Is Fresh Direct Worth It?

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fresh direct in nyc

The Fresh Direct website offers a full stock of regular grocery items, meat, deli, cheese, other dairy plus home items like cat food and laundry detergent. They also deliver alcohol and wine in some locations. I had first heard of this service a while ago but kept asking myself… is Fresh Direct worth it? I knew there was a delivery charge and some of their items are higher priced. I’ve been trying it out for the past few months and am pretty happy so far.


If Your Closest Grocery Store Isn’t Close At All

My closest real grocery store, a Foodtown, is about a 12-minute walk from home. Usually this is fine but can become a hassle when carrying heavy groceries home. I really need to be conscious of buying only what I can carry. It is not on the way home from work at all. The only way to get there is directly from my apt. I’m not lazy but sometimes a 25 minute walk in addition to spending the time at the store, just isn’t something I have time for.

It’s also not the best store. The prices in the POS system always ring up incorrectly, often times overcharging me. Then by the time I get home, I’m too tired to go back. It doesn’t seem worth it for fifty cents but over time this adds up. Also, the quality of produce and healthier foods are iffy. If I try to go when it’s not crowded, like later at night, the produce will be practically gone. Some of their prices are better than Fresh Direct, like dried cranberries for example. But last time I saw them there, they were covered in dust. Gross.

When it comes to buying something heavy, forget it. I have to make a special trip for flour, sugar, olive oil, or milk. There was also the terrible time that I bought a giant thing of olive oil, carried all my groceries home in the rain, then as I stepped out of the elevator onto my floor, the bag slipped and the glass olive oil bottle broke all over. That’s some non-glamorous nyc living.

To avoid all of these hassles, I’ve been trying out Fresh Direct. Fresh Direct is a grocery delivery service providing an entire grocery store online that is then delivered to you. The minimum order is $30 and the delivery charge is a flat $4.99. They provide delivery service to NYC & Westchester. As well as some parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Delaware.


Pros and Cons of Fresh Direct

Some downsides to Fresh Direct are the prices. This is mainly because there aren’t many generic equivalents. So you will be paying full price for cereal, condiments, bread, etc. For produce however, most items are cheaper or at least better quality. They do have regular weekly sales & coupons, so it’s useful to check each week.

Another downside is that while it is very convenient to be able to buy groceries at work then have them delivered to your apartment at a later time, you will have to wait at least 24-hours for your delivery. So you cannot use this service if you need something right this second. However, if you are simply planning ahead for the rest of the week, then you’re good to go.

One large advantage to online grocery shopping is being able to avoid impulse buys. This alone pretty much counters the sometimes higher prices & delivery charge. Pretty much every single time I go to the grocery store, I come home with more than I expected. Or the cost is more than I had planned on when checking out. Using Fresh Direct, you don’t run into impulse buys when wandering the aisles. And if you do end up getting “click-happy”, you have a chance to review your order before purchasing. Sometimes I’ll put together an order and let it sit in my shopping cart for a day. By the time I look at it again the next day, I’m probably no longer craving goat cheese and crackers.

Another huge advantage for me is not having to deal with the anxiety I get when grocery shopping at a physical store. I don’t have to deal with a crowded store, small aisles, rude people, or long check-out lines. The only human interaction is with the delivery person, and they have always been friendly.

The delivery process has been pretty smooth for me. There are usually delivery time slots open for the next day, depending on your schedule. Some time slots have discounts, mainly after 8pm. Fresh Direct tells you in your confirmation email about their tipping policy. You do not need to tip the delivery person. But they can accept tips. I would suggest tipping if you live in a fifth floor walk-up. Or if the delivery person goes out of their way for you.

Fresh Direct offers a service called Delivery Pass. For $12/month, you can get unlimited delivery charge. Normally, the delivery charge is $4.99. So if you get at least 3 deliveries a month, this will save you money. You can also schedule automatic repeat orders. I don’t need this yet but can see how it would be very useful for a family. You can use a two-month free trial of Delivery Pass for one penny. This is what I’ve been using as a try out of Fresh Direct in general. For free delivery for two months, this is definitely worth it.


Because of some of the higher costs associated with only being able to buy name-brand items, you are paying for convenience here. However, the cost will still be less than your in-store impulse buys. It is very convenient if you don’t need your items right away. It is also most convenient if you do not have a near-by quality grocery store.


9 Comments

  1. I often get my staples like olive oil through Amazon. I go to the TJ’s at Union Square which is a total madhouse, but I like their produce and their prices.

    • leslie beslie says:

      Trader Joe’s is definitely out of the way and anxiety inducing for me. But also, they just don’t carry a lot of things I buy. Very few base ingredients. Little to no baking supplies. I would always end up buying things I don’t usually buy like granola bars and cereal. I don’t eat ready-made/frozen meals, which I know they’re known for.

      I will check Amazon for Olive Oil, good tip! Every time I look up groceries on Amazon they’re usually much much higher than the market.

      • Jess says:

        I go to TJ’s for specific things, mostly frozen fruit (they have the cheapest prices by far of anywhere and I go through a lot with green smoothies), frozen veg, some produce items, tofu, sometimes nuts and baking stuff (they’ve beefed up the baking selection in recent years, fyi), whole wheat pasta and bread, occasionally some boxed or canned soups and maybe a couple of other things. I rarely pick up a frozen dinner or other junky food so it is possible to avoid those. Also, I prefer the Court St location. It’s still busy but not nearly as insane as Union Square. That being said, without the frozen fruit, I don’t think I’d bother with it very often (and still only go every couple of months).

  2. Frugal(er) says:

    Can’t you get one of those groovy grocery carts that you wheel home? http://www.amazon.com/Whitmor-6307-1729-BLK-Rolling-Utility-Black/dp/B001DZ4RGE/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1398180593&sr=8-9&keywords=grocery+cart
    I love seeing people with those and may try to borrow my neighbor’s this summer…

    • leslie beslie says:

      I should! Mentally I make excuses like “then I have to bring that into the store” and “then I have to store it in a closet at home.” It probably would be a lot easier for the heavy stuff though.

  3. Rachel says:

    There is a boycott of Fresh Direct since they are seeking like $200 million in cash from the government and would pollute the South Bronx for our convenience, I used to use them until I saw a presentation at my Temple social justice committee, look at southbronxunite.com and you will never use them again

    • leslie beslie says:

      Yes, I had just heard of this actually. I don’t know. I’m currently not shopping at my best & closest market because they refused to pay their employees. I’m sticking with that although the alternative is clearly not easy. In the end, I suppose I just need to suck it up and walk to the farther away store on Friday nights when it’ll be empty.

  4. Ellen Schultz says:

    Why not shop at Fairway in Brooklyn? And if price is no object check out http://www.goodeggs.com
    It’s a bit pricey, but it’s a bit like a farmer’s market with delivery.

    • leslie beslie says:

      I haven’t heard of goodeggs! Will look into that and maybe try it out. Fairway isn’t anywhere near me and requires a bus/train ride. I might go every now and then to get a better selection but not regularly. I don’t really like grocery shopping! So it’s hard to talk myself into going out of my way for it.

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