, at any time between 8 and 10pm. Ironically, my safety-in-numbers plan failed when my husband had to work late and the FreshDirect guy arrived no later than 8:10pm, with three boxes.

I opened the smallest of the boxes first (the one turned into a train by my kid) and found it well-filled with dry goods — cereal, cans of tuna, et cetera. Nothing crushed or damaged. So far, so good.

The next box — measuring 14″ X 17″ X 9″ — held one half-gallon of milk. That was all. In the entire box. Just milk. I have to think there’s a slightly less wasteful solution for packing that, but hey, I’m just a housewife, not a fancy-pants grocery store.

The last box (same size as the milk box) held the other refrigerated items: meats and pickles from the deli. And again, I think there must be a better way than using four deli containers to hold a total of eight pickles. Come on! Have you seen the Guss’ Pickles folk cram pickles into one of those containers? It’s like pickle Tetris down there.

So, the wasteful packaging was a downer, but the meat I ordered completely made up for it. For starters, each cut of meat on their site has 1-5 little dots, rating how tender it is, how flavorful, and the fat content. This is something I have needed my entire cooking life. For example, based on their ratings, I bought what they called “edge of eye steak” (the area between the chuck and the ribs, they say) and it was quite possibly the best steak I have ever cooked for myself. Very tender and really flavorful — just what the little dots promised.

In conclusion (and really, who knew I could say this much on one grocery delivery), I’ll definitely order from them again. I have to, in fact, because my $50 of free stuff has to be applied as $25 off two orders, but still.

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4 Comments

  1. Congratulations on the new publishing venture!

    I’ve also wondered about FD’s packing process…it must somehow relate to how they organize their back room and assembly line. We’ll have to investigate.

    I didn’t know about the dot system…I’ll have to pay attention to that.

    Good luck with this, K.!

  2. I thought maybe it had to do with keeping kosher, because there was room for the milk in the meat box.

  3. You spurred me to action…See “Why Are There So Many Boxes in My Order?” at http://www.freshdirect.com/help/faq_home.jsp?page=deliveryHome#question9.

  4. Huh. Well, okay, then. So much for my kosher theory!

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