Grocery

10 FreshDirect Groceries Our Senior Editor Swears By

We're not just talking flour, butter, and eggs here. We're talking the special products to order from FreshDirect because, well, they're just better there.

by:
February 19, 2020
Photo by James Ransom

Allow me to start off by saying how much I love grocery shopping: sniffing my own lemons, hand-picking my own avocados, and asking Jeffrey my butcher for this ribeye and not that one. But doing so in New York City—and because I have to shop for food nearly every day as part of my job—has meant that making use of delivery services, like FreshDirect, has been imperative to my wellbeing.

Even our food stylist, Anna Billingskog, relies on the many conveniences of grocery delivery once in a while in her own life. “I get my heavy things from FreshDirect—staples like olive oil, flour, sugar, and salt,” she tells me. “For someone who lives in New York City, paper products are helpful to order, too, so you don’t have to lug them up five flights of narrow stairs every week.”

“The wine situation isn’t bad either,” chimes in our prop stylist, Amanda Widis.

Of course, there's a price for that convenience: a $30 minimum and a $5.99 delivery fee, plus you need to place your order a day in advance. Still, if you live in a city where FreshDirect is readily available, there may be some very good (and delicious!) reasons to use it once in a while. And when you treat it not as the sole means of buying your groceries, but rather as just one of your sources for the simple pleasures in life (see especially #5 and #10), you may be in for a real treat.

Here’s what I like to order:

1. Kim Chee Pride Kimchi

I don’t know if it’s because I live close to New Jersey or because this is the brand FreshDirect sells, but this is my favorite jar of store-bought kimchi in the world. I order at least one a week now, and I appreciate that they come in small glass jars that I can wash and use again forever. Don’t tell my other love, H Mart kimchi, but it tastes way better than her (and it’s significantly cheaper). There’s something about the flavors in this one, too, that taste like my mom’s recipe: reliant on actual ingredients and natural fermentation for flavor rather than an overdose of salt and sugar like most store-bought versions.

Photo by FreshDirect

2. Hass Avocados, Ready-to-Eat (2-Pack)

These are a little pricier than the regular avocados, but I appreciate not having to wait for them to ripen before I’m slicing and dicing away toward a guacamole. The second they arrive at my door, they’re, well, ready to eat.

3. Just FreshDirect Organic Roasted Seaweed Snack, Sea Salt

I feel like a broken record when I talk about this stuff, but FreshDirect makes their own brand of roasted seaweed snack, with a couple of flavors to choose from. I buy the sea salt flavor because, as you may have noticed by now, I use this Korean pantry staple as an ingredient in my cooking and not just as a late-night snack. It's wonderful, for instance, crushed into creamy grits.

Photo by FreshDirect

4. Nasoya Organic Silken Tofu

For any last dregs of kimchi (and kimchi juice!) I have lying around, I like to make a spicy kimchi stew packed with onions, Spam, and this silken tofu. It’s a quick way to add a whole lot of protein to what’s normally just a leftovers meal.

5. Wild Madagascar Super Colossal Shrimp

Hear me out when I say that ordering seafood via FreshDirect is not as weird as it sounds: It always comes to my door super cold and fresh, and these giant Madagascar shrimp are a real treat. I love that you don’t buy them by the pound or by the count, but one at a time (they’re that big). I love slapping these onto a sheet pan, dressing them simply with olive oil, salt and pepper, then roasting them at 400°F for 10 or so minutes. It's the best pre-dinner snack—here’s a photo for reference:

6. Wild Alaskan Black Cod Fillet

One tip for choosing fish on FreshDirect: Pay attention to the sustainability rating (I only buy when it’s green) and, of course, the daily quality rating. On occasion I like to buy a fillet of black cod as a real solitary treat for myself: I marinate it very simply in a mixture of white miso and mirin and roast it at—you guessed it—400°F until cooked through, about 20 to 25 minutes. Miso black cod is buttery perfection, and exactly what you want to eat when it’s just you for dinner.

7. Empire Kosher White Ground Turkey

My dog likes ground turkey, so I like to buy a bunch of these and store them in my freezer. I boil them in water, save the broth for later, and feed her the meat a few times a week in between her regular dry food.

