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Here I'll talk about Misfits Market, a grocery delivery service which helps cut food waste and delivers to almost all US zip codes - yes, even if you live in an area where there's nothing for miles.
I'll cover both the pros and cons of Misfits Market. First, a bit about how it works and how it cuts down on food waste while saving you money and time.
What happens to produce that doesn't meet the superficial appearance standards of the supermarket?
Yes, you guessed it - Misfits Market works directly with farmers to buy their perfectly good and tasty fruit and vegetables which just look a bit non-standard (an example pic is shown below). Supermarkets don't really want to buy these items from the farmer because the item just looks a bit odd, so customers wouldn't put them in their carts. This works to your advantage because Misfits Market gets hold of them from the farmer before the items sit around somewhere for too long. Then Misfits Market sells them on to you, passing along the savings. The farmers will sell their oddly shaped produce at a cheaper price point since they know it won't fetch high supermarket prices.
These fruit and vegetables don't have the chance to be over-ripe, because they're not the leftover produce from the supermarket. These items come directly from farmers before they have a chance to get over-ripe, so you're always getting fresh items that allow you time to use them.
You can see that in addition to saving you money, Misfits Market also helps cut down on the problem of food waste, adding to sustainability. There is nothing wrong with this produce besides how it looks, so it's so much more sustainable and responsible to use it, instead of the farmer throwing it out. Cutting the food waste cycle is not only eco-friendly but also saves you money.
Above is an example of oddly shaped produce, but in many cases the differences in Misfits Market items are less noticeable, for example smaller sized nectarines instead of the large ones you're accustomed to seeing in the store. Most of the Misfits Market produce is organic - items are clearly labeled in the Misfits Market shopping platform so you'll know which items are organic and which are not.
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Regular pantry items are available too, as are meat, fish, and more
It would be pretty limiting if all you could get at Misfits Market was fruits and vegetables, but fortunately you can get all the same types of items as you would on your normal grocery shop. Misfits Market stocks pantry items, including snacks, as well as dairy, meat, fish and so much more. You'll have less choice of brands than you would in your regular grocery store, but you can get the items you need.
How it works if you sign up for Misfits Market
It's important to note that by default, Misfits Market is a subscription-based weekly grocery delivery service, although you have the option to skip weeks if you don't want to receive an order then.
Alternatively, you can change the settings to cancel the subscription altogether and instead buy on an as-needed basis. There are less perks associated with buying as-needed. They really steer you towards the recurring subscription service - this is a bit annoying and you'll see me discuss it in the pros and cons a little further along.
How the subscription service works
Once you sign up, they tell your default weekly ship date (e.g. Wednesdays) - it comes down to when their delivery logistics will service your area. It's important to note that I'm not in a major area so it's possible you get more of a choice of weekly ship day in large metropolitan areas, but I'm not sure.
Anyway, you go to your dashboard and pick whether you want just produce or other items as well (e.g. pantry, meat or fish, snacks, dairy). You can choose to add or not add each of those sections. The more categories you add, the more it will cost since you're going to be receiving more items in your weekly delivery. You also need to choose if you're shopping for a household of 1-2, 3 or 4 people - and again, the more people you're shopping for, the more expensive it is because they'll send larger quantities in your weekly box. If you have a household of 2 young kids who don't eat all that much, plus yourself and your spouse, you might want to say you're a 3 person house since the kids won't eat as much as 4 adults would.
Then Misfits Market will choose items for you each week and deliver them to you. You do have some control over this: you have a window of time (typically a few days) where you can add or remove items from your cart to adjust it to your needs. Then the order is shipped. If you take no action during your shopping window, the default order that Misfits Market chose for you will be shipped. Over time, Misfits Market will figure out the things you like to buy. You're able to set up notifications so that you know what your deadlines are. You can find out more at the Misfits Market - FAQs.
Pros and cons of Misfits Market
- Convenient and saves you time - no need to have the hassle of packing the kids up to drive them to the grocery store. Instead, groceries arrive at your door each week. Easy!
- Saves you money - particularly on organic fresh produce, you can save quite a bit of money.
- Fight food waste - you have the satisfaction of breaking the food waste cycle.
- You can opt to skip deliveries if you wish, you don't have to receive groceries each and every week.
- If you don't like subscriptions and want shop casually as needed, you can easily do that by canceling your subscription plan online. This allows you to shop a la carte whenever needed.
- You wind up yielding a lot of control to Misfits Market about when you start. The minute you sign up, it's made clear that you'll be paying for and receiving grocery deliveries soon unless you opt to cancel your plan. It's easy to cancel your plan online at any time. But for parents and other busy people I would prefer it if they had something like a "Start" button for new users where your orders are paused until you actively hit the "Start" button for the first time. Basically, it would be better if they didn't steer you so strongly into a subscription from the moment you create an account with them.
- You also yield a lot of control over exactly what is in your cart. They choose what goes in your shopping cart, and although you can certainly change the items during your shopping window, you might forget to do that. On the one hand, their choices are an advantage if you simply want to not run out of food and use whatever is in season that they want to send you - it means you get to outsource the work of list-making and the grocery-getting. For those living far from a grocery store, that might be very useful. But the downside of this is that if you have a particular meal plan you're doing, you might receive items that aren't compatible with what you planned on cooking, unless you remembered to change the items during your shopping window.
- They might not stock your favorite brands of pantry items. Misfits Market will stock certain brands and not others. So if you want to get specific brands, Misfits Market is not the best choice for you.
- You might not save as much money as you think if you were not previously buying organic. Most of the Misfits Market produce is organic, and although it's very affordable for organic items, it may not automatically work out cheaper than non-organic produce at your local store.
It's refreshing to see a sustainable grocery delivery service which delivers to almost all zip codes in the continental US. I'm tired of seeing services that only deliver to LA and NYC! There are so many more of us who live outside a major metropolitan area, after all.
Misfits Market saves you time, money and cuts food waste, so it seems like a win-win. That said, it's not without its downsides, in particular the amount of control they have over your weekly grocery order. Yes, you can change it during your shopping window, but coupled with the strong way they steer you into a subscription, it can seem a bit annoying.
Who should use Misfits Market?
The families who will benefit most from Misfits Market are those who are getting frustrated at doing grocery trips themselves. Example: if you live far from a grocery store therefore the round trip takes awhile, or you have small kids in tow, or you don't have reliable transportation. You'd also need to be prepared to be flexible about what you cook each week.
Who should not use Misfits Market?
It's not the best choice for families on a particular meal plan or who only want to buy certain brands - you'd find yourself constantly adjusting your cart each week during your shopping window. This might not save you as much time as you had wanted, compared to shopping your local grocery store.
The option which benefits most families
Families who don't want to do their entire grocery shop with Misfits Market may like to take advantage of just the produce plan - this is the default when you sign up anyway, it's just fruits and veges but no pantry items etc. This means that you always wind up with fresh produce coming to your door. I've found that vegetables in most recipes can happily tolerate substitutions with other vegetables, so even if you're on a meal plan it can work out well. Likewise, having fresh fruit show up weekly means you always have healthy snacks to offer your kids without having to think about it. It solves the problem of running out of fresh foods.