It's definitely not your imagination: Your groceries are getting a lot more expensive. According to Consumer Price Index (CPI) data from February, the prices of food increased by 8.6 percent (and 1.4 percent from January alone), with protein seeing the biggest price hike. Beef went up in price by 16.2 percent over the past year, while poultry, fish, and eggs increased by 13 percent. And with the war in Ukraine globally impacting the price tag of gas (aka, how all of this food gets transported to your local market), it's likely our wallets won't see much relief any time soon.
So...what exactly can you do about it? Using coupons, taking advantage of sales, and shopping generic are a few ways to save some cash, but another option is looking into alternative grocery services like Misfits Market, a grocery delivery service on a mission to make shopping for high-quality, healthy food accessible and affordable (up to 40 percent less expensive than traditional grocery store prices).
The platform works closely with farmers and retailers to rescue produce that may not be "attractive" enough to make it to the grocery store, along with curating proteins and pantry goods that come from excess inventory (and would otherwise be thrown out). Misfits Markets also sells goods with short-dated stamps—this just means these products have "best by" dates that are fewer than six weeks out—that may not work for traditional grocery stores (but works for a platform like Misfits Market, whose inventory changes on a daily basis, based on what's available or in-season).
Smarting from my last grocery store receipt, I decided to try out Misfits Market myself. I wanted to see if the platform would: 1. help me save money on groceries, 2. introduce me to new brands, and 3. save me precious time grocery shopping. Here's how it went.
How Misfits Market works
Unlike traditional grocery delivery services like Instacart, the Misfits Market digital aisles change all the time, so what you ordered last week may not be available this week. You have all the staple "aisles" to choose from, like fruits, vegetables, meat and seafood, deli, pantry items, beverages, pet goods, and more. You can browse through each section, and add items to your cart. And you have to order by a certain date in order to get your box delivered by your preferred delivery day (for instance, Misfits is telling me that in order to get my next box April 3, I need to get my order in by March 29).
The membership is totally free (no annual membership fees—phewf), you just need to make sure to order a minimum of $30 total (and if you're ordering anything that needs to be shipped in a cold pack, like meat or dairy, you need to order a minimum of $30 from the "cold pack" section). You're charged a flat shipping fee that starts at $7, but you also don't have to worry about tipping. And as for pausing or canceling the service: You can do either at any point. Just make sure to select the option before your next box is being put together, and you can start it up again whenever you like.
I found the whole process to be pretty easy, and while Misfits doesn't have everything, I still found a lot of the staples I needed to make my meals for the week.
What was in my order
Freak Flag Organics Kale Cheddar Mac 'n Cheese, $1.99
Hofseth Atlantic Salmon Tails, $6.99
Norr Organic Vanilla and Cardamom Skyr Yogurt (4-pack), $8
Phil's Finest Chicken Sausage, Kale Chimichurri, $5.50
Phil's Finest Lao Curry-Style Grass-Fed Ground Beef, $7.50
Roth Cheese, Organic Sharp Cheddar, $4
Tate's Bake Shop Butter Crunch Cookies, $5
Organic D'Anjou Pears (4-Count), $4
Total: $50 (with shipping)
Overall, I would say my Misfits Market bill was comparable to what I would spend at Trader Joe's. The prices are definitely lower than tradition grocery stores (as are TJ's), and every single product that arrived was super high-quality and fresh. Everything was at peak ripeness, there were no substitutes, and everything looked exactly like how it was advertised on Misfits. Certain products, like the salmon, sausage, speciality mac 'n cheese, and pears were notably cheaper than what I would have paid at Whole Foods.
The coolest aspect, at least to me, was that I got to try new things that aren't in my local grocery stores. As a big-time yogurt lover, I've never tried vanilla and cardamom yogurt, nor have I had citrus kale chicken sausage with chimichurri seasoning. I also got to stock up on my staples, like cheese and Tate's cookies. The above photo of food doesn't look like a lot, but 1. it's just me and my husband, 2. we already had staples like milk, eggs, beverages, and bread, and 3. it's all great-quality stuff. Plus, ordering online was simple and saved me at least an hour of physically shopping at the store. Grocery shopping I can do in my pajamas = major win.
I will say, I'm lucky to live near a couple Trader Joe's locations and other markets that sell a wide variety of healthy foods, but I know that's not always the case for some. Misfits isn't available in every city just yet (but it's around in most!), so make sure to check and see if they're available where you live. The company's biggest goal is to be available for everyone in the U.S. and help combat the large number of food-insecure households.
Like I said before, there isn't the widest variety. I needed leeks for a soup I wanted to make, and unfortunately, I couldn't find any. A lot of bigger-name brands like General Mills or Doritos aren't normally available (and if they are, the products are generally lesser known). Timing is also not the most flexible: I can't order groceries to be delivered in the next couple hours, or even the next few days—so it does require some planning. Also, there isn't a search feature—so if you want to search for "carrots," you have to actually scroll through all the veggies to find them.
Misfits is definitely going to be in my grocery delivering rotation when I want to save money, discover new food, and save on time. Who knew you could get boxed kale cheddar mac 'n cheese?! If you're curious about Misfits, click here to find out more.
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