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.”
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.