Everything You Need To Know About Imperfect Foods Delivery Service

Hey, what do you all think of buying a box of groceries that openly calls itself, um, less-than-the best?

Here’s where I stand: Even in a time when shopping in-person can be Stressful with a capital S, I’m a picky shopper. So when I was asked to review the flexible grocery subscription service Imperfect Foods, yeah…I waffled.

But in the name of journalism, I dug a little deeper, and managed to convince the perfectionist food buyer within me to chill. Turns out, most grocery stores turn away perfectly good food for silly reasons: A potato has a weird shape, a box of pasta has a few broken pieces, a bottle of olive oil is set to expire in three months instead of, like, 12. It’s totally edible, but it ends up as waste.

Imperfect Foods is all about diverting these supermarket beauty pageant rejects from landfills and offering them to shoppers at great prices, brought right to your doorstep once a week. In other words, their goal is making it simple—and convenient—to eat well while supporting sustainability. Eager to see if was all as good as it sounded, I signed up.

The Sign Up

Getting set up in Imperfect’s subscriber pipeline was fast and seamless. I answered a few questions about my family’s grocery needs—like how many people I’m feeding (the max option is 5+), our eating habits and dietary restrictions (low-carb, vegetarian, or vegan), and whether I prefer organic produce. For myself, my husband, and my toddler son (all big produce eaters), Imperfect Foods recommended their 11 to 13-pound regular produce box.

There was also the option to add on a weekly snack pack, dairy pack, meat and seafood pack, or grains pack. I skipped those, deciding instead to customize my delivery to what I needed that week. That meant removing a few of the items Imperfect had put in my cart that I didn’t need (or knew my toddler wouldn’t eat) and adding others, a pack of frozen shrimp, pre-cut mango, fresh dates, and upcycled chocolate chip cookies made with okara—soybean pulp that’s a byproduct of tofu and soymilk production. (Seriously, how could you say no to trying those?)

But if you feel like being hands-off (or are ready to take variety anywhere you can get it right now) Imperfect will put together a selection of food for your delivery based on your subscription preferences.

The Delivery

I set up my subscription on a Wednesday, and Imperfect Foods told me to expect my box the next Tuesday—the day that deliveries happened in my area. The bummer? They said my delivery window would be between 7am and 9pm. Even though I’m home, um, a lot these days, that was kind of annoying. Luckily my food ended up arriving around 11:30 AM this time, though I’m not sure how the crazy-wide delivery window or actual drop-off time would work if I worked outside of the house…or was living a normal life?

For life right now though, it was fine. The delivery person dropped the boxes on my doorstep, gave a knock, and waited until I waved to him from the window before leaving. Then I brought my two boxes inside. There was minimal packaging other than an ice pack to keep the shrimp cold—which I really appreciated. It was nice not having to spend 20 minutes unwrapping food items and generating a trash bag’s worth of plastic!

The downside of zero Styrofoam and bubble wrap was that a few of my items seemed to suffer from some in-transit jostling. One of my bell peppers had a small nick and a few of the apples had bruises. Or maybe those were just their imperfections? It was hard to tell.

The Food

Imperfect says they offer foods with cosmetic imperfections, foods from excess inventory, and “short-coded” items where the expiration date is nearing. But looking at my haul, there wasn’t much difference between what they sent and what I’d normally get from my local stores. It all looked fresh and tasty.

One of my carrots was a little bent. The skin on a few of the sweet potatoes was a little roughed up. And the frozen shrimp was supposed to be used within 1-2 days once thawed. But none of this was a big deal, and there was zero effect on the taste. (And in what scenario would you not use fresh or thawed shrimp within a day or two of buying?!) The organic cheese sticks I got for my son had an expiration date of March 2021—but considering there were like 8 in the package, I think he’ll manage to get through them.

As for those upcycled chocolate chip cookies? Seriously, delicious. My husband and I crumbled a few over ice cream and packed the rest in the freezer so we wouldn’t be tempted to devour the whole container at once.

The Overall Verdict

Using Imperfect is basically how I wish ordering groceries online from my local store would be: Ordering is easy and fast, I can get what I’m looking for, and delivery is free. Plus, knowing I’m playing a (teeny, tiny) part in fighting our food waste problem makes me feel good.

The only real downside is that huge delivery window, which worked out alright this time, but I could see becoming a thing if my food was always showing up at 9:00 at night. Unless the reward for unpacking groceries before bed was a few of those cookies. That would be pretty perfect.

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