I Always Preferred to Buy My Meat in Person — Then I Tried This Online Delivery Service

updated Oct 24, 2022
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As a professional recipe developer, grocery shopping is a prime part of my job. I spend so much time in the aisles poring over ingredients that some weeks, I expect the store manager to come ask for my portion of the rent. But having seen many empty grocery shelves throughout 2021 and knowing that there were potential holiday turkey and ham shortages, I ordered my holiday meats online and way ahead of schedule from Thrive Market last year. They have an expansive selection of frozen proteins and I was curious to see how they would stack up against my usual in-person picks.

Credit: Patty Catalano

What Is Thrive Market?

If you’re not familiar, Thrive Market is an online membership-based grocery store that offers a wide variety of organic, non-GMO, and sustainable products. They have all sorts of pantry and shelf-stable items as well as wine and frozen foods, which ship separately.

How Do You Shop at Thrive Market?

To shop at Thrive Market, you’ll need to purchase a membership for $59.95 per year. For free shipping, spend at least $49 on groceries (otherwise it’s $5.95) and or at least $120 on frozen items (otherwise it’s $19.95).

Because the company ships directly to you, there are no middle men or grocery store mark-ups. The company estimates that members save up to 30% buying from them rather than at brick-and-mortar stores, and is so confident that they back it up with a low-price guarantee. For example, if you only saved $40 during your membership year, the company will automatically add $20 in Thrive Cash to your account upon renewal.

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. The company’s shipping, energy usage, and employees’ commutes are certified carbon-neutral. All of the packaging is reusable and recyclable, and the sturdy shipping box for frozen items is lined with insulation to keep the proteins at a safe temperature and comes with an ice pack, too.

Credit: Patty Catalano

An Honest Review of Thrive Market

The convenience of clicking on an expanded list of meat offerings piqued my interest, but I was still wary of outsourcing my protein. I like to be able to pick up my meat, look it over, and maybe even talk to the store’s butcher. For my first order, I took a chance and chose a spiral-sliced ham, whole turkey, and boneless turkey breast for a few holiday dinner parties. While some of these items are only available around the holidays, Thrive Market carries a variety of pasture-raised poultry all year round.

Frozen orders leave Thrive Market’s warehouses Monday through Wednesday (and Thursdays for some states) with two-day shipping, and everything in my order was still frozen solid upon arrival. The groceries were snugly packed in a sturdy box, lined with a carpet-like insulation pad and dry ice.

I thawed the meat for a few days and then 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 nicely into the slices to help maintain its moisture. I also fried up the leftover slices for breakfast with some buttery homemade biscuits and added the remaining bits from around the bone to slider rolls for an easy, stress-free supper. The boneless turkey breast was the centerpiece of a pre-holiday holiday dinner, spiraled around stuffing (an easy way to impress a table of hungry guests), while the whole turkey itself 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.

Once I’d cleared off my plate, I quickly placed a second order: boneless and skinless chicken breasts, flank steaks, wild-caught Atlantic pollock filets, and a whole chicken. I also added a few boxes of frozen potstickers and a pair of lobster tails (because, why not?). I ate through that delivery in a few months, and was just as impressed with the quality — it’s better than anything I’ve ever picked out for myself in person.

Have you tried Thrive Market? Tell us what you loved about it.