Monday, July 20, 2015

The Great Grocery Experiment

One of my biggest concerns before moving to Shanghai was how I was going to grocery shop without a car.   I had nightmares about walking down crowded streets, juggling bags of unidentifiable food.  I am happy to report that grocery shopping has gotten MUCH easier since I first stepped foot in Shanghai.  Gone are the days of crying in Carrefour.  

These days, I do the majority of my grocery shopping online!  Online grocery stores and meal services are popping up all over the city.  For this post, I decided to share my favorite online grocers, and share the sites for some new grocers.   

Here’s how this post went down.  I made a list of ten items that I usually purchase from online grocery stores.  I checked for availability and prices on four sites, City Shop, Epermarket, Fields, and Kate and Kimi.  Then I ordered a random assortment of groceries from these sites.  None of these stores knew that I was going to review them, so they provided me the goods and customer service that any consumer would get.  During this time, I was also was presented with the opportunity to review, a Blue Apron like service that delivers meals that provide the feeling of a home cooked meal without the irritating prep work.  (They sent me two complimentary meals to fix in exchange for my thoughts.)

So here’s how it went…

Their Prices:

Here’s what my food looked like when it arrived:
Why I use them:  I have been a loyal Epermarket customer for about six months now.  I have no complaints.  The only time they mixed up one item in my order, the situation was corrected in 30 minutes.  Their produce is always top notch, their meats are tasty, and they deliver our dog food and laundry detergent.  I especially appreciate their large selection of cheeses!

Epermarket also has a great customer loyalty program.
If you spend a set amount of money, Epermarket will throw in some free gifts like this mini fondue mug or funky beer glass.  Sometimes they also stick in free food to try!  They also have a great store credit program; the more I shop, the more free money I get to spend!

Their Prices:

Here’s what my food looked like when it arrived:
This is my Cityshop Thanksgiving from 2012.
Why I use them:  I have to admit, I don’t use City Shop very much.  They do provide a big selection of groceries, but I can find more on other sites.  They do make a fantastic Thanksgiving feast that I order for my annual friendsgiving.  I haven’t ever had any problems with their delivery services.
Cityshop is my go to place for turkey day!
Their Prices:

Here’s what my food looked like when it arrived:

Why I use them:  While I have used Fields in the past for one Thanksgiving, this was the first time I used them for regular groceries.  I have to say I was impressed with the quality of the food, and the speed with which my food arrived.  (I ordered my food at 4:55; it was at my doorstep at 6:30 the same day.)  While they didn’t carry some of my typical grocery items, they do have a great selection of produce and meats.  I especially appreciate how they carry large bags of rice.  (I no longer have to wrestle 5kg of rice down the street.)  I will also be reordering their salmon!

Their Prices:

Here’s what my food looked like when it arrived:
I appreciated the hand written letter welcoming me to the Kate&Kimi community!
Why I use them:  Prior to this post, I had never used Kate & Kimi.  If you are looking for locally produced goods, Kate & Kimi is your place to shop.   My dogs LOVED the locally produced dog treats that I bought from Angel and TL, and I thoroughly enjoyed my muffin from Sweet Ever After.  I also had fun cooking with my tri colored mini carrots and mixed color cherry tomatoes.  Shopping on their site feels like shopping at an online farmers market.  

I REALLY appreciate the ability to buy safe, healthy dog treats for the fur kids.  

I will definitely be a return customer!

Their Prices:  Meals range from 18 RMB to 199 RMB (For a family sized meal)

Here’s what my food looked like when it arrived:
Make sure you are home when receiving the box.  The contents need to be refrigerated. 

Also, don't order too many meals at once.  The meals need to be prepared within 48 hours to ensure freshness.
Why I use them:  I am lazy.  I don’t like trolling for ingredients and peeling vegetables before cooking.  Xinweicook eliminates these nuisances. 
Ever since I visited Thailand, I've wanted to make Tom Yum soup.  This kit had all of the ingredients for the soup premeasured.  All I had to do was chop and follow the enclosed directions. 
Unfortunately, the directions in the box were in Chinese, however I was able to quickly find the instructions online.  
The fresh ingredients smelled incredible!

The soup tasted just like the one I fell in love with in Thailand.  
I will more than likely use Xinweicook again the next time I want to cook Tom Yum soup, or want to try a new dish in the kitchen.  The ingredients are fresh, the recipes are relatively easy, the prices are reasonable, and the results are tasty. 

Where do you grocery shop online?  Leave your recommendations in the comments section below!


Anonymous said...

This is such an awesome and informative post! Besides groceries, I'm interested to know where you shop for everyday household items like toothpaste, shampoo, soap, laundry detergent, etc.. as I am a little concerned about counterfeits laced with harmful things.

Anne-Marie said...

Great questions all around!!

I import my shampoo because I have crazy hair and am picky about the products I use. I just stock up on my home trips. Many of my friends use Watsons or Carrefour for hair products with no problem. The online grocery stores also carry these products.

I get my Intuition razor blades and Complete Contact Lens solution at Watson’s. (They are actually cheaper over here.)

I also import antiperspirant because it is difficult to find. (Ask most expat men and they will agree.) I also import tampons, but now you can find them on Epermarket. (Though supplies may fluctuate.)

Toothpaste, hand soap, and laundry detergent from Carrefour is usually safe, but now I buy it on Epermarket. (I’m telling you, they have everything.) Our washer only has cold water, so I buy Tide Coldwater Clean to ensure our clothes get clean. (We had some issues for a while.)

Makeup is also more expensive over here, so I would stock up at home and carry.

Before relocating, I highly suggest looking at the online grocery store websites to see what they carry, then stock up and import the things you can’t live without.

I hope this helps!

Michelle said...

Really great blog and super helpful. We just arrived last week and I was dreading the thought of having to schlep a big bag of rice, laundry detergent, and water all in one go!

Anne-Marie said...

Michelle, do you have a water dispenser in your place? If so, I would get Nestle to deliver your water. They have an English hotline, and their prices are cheap!

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for the insight regarding everyday household items, Anne-Marie. Love your blog!