Photo by FreshDirect

8. Ravello Fresh Egg Linguine

This particular brand of fresh pasta is so chewy and delicious—the best I’ve had. After a quick boil, it somehow maintains its structure and texture, unlike other fresh pastas which seem always to get slimy and mushy lickety-split. I highly recommend it with this braised onion sauce that went viral on our site a couple months ago.

9. Jacquet French Brioche Loaf

Disclaimer: It looks like this product is currently unavailable. This happens sometimes when you're shopping for popular items on FreshDirect. But the day it does become available in your area, I advise that you do try a loaf. Is it as good as a freshly made bakery brioche? Maybe not. But for bagged bread, it has incredible flavor and tastes wonderful toasted or made into French toast.

Photo by FreshDirect

10. Au Bon Climat Chardonnay Santa Barbara

As Amanda said above, FreshDirect's wine selection is ... kind of fance! For years I would traverse New York City's wine stores in search of this particular bottle of Chardonnay, and my life was forever changed once FreshDirect started selling it. You can also find Stag's Leap, Layer Cake, and other well-priced, quality wines like that.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“Nothing I can buy locally has the depth of flavor that I could find in Korea, and when I don’t make my own, theirs has become my go to. Also, is there an Amazon purchasable Korean red pepper flakes that you recommend? The last time I ordered some, I ended up with a product from China, and it just didn’t taste right, the flavor wasn’t as robust. Thanks, -S”
— Shane L.
Comment

Do you use FreshDirect? Let us know in the comments below.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post, but Food52 sometimes earns an affiliate commission on the sales of products we link to. These products are independently selected by our editors and writers, and are only featured when we genuinely love them and want to share them.

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Eric Kim is a contributing writer at Food52, where he writes the solo dining column, Table for One. Formerly the managing editor at Food Network and a PhD candidate in literature at Columbia University, he covers food, travel, and culture and lives in a tiny shoebox in Manhattan with his dog, Quentin "Q" Compson. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can follow him on Twitter @ericjoonho.

18 Comments

Susanna March 1, 2020
Eric, i don’t order from FD often, but you have made me want to try those Madagascar shrimp, as pricey as they are! I assume you eat the head (or the juices therein, at least) and all?
 
Patricia E. March 1, 2020
There are other reasons for buying groceries and staples online. In my old age, my husband and I have become handicapped and lugging home products is a LOT more difficult now. We retired to and live in a small Arizona town so sometimes the special products we want to try are not available here. We do shop locally for perishables and did enjoy our farmers markets but with age that has become difficult too. The real reason I am writing is the ground turkey for your dog. We have always had a dog or plural dogs, many different breeds and sizes and loved them all. The last group starting about 1999/2000 was a herd (4) of Chihuahuas. During their life times we experienced the scare of dangerous dog food ingredients imported from China. At that time I started cooking their food for them using a recipe found online for homemade dog food. These four sweethearts all thrived on this diet and each lived into their teens. Needless to say when we lost the last we adopted (a rescue) another and she eats the same diet twice a day (but I do provide small amounts of a very good dry food for her to additionally clean her teeth). The ingredients I use are ground turkey,green beans white rice, the ground turkey being the largest amount and the green beans and rice added in smaller amounts. (When I first started I used brown rice but changed to the white rice). What caught my attention with your post was you boil the turkey and save the broth. I have always pan fried the turkey and then put both the fried turkey and green beans(Frozen french cut) in my food processor, added the cooked rice to the fry pan juices plus the mix from the processor. I keep this in a container in my refrigerator and feed our little girl 2 times a day from this. (One of our rescue cats always seems to know when I am cooking this and comes for a handout too.) I think your idea of boiling the turkey(or were you using chicken?) is time saving and would also provided more broth to add to the cooked rice or even cook the rice in and I don't like scrubbing that fry pan out. So I am sure this post is way more information than you ever wanted but remember, I warned you, I am an OLD lady and appreciated your hint. Always enjoy Food52
 
Jane March 1, 2020
It's been a challenge, but for the last six months the goal of my household has been to buy locally grown whenever possible and to reduce the amount of plastic packaging for all goods we purchase. With reusable bags in hand we have sought out bakeries, butcher shops and farmer's markets that are good, sometimes great sources of local foods. I know my family is very late to enter this kind of consumer awareness, but we are trying, and feeling good about it. It's a learning process that does take more time and planning, and sometimes we bend the rules, but it's something we are going to stick to.
 
