My Experiment With A Home Grocery Delivery Service
A grocery delivery service allows you to select a number of meals and then sends you a weekly batch of groceries and recipes.
Recently, I tried a popular grocery delivery service just to see how easy it would be to make home-cooked meals based on recipes they send.
I’m not going to name the one I used because while the food was fresh and the recipes were creative, my issue with this kind of service isn’t about a particular brand.
The way this one works is, I’m assuming, similar to the way most similar services work: you specify the number of meals you want per week and the number of people you’re cooking for. Then, like clockwork, the company sends you a large cardboard box loaded with groceries and meats (and ice packs to keep them safe). There are also nice recipe cards that show you exactly how to prepare each dinner.
The one I tried specified that each meal is about $10.
When you consider going out to eat, $10 is about what you’d pay, so while it’s not necessarily economical, it’s not entirely unreasonable, either.
But the problem is, it’s not $10 per meal as the literature read.
It’s $10 per meal per person.
So when I said I wanted three meals a week, and selected to send food for two, the cost was suddenly $60, not $30.
Since I’m a bachelor, I don’t really need to cook for two, although the dog is always happy if I choose to do so.
But choosing a meal for one isn’t an option. So suddenly, that home-cooked meal for one becomes $20. Sure, I realize that there’s the opportunity for leftovers for lunch the next day. But who wants to pay the same price for leftovers that you’re paying for the hot dinner? Would you intentionally go to a restaurant and pay full price for food that had been cooked the night before, refrigerated and reheated?
I’ve read glowing reviews — some of them sponsored glowing reviews — of various grocery delivery services that extolled the pleasure of cooking with a partner.
Cooking alone, with the Collie watching and hoping I’d drop something he could sweep in and claim for himself, wasn’t all that exciting, but it was at least a learning experience, especially with ingredients I hadn’t tried before.
I had never tried quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) before. It was easy to cook, had a great taste, and apparently is significantly better for you than rice. Now that I know that, I’ll pick up some of it and look for ways to cook with it more often.
See, I did learn something after all.
One of the recipes, though, called for cutting some Roma tomatoes into cubes and adding them as a garnish. I’ve written before about the fact that I have a mild allergy to something in raw tomatoes that doesn’t seem to be present once the tomatoes are cooked. Maybe a doctor out there somewhere can explain that one. In any case, I naturally skipped the tomato part, but that meant tossing them.
Granted, it was just a few small tomatoes, but even so, I hated to throw them out. Unfortunately, I never saw a way to select a specific recipe and decline specific ingredients before the box shipped to my door. That option would have been nice, and would have gotten those few tiny tomatoes to someone who would have actually used and enjoyed them.
In short, I like the idea of grocery delivery services that allow you to cook with fresh ingredients. But I’m not wild about the options or the price.
Yes, I realize I’m paying for shipping. But I feel, without doing any actual calculations to compare prices, that I might be paying too much for shipping to have the convenience of only the exact amount of food I need recipe by recipe.
Two weeks after I suspended shipments, I received not one but two calls in two consecutive days asking why I’d end my service so quickly and what I’d like to see changed. To both customer service representatives, I explained the primary issue: the cost for a single person and the misleading phrasing listed on the site.
The first operator, after listening to my concerns about cost, offered me $10 off my next box. I told her I wasn’t, at this point, interested in a “next box.”
The second operator apologized for the “misunderstanding” and immediately went into instructions on how to restart shipments when I was ready.
“Let me correct one thing you said a moment ago,” I answered when I was finally able to get a word in. “There was no ‘misunderstanding.’ I understood exactly what the website said. There was a misstatement of the price on the website. There’s a big difference between ‘$10 per meal’ and ‘$10 per meal per person.’ One is, literally, double the cost of the other. Your website misstated the price.”
She apologized for her own “misstatement” and said she understood. And still encouraged me to try another box, proving, of course, that she didn’t understand any better than the first operator.