Yourgrocer review

We heart digital disruption at Nest Legal and not just in the legal space.  In this series of blog posts, we look at other businesses using tech in fun new ways to shake up the status quo, particularly those that make life easier for young families.

First up, my review of Yourgrocer – the grocery delivery service that goes around to your favourite local shops and delivers them with a smile.

It was one sorry afternoon at Northcote Plaza whilst pregnant and attempting to reason with an overtired toddler about the Peppa Pig ride that made me first re-consider the merits of online grocery shopping.

I’d trialled Coles online before but was annoyed by the amount of packaging used and the prices of fresh fruit and veg for the quality I got just didn’t compete with my local greengrocer or market.  I didn’t want to return our old food co-op, collecting a veg box each week that would leave us constructing meals out of two kohlrabi and a beetroot.  And Aussie Farmers Direct required deliveries to Northcote on a Monday to be ordered by lunchtime on Friday, which was never going to happen.

So when someone posted in the Inner North Melbourne Families Facebook group about Yourgrocer, a startup offering same-day online grocery shopping from the inner north’s local shops, I was intrigued.  Especially when I read that the service cost $8 a pop (or $20 a month), which I would easily spend on coffees, treats to placate the toddler or impulse buys when doing the shopping in person.

My husband wasn’t convinced to begin with. How would we know what produce would be good each week? I considered seasonal eating would mostly eliminate that risk. And it wasn’t in their interest to offload bad apples to its client base.

Didn’t we enjoy picking our own produce from the market/grocer?  With a toddler and a baby in tow, food shopping requires a constant state of motion which doesn’t leave much time for culinary contemplation. And if one of us was going to spend our precious day off heading out and leaving the other with two kids, we’d prefer it to be for something more fun that grocery shopping.  This is why we would increasingly make excuses not to do so, and end up making multiple small trips to the Plaza to buy stuff for that night.

If we meal planned at the start of the week, what if we wanted to eat out come Friday?  We could leave some room for flexibility in the week’s shop.  Then I asked him to recollect the last time we had an impromptu Friday night out since having kids. The decision was made.

So how is it going?

On Sunday evening or first thing Monday, I survey the fridge, freezer, garden and weekly specials, check the week’s weather and how much time we will have for food prep, and then write a meal plan for the next five days (assuming one day we will eat elsewhere and one day of leftovers).  Without a two-year-old bellowing at me, I can usually come up with a combo that results in a balanced-ish diet with minimal food waste. Or if my brain is too full, I just use the Soupstones weekly meal plans and shopping lists. The groceries are then delivered on Monday evenings within a two-hour window.  It is packaged in re-used and recyclable cardboard boxes and freezer bags with an icepack, which I then leave on the porch for collection and re-use. If I’m home when it is delivered, they’ll carry it inside into the kitchen for me, and if not, they’ll send a text letting me know it has been delivered.

Yes, there has been the occasional instance of wilted silverbeet or an oversized zucchini.  And their packaging of salad leaves in paper bags is a bit odd. But the quality is generally on par with what I would choose myself. 

There are some curious absences in their stock (say, frozen peas and black loose leaf tea) but the range is pretty comprehensive, and delivery to Northcote allows me to choose from fab local stockists such as Canals Seafood, La Manna Fresh, Peter’s Meats, Rustica Sourdough Bakery, Maria’s Pasta, Blackhearts & Sparrows and Wide Open Road. 

The website isn’t as fast as others. But it remembers your most popular grocery items, and the payment and delivery interface works well.   There have been a few technical issues, but unlike with my experience with Coles, they are always rectified quickly and with an apology and a smile. Or with a smiley fellow on your doorstep bearing two trouts and tin of cannellini beans within hours of you raising the issue on the website’s livechat – how they will make this level of customer service scalable I’d love to know!

We could probably eat the same or better for cheaper, were my weekends once again conducive to wandering around markets whilst compiling considered meal plans on the hop after surveying each vendor’s fare. 

But we’re spending less on groceries than before, as there is less waste, less pizza dinners and the meal planning is more conducive to slow cooks of secondary cuts, a few vegetarian meals each week and strategic use of any leftovers.  This means less time shopping and less time cooking, so those precious hours together as a family can be spent doing something more fun than fighting about Peppa Pig.

On those measures of success, I’m really happy with Yourgrocer.