A trip to the grocery store is one of the few essential errands that is still allowed at a time when millions of Americans have been ordered to stay inside to slow the spread of COVID-19.
But whether due to age, illness, or nervousness about contracting the virus, plenty of folks would rather not go.
Services like Door Dash are continuing to drop off meals at customers’ front doors. And grocery delivery platform Instacart is hiring 300,000 more workers to meet the increased demand for its service. But there are other options available to those who most need, or want, to stay hunkered down at home.
Local farms and sellers are delivering fresh vegetables and fruits. Some restaurants, closed to dine-in business, are offering mega-sized portions that can feed the whole family. And meal kit providers, a convenience to subscribers before the pandemic, are now a potential lifeline.
Here’s a sampling of what you can do to fill your refrigerator and pantry without leaving home.
Misfits could fit the bill
Misfits Market sells misshapen veggies and fruits that are typically rejected by supermarket shoppers drawn to the prettiest produce. The company will deliver the organic items to your front door for up to 40% less than what it would cost you at the store.
Its largest box, weighing roughly 18 to 22 pounds, should be able to serve a family of five for a week, according to its website. It costs $35 for vegetables and fruits that would set you back $65 at the supermarket.
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If you’re a new customer, however, you’ll need to be patient. As of Monday, the Misfits site said shipments are delayed up to three weeks. Even some long-time customers are getting their boxes one to two days later than normal.
“We’re doing our best to meet the needs of people in our delivery area who lack access to fresh food in these uncertain times,” the site says. “To even out production and protect the well being of our staff, we’re limiting the number of new boxes we can ship each week.”
Meal kit services are open for business
Meal kit service Sun Basket has seen a spike in orders since the coronavirus outbreak began, says its CEO Don Barnett.
“Our business has doubled within the past few weeks,” he says. “Not only are we adding new customers, but many of our current customers have increased both their order frequency and the number of meals and add-on items to their usual orders. With fewer people leaving their homes and avoiding grocery stores, we are doing everything we can … to accommodate.”
To make sure meals get to customers on time, the company has pared back its menu and shifted some delivery days. Orders are not currently experiencing any delays, Barnett says.
The meals, which include organic fruits and vegetables, wild-caught seafood, and meats without antibiotics and hormones, start at $11.99 per serving, for two servings each of 3 recipes per week.
Meal kit company Blue Apron is also continuing to accept customers despite increased demand during the pandemic.
“We are doing our best to avoid any delivery delays,” the company said in an emailed statement. “If we expect a delivery delay for any subset of customers, we are proactively notifying them.”
Options include a choice of two dishes that can serve a family of four for a week for the cost of roughly $72.
Restaurants offer deals as well as delivery
Some restaurants are offering budget-friendly discounts as well as larger sized options to feed families clustered at home.
Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque is offering 15% off all orders, whether they deliver it or customers pick up from one of the chain’s locations. It also has a promotion for a meal that can feed a family of four.
“Let’s say you select brisket and chicken,” says Micha Magid, Mighty Quinn’s co-founder and co-CEO. “You’ll get 1 pound of slow-smoked brisket and a whole chicken served with two quarts of sides, pickles, slaw, rolls and sauce. It’s a great deal for under $16 (per) person.”
A new kind of farm to table
Local farms and eateries are starting up services that enable customers to reserve boxes of food, then come pick them up.
While you need to leave the house to get your items, some customers might still prefer that option over trying to maintain a safe distance from other shoppers in a crowded grocery store.
McClendon’s Select, a 93-acre organic farm in Arizona was serving dozens of restaurants before the outbreak of COVID-19. But “that business just evaporated,” says CEO Bob McClendon. “So now we’re doing this grab and go program to try to survive through this.”
The program has pick-up locations in the Phoenix area, as well as Peoria and Scottsdale. And it can barely keep up with the demand.
“We’re maxed out right now,” he says, “which is a wonderful thing for us.”
Follow Charisse Jones on Twitter @charissejones