Jill March 1, 2020
While I’m always interested in other cooks’ ideas and opinions, I’m a bit disappointed to see on Food 52 an article that implicitly advocates adding food miles to what we eat.
 
Janet G. March 1, 2020
I'm sorry to have to be the one to point this out but recommending that people buy things online instead of shopping locally isn't good for the planet or the neighborhood. If we are going to sustain a local supply of things we need then we NEED to shop locally. We have plenty of food items that are already shipped to us locally, we don't need to add to the carbon footprint by ordering MORE food online.
 
Author Comment
Eric K. March 1, 2020
HI Janet, I agree with you and appreciate your comment. This certainly shouldn't be anyone's main source of groceries.
 
Jane O. March 1, 2020
Avocados at $4.99 each are "a little pricier"? At least three times pricier! I don't think anyone wants to wait for avocados to ripen, and I so often miss the sweet spot. BUT--is your audience really folks who can pay 3X the going rate for the convenience of instant ripeness? Count me out.
 
Author Comment
Eric K. March 1, 2020
Hi Jane, just to clarify, it's a 2-pack for $4.99 (so about $2.50 per avocado). The national average for a regular Hass avocado is $2.10.
 
Jane O. March 1, 2020
Well, here in the MidWest aocados are 69 cents each at my grocery store; how does one find the national average for a piece of produce? But my point was that Food52 seems to be aiming more and more for the 1%, in both its content and products it advertises. even though I'm a New Yorker originally and like the snappy tone and sophisticated tips, maybe I'm just realizing, via this extreme article, that I'm not the audience you are aiming at,
 
Patricia March 2, 2020
Well, in Nebraska they are frequently $1.00 - no wonder there is such a divide between costal masses and midwestern population thinking -
 
abardales March 1, 2020
Hi Eric, thanks for these recommendations! Re: silken tofu, what is the difference between this and firm or extra firm tofu? Which is better for stir fry, for example? (And do you have suggestions for how to prep for stir fry?) THANK YOU!
 
Author Comment
Eric K. March 1, 2020
Hi! Silken tofu is very soft, almost custardy, and tastes lovely in soups and stews; some even use it as an egg substitute for baking. I would not use it for a stir-fry, though.

Extra-firm is probably the easiest to fry in a pan; it has less water and so is denser than firm and certainly silken tofus. But I personally prefer firm tofu for stir-fries, as it's tenderer and can absorb more flavors. Hope that helps!
 
tinybanquet February 19, 2020
"if you live in a city where FreshDirect is readily available"

You know this is literally just NYC, right?
 
Author Comment
Eric K. February 19, 2020
There's a list here: https://www.freshdirect.com/help/delivery_info.jsp

"New York: Brooklyn, The Bronx, Manhattan, Nassau, Queens, Rockland, Staten Island, Suffolk, Westchester
New Jersey: Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Union
Connecticut: Fairfield
Pennsylvania: Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Philadelphia
Delaware: New Castle
Washington, D.C.
Jersey Shore (summer only)
Hamptons (summer only)"
 
Patricia March 2, 2020
This proves the point of my other comment - FOOD 52 is aimed at costal states - there is a big country out there in between, but that is OK - could you recruit a food person from fly-over country to write an article or two?
 
Author Comment
Eric K. March 2, 2020
Patricia, I think that's a great idea and helpful feedback. On it!
 
Shane L. February 18, 2020
Eric, have you ever tasted Mother in Law’s kimchi? Nothing I can buy locally has the depth of flavor that I could find in Korea, and when I don’t make my own, theirs has become my go to.
Also, is there an Amazon purchasable Korean red pepper flakes that you recommend? The last time I ordered some, I ended up with a product from China, and it just didn’t taste right, the flavor wasn’t as robust.
Thanks,
-S
 
Author Comment
Eric K. February 19, 2020
I have! And many of my friends love that brand, though it's not my favorite. Let me find out about the gochugaru; I'll admit I don't know much about the specific brands.