How do I automate healthy eating?
December 24, 2021 8:07 AM   Subscribe

One of my new year's resolutions is to eat healthier. I do a fairly good job but I often unintentionally skip meals because I don't have food in the home because I forgot to order groceries/don't have time. I want to automate it as much as I can!

I'm a busy single woman. I run two companies and don't have time for much else....which includes household stuff like grocery shopping.

Is there a way that I can have a Whole Foods order via Amazon automatically ordered and delivered for me every week?

I've tried the meal prep services but they've been hit and miss because:
- I don't have time to cook alot of the times
- I don't like some their randomized recipes (I have consistent recipes that I like so I want my grocery order to have that)
- There's odds and ends that I want in my grocery order, like snacks and fruit
- They end up being pretty $$ (but I am willing to throw money at this problem)

I'm open to alternative solutions to my problem. My main criteria is: the same list of groceries delivered to my address every week, that I choose.
posted by pando11 to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I live in a town of less than 200,000 people and there is a local company that actually prepares the meals for you and delivers them twice a week. So not like Hello Fresh or anything where they give you the ingredients to assemble - everything is done and portioned out into single serving containers.

Yes, it is more expensive but the time I save cooking/grocery shopping/cleaning is worth it to me. I don’t enjoy cooking. This company built their target market around gym goers and fitness folks, so macros are included. Maybe your town has something similar?
posted by nathaole at 8:11 AM on December 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

Dumpling is an app that connects you with shoppers - like instacart but shoppers can set their own rates and terms, go to multiple stores, etc. When I looked, the going rate was 15% of order with a $15 minimum. If it’s available where you are, you sound like someone’s ideal customer.
posted by momus_window at 8:15 AM on December 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

Thrive market doesn't do fresh produce, but otherwise meets your requirements.
posted by oceano at 8:20 AM on December 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

Where are you located? Where I am, Farmstead does recurring deliveries.
posted by pinochiette at 8:22 AM on December 24, 2021

Best answer: Whole Foods/Amazon has an option where you can add your entire previous order to your cart and order it again. You would go to orders and then look at your past order and click on it.

You would still have submit the order each time, and delivery times are going to vary. Also, it's possible that items will be out of stock and you'll be asked about substitutions. And Amazon shoppers aren't always great at picking out produce. I've had onions with soft spots and even mold.
posted by FencingGal at 8:42 AM on December 24, 2021 [3 favorites]

If you have trouble finding the perfect service, then maybe you can also try to build in a buffer for weeks where you can't go shopping. Do you have space to stock up on an extra week's (or more) frozen goods, canned goods, nonperishables, and the relatively long-lasting types of produce?

Since you say you can throw money at it, any chance you'd be able to hire someone to do a whole bunch of batch cooking for you once or twice a month, that you could freeze and access as needed when you don't have the time or ingredients to cook?

For grocery orders specifically, you might investigate some services (often small-scale/local ones) targeted at senior citizens living independently, which might offer services like a regular personal shopper.
posted by trig at 9:35 AM on December 24, 2021 [2 favorites]

Whole Foods/Amazon has an option where you can add your entire previous order to your cart and order it again.

I think most grocery stores that have online ordering/delivery have this feature. One of the stores I use (Wegman's) also has a "saved lists" option where you can have lists of items and just add them all to your cart in one fell swoop (I keep a list with stuff I buy frequently, but I always have to edit it a bit since I don't literally need the same groceries every week - sometimes I'm away from home or the store is closed for a holiday on the day I usually pick up or whatever). As FencingGal points out, you do still have to actually go to the site and click the button to order once a week, but it's pretty painless.
posted by mskyle at 9:35 AM on December 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

Not sure if this'll be helpful, but in your grocery order have healthy snacks so when you skip meals and need food that's to hand, what's readily and abundantly available is healthy and ready to eat. Remembering crunch times where I ate peeps and nilla wafers for breakfast because that was what was in the room.

If you ever have time to cook once a week or once every two weeks, cook a giant portion of X and use leftovers for lunches for the rest of the week.

Vegetables are hard because they go bad so quickly, but Brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage) keep in the fridge for a really long time and can be prepped and roasted in the oven really easily (sheet bakes = the "set it and forget it" of food).

Freezing stuff: freezable batches help for weekday dinners when they're nothing around - can pull out a bag of frozen ___ the morning of or day before for dinnertime. Find the frozen stuff that can be relied on for a quick dinner: frozen shrimp can be pulled out and cooked up pretty quickly for some quick protein in a dinner. Frozen salmon fillets (thawed the day before) doesn't take long to cook and pairs well with anything. Frozen peas are what we pull out when we need to + vegetable to something and we're really tired.

Smoothies - with fresh or frozen fruit + some milk + throw in some spinach or w/e, quick way to get some fresh fruit into your diet?

Embrace ordering in - are there delivery or takeout places with food options that are relatively healthy?
posted by Geameade at 9:43 AM on December 24, 2021

Hungry Root might meet some of your requirements.
posted by wwax at 9:49 AM on December 24, 2021

Are you in a big city? It's taken me about a year to get into a good groove but now that I'm here it's pretty sweet.

I have a veggie delivery box delivered 1x a week. It contains a baseline of 75% veg 25% fruit, with a pretty regular staple of items. The one I use in the PNW is called Full Circle. The basic service is $35/week, so much more expensive than the grocery store but worth it for me. You can also set what you don't want delivered and update your order. They have partnerships with other food providers so you can add snacks and other pantry items, which I do maybe every other month or so if something looks good.

I also have a meat delivery service from an in state farm. They deliver a selection of cuts to me frozen every other month. Like with full circle, I can edit and tweak it if I want but if I am overwhelmed or too busy I can just work with the standard option that shows up.

