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Grocery shopping is a prime part of my job as a recipe developer, so I spend more time than most in the aisles choosing ingredients. Some weeks I expect the store manager to come ask for my portion of the rent. Spooked by early reports about holiday turkey and ham shortages, I decided to order my holiday meats way ahead of schedule from Thrive Market. They have an expansive selection of frozen proteins and I was curious how they would stack up against my usual in-person picks.
First, allow me to back up for a second. If you’re not familiar, Thrive Market is an online marketplace that offers a wide variety of organic, non-GMO, and sustainable products. They have all sorts of pantry and shelf-stable items (and wine!), and they also have frozen foods, which ship in a separate box. You have to spend at least $50 on a frozen order and you get free shipping on frozen orders that are $99 or more (otherwise it’s $19.95).
Because the company ships directly to you, there are no intermediaries or retail mark-ups. You do have to be a member: It’s $60 for the year, but the company estimates that members save about 30% and are covered by Thrive Market’s low-price guarantee. Let’s say, you only saved $40 during your membership year, the company will automatically add $20 in Thrive Cash to your account when you renew.
With my quality and pricing concerns at ease, I was also curious about the environmental impact of shipping groceries that were both heavy and frozen. As a carbon-neutral company, it uses ground shipping to transport orders from their regional fulfillment centers to your door. All of the packaging is reusable and recyclable, and the sturdy shipping box for frozen stuff contains a cold pack and gets lined with insulation to keep the proteins at a safe temperature throughout their journey.
My Honest Thrive Market Review
The convenience of clicking on an expanded list of meat offerings piqued my interest, but I was still wary of outsourcing my protein picks. I like to be able to pick up my meat, look it over, maybe even talk to the store’s butcher. For my first order, I took a chance and selected a spiral-sliced ham, whole turkey, and boneless turkey breast. (While some of these holiday options are no longer in stock, Thrive Market still carries a variety of pasture-raised poultry options all year long.)
Frozen orders are shipped Monday through Wednesday with two-day shipping, which held true despite the current strains on the supply chain. Everything was still frozen solid upon arrival. The groceries were snugly packed in a sturdy box, lined with a carpet-like insulation pad and an Enviro Ice pack.
After taking a few days to thaw, I prepared the smoked, uncured ham using my favorite method — the slow cooker. The ham was smoky and slightly sweet; exactly how I like it. I paired it with a mustard and maple syrup glaze, which soaked into the slices to help maintain its moisture. I also fried up leftover slices for breakfast with some buttery homemade biscuits and added the remaining bits from the bone to slider rolls for an easy, stress-free supper. Mary’s boneless turkey breast was the centerpiece of a pre-holiday holiday dinner, spiraled around stuffing (it’s an easy way to impress a table of dinner guests). And the turkey was one of the best I’ve ever served for Thanksgiving. The juicy and seasoned meat even had the most passionate turkey naysayers sneaking a second slice.
I quickly placed a second order: boneless, skinless chicken breasts, flank steaks, a whole chicken, and wild-caught Atlantic pollock filets. I also added a few boxes of frozen potstickers and a pair of lobster tails (because, why not?). I’m still eating through this delivery, but I have to say, so far, the quality has been better than anything I’ve ever picked out for myself in person. And with COVID-19 levels still spiking, I’m happy to spend less time in the grocery store.
Have you tried Thrive Market’s frozen protein options? Tell us what you loved about it.