I Joined Thrive Market to Help Kick My Whole Foods Habit — Here’s How It’s Going

published Jan 13, 2020
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Credit: Getty, Thrive

I’ll be the first to admit that I have a Whole Foods problem. I live in walking distance to one, and because I work from home it’s all too easy for me to want to get out and “stretch my legs” and run over to Whole Foods for “just one item for dinner tonight.” This is how I end up there almost every day, buying way more than one item (of course), and spending way more money on groceries than I have any right to.

With this in mind, I’d been thinking about ways I could curb my Whole Foods habit. Not only does it lead to higher-than-ideal grocery bills every month, but it’s also not going to be convenient anymore — I am expecting my first baby any day now, and I know my grocery shopping habits will have to be drastically different in those first hazy postpartum months (and beyond!).

The only realistic and appealing alternative option out there to me was Thrive Market. I’d been curious to try the online, membership-based marketplace, which cuts out the middle man and offers 25 to 50% off retail prices on tons of organic, non-GMO, and sustainable products.

Thrive Market is not a one-stop shop where I can get everything, like produce and refrigerated or frozen products, but I figured if I ordered the bulk of my dry and pantry goods and home and beauty products from the site and had it all delivered to my door, then it would cut down on how much time and money I spent at Whole Foods.

So I finally took the plunge late last year and signed up for a membership. Here’s how it’s been going.

How Thrive Market Works

First, in order to shop Thrive Market’s offerings, you need to become a member. You can sign up for a free 30-day trial, and then if you choose to stay on you will be billed the yearly fee of $59.95. Once you become a member and have an account, you can virtually browse their “aisles” (broken into sections like Food, Wine, Vitamins & Supplements, Beauty, Bath & Body, Babies & Kids, Home, Pet) and add items to your box.

  • Pricing and fees: $59.95 a year. (If you don’t make back your membership fee in savings by the end of the year, they’ll automatically give you the difference in Thrive Market credit after you renew.)
  • Where it’s available: Thrive Market ships right to your doorstep and is available to all residential and commercial addresses in the contiguous U.S.

You’ll need to spend at least $49 to qualify for free shipping — otherwise shipping is a flat rate of $5.95. Most orders typically arrive within two to three business days, so be mindful of that if you know you’ll need certain items coming up.

Join: Thrive Market Membership, $60 for the year

What I Like About Thrive Market

Part of the reason I get in so much trouble at Whole Foods is because I love to grocery shop. I will go up and down each aisle, looking to see if there’s anything new that catches my eye. I’m a peruser — and that often leads to impulse buys. But with Thrive Market, I can scratch that itch of shopping by clicking on items and reading all about them. If something piques my interest, I add it to my order, but I am more likely to edit it out later as I see the total cost creep up (something I only see at check-out during an in-person shopping experience, where I’m less likely to run and physically put something back).

I also love that, while I’m loyal to certain items like Whole Foods’ unsweetened and unsalted creamy peanut butter, I can buy most of my staples on Thrive. I was surprised to find that in addition to their own house brand (with 500 products that range from olive oil to almond flour), they stock so many of my go-to brands like Siete Foods, Primal Kitchen, Purely Elizabeth, and Banza. I was even able to order my shampoo, conditioner, soap, and mouthwash on Thrive — all at prices way lower than what I normally spend at Whole Foods.

I also love that I can save Favorite items to lists to keep track of the products I purchase most frequently. When I’m ready to order them again, I can easily find them in one place and add them to my box with the click of a button. I’ve already noticed this has further helped me cut down on my “browsing” to really get only what I need.

What I Wish Was Different

There’s not much I would change here, although I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that having items shipped to your house has an environmental impact. Luckily Thrive Market is mindful of this (dry goods are delivered using 100% post-consumer recyclable packaging; all of their packaging, boxes, and inserts are made from recycled paper and are recyclable).

I also found the delivery time to be slightly inconsistent between my orders. The first time I placed my order on a Sunday, and it arrived on a Thursday (but there was a national holiday in this timeframe), so it technically arrived in three business days. The second time I placed my order on a Tuesday, but it did not arrive until Saturday (with no national holidays in the time period), so it technically arrived in four business days, which is outside their average of two to three days. Not a deal-breaker, but worth noting!

Other Things to Know

There are some cool “perks” associated with Thrive that I didn’t learn until after I became a member.

First, to help make healthy living accessible for everyone, they match every paid Thrive Market membership with a free one for a low-income family, student, teacher, veteran, or first responder.

They also have the Thrive Market app, which means that basically you can grocery shop while standing in line at the post office! Multi-tasking at its best.

If you’re new to keto, or Whole30, or just have any questions about any of their products or parts of your membership, Thrive has a free service called Thrive Guides, 15-minute phone conversations between you and one of their product specialists. (Thrive also makes it easy to search by diet or things you’re trying to avoid.)

They also offer something called Thrive Cash, which is given when you refer friends to Thrive Market, shop for your favorite products, and leave reviews. Thrive Cash is automatically applied to your cart at checkout. ($1 Thrive Cash dollar equals $1 US dollar), so you don’t have to do anything special beyond “earn” it!)

My Final Thoughts

I will definitely keep using my Thrive Market membership. I already ordered a giant box of (chlorine-free, hypoallergenic) diapers for the baby, which was a revelation. I’m excited to see how much I save over the course of the year (it keeps track for you!) by using this as my primary grocery “store” and supplementing at Whole Foods for fresh produce and refrigerated items. Stay tuned for a full report in 2021!