When talking with friends, and sometimes strangers, about the biggest challenge to transitioning to healthy living, I often hear that it is how to keep the fridge and fruit bowl stocked when produce only lasts such a short period of time.
This makes sense. I’ve always noticed that if and when I am at a friend’s house and a bag of Goldfish and/or greasy kettle-cooked chips are staring me down, and within arm’s reach, I will eat them. Whereas, when I am at home working at my desk and all that is on hand are carrots and frozen peas and grapes and unsalted peanuts and almonds, that is what I snack on, and I am just as contented.
The biggest challenge to keeping fresh produce (especially your supergreens like kale and spinach) stocked and not wilted may be the grocery-shopping process itself, which is usually a hassle in the city (snaking lines around Trader Joe’s entrances are no secret). Still, there are a few simple strategies you can employ to help keep you on track. What I’ve found is, whether it’s eating healthy or meeting obligations, it’s all about setting up methods and systems that work for your life. Here are four to try today.
1. Order from Fresh Direct
I used to somehow always be at one New York City friend’s apartment every couple of days when his fresh-food, boxed-up shipment from FD arrived. When Fresh Direct became available, it changed healthy eating at home in the city, especially for those who simply didn’t have time to get to the store to pick up healthy food. My friend worked long, tedious hours at a corporate law firm and shopping at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s just wasn’t going to happen. The site solved the dilemma. It easily allowed him to pop on and select fruits and vegetables and other grocery items, then schedule a delivery for when he’d be home (or someone else would be around). You can easily order produce on the website, and the prices are not outrageous (we’re talking arugula $1.99 each; green kale $2.29 each; and, navel oranges .99 cents each). The produce gets delivered to your house, or office, securely packed to keep your produce unbruised. When you go to the Vegetables tab, always click first on Produce Deals to see what’s going–remember, greens wilt fast for the grocer too. Today, escarole was $1.49 each or two for $2.00, which is a sweet savings that could add up. Go here to get started today.
2. Join A Community Garden
Another idea to try, if you live in the city, is to join a garden in your neighborhood. The rewards will not be as fast, but will come with an extra dollop of satisfaction in that you grew your own fresh food. Recently, on a weekend trip, a couple told me about meeting the man who ran a local garden near their Lower East Side apartment (I believe his name was Ernest). They met him walking by one day, got to chatting and were soon emailing him about joining the garden and put on the wait list. Bonus: Most of these gardens have a long, dramatic New Yorkified history and story all their own, all very ’80s rough-and-tumble New York. After getting on and up the waiting list, when you get the green light to join (rates are low, for this couple $10), you get a designated plot and can plant your very own produce. As an extra perk, you can also usually host small parties for groups of friends at the garden once you are a member, upping your coolness factor. Go here to find the community garden in your borough closest to your pad. And learn more about NYC Community Gardens across the boroughs here.
3. Get Yourself A Minion (er, Task Rabbit)
Hire someone. If you work in an office, you get to a point often where your time is worth more money, and better spent, working rather than running errands–that’s when it’s time to hire a cleaning person for yout a-p-t, drop your dirty clothes routinely at the corner dry cleaner’s…and, yes, hire a Task Rabbit to keep your fridge and fruit bowl stocked. This is especially your option if Fresh Direct doesn’t work for you, because it doesn’t allow you to give direction or because it offers the foods that you want but not at the right prices. It is now exceedingly easy to join Task Rabbit (apply in five minutes and hire your very own minion within 24 hours–often a recent college grad who is looking for extra cash and eager to please).Your produce stocker will go to your store of choice and pick up the produce you want. You can give specific instructions (if the fresh blueberries are too high, or too ripe, go frozen; cantaloupes not too mushy and ripe; tomatoes more round and red than pink and oval) and get exactly what you want. Pay through the site and either collect bids on what someone would charge you for the service or post your own price. Because the Task Rabbits rely on good reviews to continue getting new work, you are pretty much guaranteed to get someone who will do a good job for you. Go here to sign up today.
4. Grocery Store Online Order + Delivery
Most grocery stores actually offer a delivery service where you can place an order and have your groceries and produce delivered to you. Shop around the neighborhood for the best prices, and know that it may take a bit of trial and error to get the right person who knows how to select the best produce for you. Chances are, even though you’re paying for the delivery, you’ll also be able to make and bring your lunch every day instead of going out to eat,which will end up saving you money. Try these two, for starters: D’agostino’s or Food Emporium Delivery. Now, the trick will be to gobble up that rainbow of produce fast once you’ve got the stocking covered. Consider a juicer and starting your day with some kale-celery-apple-carrot action. Mmmm, mmm good, a true breakfast bev of champions.
Columnist Julie D. Andrews is a writer and editor living in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @julieDandrews.