Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Delivery: Everything Straight to your Door in Boston

Over the last few weeks we dedicated a significant amount of time thinking, researching and writing about not owning a car. One of the questions we frequently answer about our life downtown is related: “Where do you buy groceries and how do you get there?” As shopping is much more encompassing than food, and healthful food is the topic of hundreds of books, rather than cram this all into one discussion, I will break it down into multiple pieces. Today we will start with the topic of home delivery – a crucial component of the “where” we shop in the city and “how” we often don’t actually get there.

Before delving into the four delivery trends we find most useful and time saving, we must mention that we live in a building with concierge service which makes home delivery an easy and viable option. Alternately, deliveries may be scheduled to a place of work or for Saturdays.

1. Healthy Food Delivery

Given our concern about pesticides, antibiotics, hormones and other potentially harmful substances in the food we eat, we will mention only options providing organic or locally sourced food.

Grocery Stores - Whole Foods, unlike Stop & Shop’s Peapod, does not allow you to order online, however, you can pick your groceries out in the store and have them delivered to your home. Each Whole Foods has their own rules and restrictions so please see your local Whole Foods website for information. If you prefer not to go to the store or live outside the delivery zone, newcomer Instacart will do your shopping at Whole Foods and deliver to your door.[1]

For South Boston residents Foodie’s in South Boston will also deliver you to the store and you and your groceries back home for free via the South Boston Shuttle.

Local Food Services - The economies of scale of the city allows for other more localized delivery services as well. Something Gud, “the farmers market, delivered”, brings local, organic food from cheese to bread to produce to your door that you can preorder online. Boston Organics delivers “fresh organic produce to your door”. Unlike Something Gud, Boston Organics does not allow you to select what you will receive but rather like a traditional farm share (i.e., CSA) you receive a mix of fruits and/or vegetables each week. Valley Green Feast is similar to Boston Organics though their focus is more on local ingredients than organic. We were also excited to just learn about Farmers To You which links farmers in Vermont with buyers in the Boston area and will deliver meat, dairy, produce and pantry goods to your home or office if you can't get to a pickup location. Walden Local Meat Co. also offers home delivery of locally sourced and healthfully raised meat to virtually all locations within route 128. Tasterie is a unique service delivering foods that cater to food intolerances and allergies (e.g., gluten-free, egg-free, etc.). Vegan or vegetarian? Check out Kombu Kitchen.[2]

Prepared FoodsCuisine en Locale provides a “meal CSA” with premade healthy meals sourced from local ingredients. The Foodery Boston uses 100% organic produce and provides a similar service. Like to cook but don't have time for shopping and preparing? Just Add Cooking will deliver a box of healthful recipes and organic ingredients each week. Healthy Habits Kitchen locally sources ingredients for their meal kits.

Update 1/29: We just learned via a Boston Globe article that since our daughter was born a number of locally prepared baby food services have cropped up as well and we are looking forward to trying them out when our new little one starts solids. Lil Foodie Boston or Purely Pears will likely be our first pick with their organic prepared baby foods. Loveage Babyblends located in the South End looks promising.

Lastly, three major players organize the delivery of restaurant based food including many organic/healthy providers (i.e., The Golden Temple for Chinese and Cafeteria Boston for great burgers); Foodler, DiningIn and GrubHub.[3]

BonusFor those of you who believe a glass of red wine a day is an important part of a healthy diet you can even alcohol home delivered via Drizly, at least for now.[4] Alcohol not your treat of choice? Dessert Drop currently delivers goodies in five Boston zip codes and is planning to expand.

2. Amazon Prime / Amazon Mom

When expecting our first child, we frantically prepared to make sure we had everything we needed before she was born to avoid shopping during those first postpartum weeks. Had we known then what I know now about Amazon Mom and Amazon Prime, we would not have worried. With our Amazon Prime/Mom membership we have free two-day shipping on almost anything we could ever need. For an additional $3.99 most products can be received overnight. Due to our location in the city, deliveries often arrive faster than promised and we end up receiving even our two-day orders overnight. We pay $79 annually for membership and receive sufficient deliveries to make up this cost and then some. Notably Amazon offers plenty of organic and healthy living products (e.g., Seventh Generation, Baby Bambino, etc.).

Other relevant sites for fast delivery of family products include which is owned by Amazon and has a healthy living branch, or newer (locally-based) competitor for household items[5]

3. Expansion of Online Shopping

Online shopping in general, though not a novel or uniquely urban idea also makes urban living significantly easier. H&M which seemed to be the last hold-out of retail stores without an online option finally created an online store in 2013. Most companies offer free shipping once a certain amount of money from $50 -150 is spent, or with a coupon code. Most companies also allow free returns in store.

Additionally, a middle-man online discount site market has cropped up. Some personal favorites include: Ruelala (locally-based)[4], Gilt, HauteLook, MyHabit and ideeli for clothing; One Kings Lane and Joss & Main for home goods; and Zulily for all things children and families.

4. Errand Services

Among the many perks of living in a concierge building is dry-cleaning pick-ups and drop-offs at your door. Our preferred cleaner is Clever Green which takes keeping toxins off your clothes (and thus your skin and your kids’ skin) seriously. Another example of concierge utility is furniture delivery. If we buy a new mattress and they schedule delivery between 10a.m. and 1p.m. on Monday, no one needs to stay home waiting as our concierge will take care of it for us.

Lastly, urban errand services have cropped up in recent years for the busy professional who wishes they had a personal non-office assistant. Via crowd sourcing, TaskRabbit will “outsource household errands and skilled tasks” from curtain-making to mailing a letter.

Although all these services make it possible to outsource virtually all of one's errands, we personally find running errands to be an important part of educating our toddler. If we did not shop ourselves we wouldn’t run into our neighbors including Governor Patrick, (yes, that happened), at the grocery store either. Selecting produce or items and processing a payment is an important tangible experience. However, in a world with limited time, we appreciate the multitude of services available in the city when we need them. These services are an important part of the where and how we shop.

Have we missed anything? Aside from the Foodies/South Boston Shuttle partnership what other neighborhood specific delivery options exist? Please comment below to add other good Boston delivery options for the reference of others.

[1] I have not yet tried Instacart for Whole Foods delivery, however recently The Boston Globe posted this article about the new start-up. 
[2] 2014 pricing information for select providers via Boston Magazine, Roundup: Fresh Food Delivery Services.
[3] Users on Chowhound recommend Foodler for its user interface and rewards program.
[4] See Boston Globe article, "Alcohol delivery services offer convenience, but state law murky."
[5] Even mail delivery can support local employment. See Boston Globe article Online Retail, Real-Time Jobs in Boston.


  1. I sure wish we had delivery services like this around here! I suppose that's what I get for living in a small town. On the other hand I can leave my doors unlocked without worry, so I guess it has its ups and downs ;)

    Sarah |


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