New York City is an interesting place when it comes to food shopping and cooking at home. In movies, New Yorkers are often seen dining out, getting Chinese take-out delivered, and using their ovens for storage. It’s true, we have a great dining scene, but I’m a New Yorker who still enjoys cooking and eating at home most nights of the week.
With eating and cooking at home comes grocery shopping, which, in the city, is something that brings a whole other set of quirks. Depending on where you live in the five boroughs, a traditional, large format supermarket doesn’t really exist here. Rather, our groceries are usually multi-level, narrow stores that can be difficult to navigate with a cart and pretty much guarantees a long check out line. Now, with that visual, consider the new trend of online grocery shopping, where you can order your groceries from the comfort of your apartment couch!
I’ve been an in-person grocery shopper my whole New York life, but recently Danny and I decided to finally use a mailbox coupon and try online ordering for the week. I know many of you are interested in the real deal behind e-ordering, so I’m breaking down the pros and cons, as I see them, for online food shopping.
Not having to lug home bags yourself- if you have a car and are driving home from the store, this might not seem like an inconvenience, but in a walking or subway city, bringing home bags is tough work! Bags arriving at your door can be a very nice perk.
No lines to wait in- my biggest pet peeve of the grocery is the very, very long lines to check out. Ordering ONline instead of waiting IN line is a big plus for busy people.
Helps with meal planning-by placing an order online we found it forces some decision-making when it comes to food prep and planning. We also cut down on extraneous purchases and avoided the check-out line temptations this way too.
Less stressful- overall, shopping online, away from the crowds, turned out to be a less stressful experience. When it’s been a rough week or we have a hurried one ahead, shopping online can certainly help to reduce the stress of navigating a store in-person.
Not immediate- the largest downside of online ordering is definitely that you don’t get your items the same day. If not in meal prep-mode, this method of shopping won’t work very well.
No control over quality- one of the biggest reasons I like shopping myself is getting to pick up and assess the quality of my groceries, especially when it comes to produce. Ordering online means taking your chances when it comes to ripeness of certain fruits, but generally the freshness and safety of the items are fairly good.
Mishaps with product or packaging- on our first order we expected to receive some vacuum packaged steak, which we were lead to believe meant individually sealed in a way that lends itself to freezing. What we got instead was meat packaged in one of those styrofoam trays wrapped in plastic and because of this we had to adjust our meal prep plans for the week. The service we used, Fresh Direct, was nice enough to give our account a credit for the mishap though! Another note on packaging, is that I find delivery service to bundle every stinking item in a plastic bag, which just kills a small piece of my environmentalist heart each time. I prefer to shop “bagless” at the supermarket, so this is one thing I don’t have control over with delivery.
Weekly plans may change- while online shopping is great for when you have a plan, it gets tricky when those plans change. Ordering all your food up front means you have a stash that will go bad if not cooked or consumed. Whereas with in-person daily, or every other day shops, if your after-work plans are adjusted and you’re not going to be cooking at home that night, you are preventing possible food waste.
Interested in checking out online shopping? Place your first order using Fresh Direct, Amazon Fresh, Instacart, or Thrive Market to name a few.