Last week, I investigated meal-kit deliveries, which have boomed in popularity during the pandemic. I awarded them an overall thumb’s down—too expensive and labour intensive.
Now, I’m exploring online grocery shopping, especially as Covid variants make me rather leery about venturing into stores, even with a mask. I’ve tried curbside pickup from Superstore, which works reasonably well but can be chaotic, with longer waits, unanticipated substitutions and quality issues. Costco’s grocery delivery service is a little complicated for me, with higher prices and fewer choices (such as cheeses) than shopping in store.
But I think I’ve found a winner in SPUD.ca, a Vancouver-based company delivering groceries to doorsteps in major B.C. and Alberta markets. It ticks nearly all my boxes: fresh, local and often organic groceries. As my sister says, it’s like having a personal grocery shopper.
The prices are a little higher than in large grocery stores but easily in line with health-food stores. Plus, there are lots of sale items that bring prices down considerably. Indeed, more than half my recent order was on sale: $2 for a head of organic cauliflower, $1 for an organic avocado and $3.50 for a fillet of wild sockeye salmon. Plus I got a $30 credit for signing up, bringing my first order’s total bill down to about $50.
SPUD covers most of the non-produce bases including canned goods, bakery items, fresh and frozen meats, milk and eggs, and local fresh-roasted coffees and craft beers. Most of the items in Calgary are locally produced by topnotch firms like Valbella (sausages), Sidwalk Citizen (bread), Pie Junkie, Rosso coffee, Annex beer and Springbank cheese. SPUD’s website even lists the distance each item travels to its warehouse.
Like any grocery delivery or curbside pickup service, SPUD does use a fair bit of packaging. Foil packing and ice bags can be picked up by the delivery truck. But during Covid, the large cardboard box that many orders arrive in must be recycled by the customer. And I’m pretty sure the coated butcher paper surrounding a couple of produce items cannot be recycled.
But these are small quibbles, outweighed by an easy-to-navigate website and the ability to add items to an order up to a day before the weekly delivery date. Unlike the subscription model used by most meal-kit services, I can order when I want.
With SPUD, I’m liking what I see, and taste. I think it could well outlast the pandemic and become part of my regular grocery shopping routine.
P.S. Ironically, while writing this post, I was phoned by a most friendly SPUD employee, wanting to know what I thought of my experience. Had to say it was all good.