I have a pretty stocked pantry, which I have gotten into the habit of replenishing with a pretty standard instacart order.

I also have a grocery list on trello which is prepopulated and sorted by dept. If I need a thing I just uncheck it on my phone and now it's there to help me if I need to make an instacart order between meetings or happen to have a min to run to the store (or my husband does).

Basically now that this is all set up, whenever I get the veggies every week, I pretend like I am on an episode of chopped. It's become pretty routine and I only got to this place because of pandemic wfh, but now I've got this system and it's not going away!

Oh one last thing: there is also a local company here called Eat Local that makes frozen meals that are decent enough. I stock the freezer with some (can purchase online) every few months. I try to always have a, b and c options before I get to option d (just order a pizza).

A = healthy home cooked meal with fresh ingredients
B = quick and easy meal with a few fresh but mostly pantry ingredients
C = a frozen meal from the local spot heated in the oven

I know this sounds like a lot of work but it has just taken some time and patience to build. When I lived in Boston and LA there were similar businesses, so if you live in a big city you might be able to find all of these options.
posted by pazazygeek at 9:58 AM on December 24, 2021

Best answer: I’m not sure if this is too much “throw money at the problem” but personal chefs aren’t just for the 1%. (Restaurant labor shortage may have changed this.) Once a week you can have someone grocery shop for you, have a hot meal, make a couple “just throw it in the oven”, and stock your freezer. Meal for meal probably not *too* much more expensive than moderately-nice restaurant food, and you get to work with someone to adapt the recipes.
posted by supercres at 10:08 AM on December 24, 2021 [5 favorites]

Keep easy vegetables on hand. Frozen pureed squash is delicious. Frozen Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, or butternut squash roast well. The frozen French green beans at Trader Joes are really good. Cabbage keeps well in the fridge and can be eaten raw with any dressing, or sauteed. I like frozen versions of beef with broccoli and add frozen broccoli because they don't add enough. Frozen spinach for smoothies or ramen. Frozen peas or Lima beans are delicious with butter, salt, pepper, or in ramen. Ramen with chopped spinach, peas, and an egg is fast.

1 can black beans, 1 can corn, 1 can beets, 1 can's worth of salsa is a quick easy salad, and there are a bunch of similar pantry meal options.

There are really good Indian packet meals, usually vegetarian. Cook some rice, pasta or potatoes if they're too spicy, and if you want a more substantial meal.

A baked sweet or white potato is an easy meal. Adding yogurt or toppings is nice but just butter is still really good.

My grocery has tasty Chicken Biryani that can be frozen; it's easily 2 meals for me. Look carefully at what fresh and frozen meals are available at Trader Joe's and your local market and stock the freezer and fridge.

If there's a local meal service, sign up for 1 or 2 meals a week. Chinese and Thai takeout offers lots of vegetable-centric dishes, and it's easy to get into the habit of getting Chinese every Thursday or whatever. Peeled & cut (baby) carrots are easy.

It's worth figuring the easiest ways to cook eggs and keeping them on hand. I love scrambled eggs, greens and salsa in a warmed corn tortilla and can make it in minutes. Oatmeal is easy to make in the microwave - use a big bowl, extra water, and cook on 30% for 15 minutes to avoid boilover. I keep good bread in the freezer for toast and add peanut butter.

Keep canned tuna in the cupboard and mayo in the fridge and have tuna or egg salad on toast or crackers. Hummus keeps pretty well; have it with crackers or baby carrots.

When you get groceries, get prepared green salads or whatever greens you like and have salad 2x a day until you use it up. I don't shop enough to keep fresh greens on hand all the time.

I think you can make a list of 2 - 30 meals and prep the pantry, fridge and freezer to eat nutritiously and easily. Cleanup is often a barrier to cooking, so maybe have a cleaner sometimes.
posted by theora55 at 10:12 AM on December 24, 2021 [2 favorites]

I’m not sure where you are, but I order from a company named Spud in Vancouver, BC. You set up a standing order, and every week they deliver it on the same day. So every Monday I leave out my bin and reusable packaging, they take it and leave a fresh bin. The standing order is on a 4 week cycle, so I have $40 of produce every week (I did a quiz, and based on that they choose what’s in season), bread and milk, then on week 1 and 3 chicken thighs, week 2 ground beef, etc. Any week I can log on and change stuff, but having it prepopulated really helps.
posted by Valancy Rachel at 11:07 AM on December 24, 2021

I use Farmstead (available in the SF bay area, and a few other locations), and you can configure things to "refill" each week, which is great. If I do nothing, the same groceries show up at my door at the same time every week. I can choose to skip an item or add on-off items any time.

My local grocery chain (Nob Hill/Raleys) lets you create multiple "save for later" lists. I add everything I regularly buy to one list, then that's my first stop when starting my grocery order. It's a great prompt for things I might forget otherwise. You can also just add everything from a previous order to your cart. I had used this service for months before I noticed the lists, so check out your local options for something similar.

I just checked Amazon Fresh, and it has an option for recurring orders. Though it sounds like you still need to submit the order.

This is more along the lines of the meal kits, but I tried Freshly a while back (refrigerated premade individual meals), and it seemed pretty good. It didn't work for my family as a whole, but if it was just me, and I was short on time, I would definitely consider it. You'd still need groceries in addition though obviously.
posted by loop at 1:48 PM on December 24, 2021

A lot of the meal delivery kits also offer frozen meals now, including Martha Stewart's Marleyspoon. I'm not a Martha fan, but some of her DIY meals were superlative, with generous and interesting spices, all organic vegetables, etc., and innovative recipes, so I expect her frozen meals are better than average, too.
posted by Violet Blue at 5:44 PM on December 24, 2021

Eat This Much?
posted by MollyRealized at 3:29 PM on December 26, 2021

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