Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Food Discovery That Changed My Life // Amazon Fresh

Not only have we been busy lately cooking up ideas for the blog, in our absence last week we discovered the most amazing discovery to our food world - Amazon Fresh delivery service! No wonder amazing is part of Amazon's name, because seriously, they continue to change my life for the better with their awesomeness. (PS: If you aren't a fan of Amazon, this post is not for you. Clearly, I'm a major fan.)

We have had an Amazon Prime membership for some time now. Once I was facing motherhood, leaving the house to go shopping for every...little...thing was not happening. So when 2-day delivery for a relatively low-cost yearly fee ($79 when we started), plus additional perks such as movies and television shows we could stream online since we don't have cable we were totally sold in an instant.

Browsing my favorite site on the big wide web, I was exploring deeper just what "grocery" options Amazon could provide on prime when I discovered the link (accidentally) for Amazon Fresh. Side note: I have been using a local grocer's delivery service for the past year and while it's been convenient it's had some catches to it that I didn't love. I had to have a $150 order and a participating item to get free delivery, their produce selection was very poor (bringing me the strawberries with the most white on them) and not delivering the wild blueberries because they didn't have them but upon going to the store for something else they forgot the next day they did have them...were they out or did they just not look hard enough?). Anyhow, I enjoyed the service for what it was but inevitably a better option perked my interest.
Amazon Fresh promised so much more! Fresh and fast delivery, grocery and non-grocery items in the same delivery, and your regular prime membership is included. All that already had me. While we would have to pay a large yearly fee that was scary at first glance ($299/year), when you break it down it really is worth it. The grocery delivery we were already using was only "free" as I mentioned when I spent $150 on an order. Not hard to do buying pantry staples, but it would be hard to do every order for us. Especially because that store didn't carry a lot of the organic items I wanted, leaving me to go to other stores in person anyhow. A 1-hr delivery window was upwards of $9 and a 4-hr window was $6. If you break down Amazon's cost per week, it's only $5/week. And you only need $35 as your minimum delivery. I can do that several times a week and my $5/week delivery fee never changes. Plus, I can order all my prime items and get the video streaming features as well. My husband made the final call: It's a win!
So far we've had two deliveries. With both I chose a 3-hour delivery window because you don't have to be home so in case I was out with my little one, I didn't have to worry. With my previous service, I had to be home. You don't have to worry about your goods - they pack your cold foods in bags lined with a styrofoam cooler and your frozen food is packed with small dry ice packs and your fridge foods with frozen water bottles. Perk - free water bottles. I'm not a fan of water bottles because we use reusable bottles, but it doesn't bother me and they are convenient for guests. Don't get me wrong, I would never buy them but if they're free and they use them sparingly just to keep your food cold...I'm not going to complain.
Amazon dropped off our groceries in their reusable green bags both times with nothing more than a light knock the time they could tell we were clearly home. They have been professional, polite and quiet - all appreciated with a little one that was taking a nap during the first delivery. Also, you just set out their easy-to-break-down bags and they take them with them to reuse.
Our 6 bags broken down to 2 for easy storage.
Conveniently tucked away with our other reusable bags until the next delivery.
Now about the actual food! So many of the brands or comparable brands that we buy are available either for the same prices or less. I have scoured for very specific brands of foods that don't contain harmful added chemicals, or use bpa cans, etc. I even have a spread sheet to keep track of some of them that I don't use all the time or I'd forget and have to research them again.  I'd be happy to share it with any of you seeking healthier food options - or maybe I'll post it here sometime. Point being, I didn't have to research completely new brands to shop here.

There are some convenient shopping features so far and I feel they will improve as the site gains popularity. You can search foods and eliminate those containing certain ingredients, such as high-fructose corn syrup. Awesome! You can also make lists, which is helpful if you are organized and like that kind of thing. I made lists for our pantry staples, produce regulars, baby items and things I want to try soon. Or if you aren't so organized, you can always just check out your past purchased list which will show everything you've ever bought in gridded photos so you can quickly add popular items to your cart again. Milk, eggs, bread...check. Two minutes shopping and you're done.

Now for the next amazing part, it'll be here within 12 hours. Yes, basically same day delivery. When it's 10:00 p.m. and you realize you don't have enough milk to get through the next day with a little one in your house, it is a major gift to be able to get on my phone app and click a few things in my cart vs. having to get on some shoes and tiredly go to the store before bed or get up early and run in the morning, or the most fun...take a wiggly worm little one to the store when they'd rather be doing anything else. I made my second order this way...out of milk, click, click, added a few other items from my staples and one fun thing from my try it lists to meet the $35 delivery limit...all money I would have spent in that month/week anyhow, yet I didn't get in the car, I didn't stress, and the very next afternoon my items were quietly delivered.

And the last exciting part that I just can't hold back from ultimate test to whether I would enjoy this service:  I ordered ripe avocados. You can choose whether you want certain produce items ripe or unripe (avocados, bananas, etc). I ordered 2 for a recipe I was making that next day - chicken tortilla soup. My pot was simmering, and at 3:30 on Super Bowl Sunday (uh huh, if you weren't amazed before - you are now) my perfectly picked avocados arrived with the milk I didn't want to drive to get the night before. The test of a perfectly picked avocado passed with flying colors for me - they were dark in color, a light give when gently squeezed and stems still intact. They were bright ombre green inside and the seed removed without struggle but not too easily. I ordered the large size at $1.25 (the small were $1.00 each which is one of the best prices at a whole foods grocery around here), and they did not disappoint on size.

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