One of my wife’s greatest talents during this time of sheltering in place is her ability to make actual meals from whatever we have in the pantry. This may sound mundane, but given the state of the world, our pantry is stocked with lots of dry and canned goods at the moment and last minute one-off trips to the grocery store aren’t in the cards.
If you’re stuck in a similar situation, you may want to check out Anycart, a new online shoppable recipe service that launched in the U.S. over this past weekend.
Instead of shopping for individual food items, Anycart lets you shop for meals that appeal to you and your family. Those include Easy Chicken Swimming Rama, Chicken Thighs with Hummus and Cucumbers, and Homemade Easy Mac and Cheese. Select the meal you want and all the ingredients for it are sent to a participating grocery store near you (Safeway, Albertsons, etc.) for fulfillment and delivery or pickup.
This is where meal shopping in the age of COVID-19 is a double-edged sword. More of us are shopping for groceries online more than ever, but that also means grocers can be overloaded, especially for delivery. Case in point: I tested Anycart this morning, picking meals and designating a Safeway as the fulfillment location. Anycart said my order would be delivered sometime between today and Saturday (with some caveats to get them out of fulling committing to that time). However, a quick check on Safeway (and personal experience with my local store) shows it doesn’t have any delivery times available until after Saturday, April 5. The only pickup option for me was an hour away .
This is partially a quirk of the more rural area where I live , but delivery delays are probably not uncommon as online grocery orders surge in this time of staying at home. Part of the appeal and promise of shoppable recipes is that you can be inspired by a new type of cuisine and then act on it. But if there is a huge delay between inspiration and action, then the shoppable recipe loses some of its lustre. That Caprese Grain Bowl with Avocado might sound good on Monday, but if you can’t make it until Saturday, you palate might have moved on.
The whole shoppable recipe space was pretty hot a couple years back with Fexy Media and Myxx providing similar offerings, and BuzzFeed’s Tasty partnered with Walmart for shoppable recipes last year. But it’s not a space that we hear a lot about or see a lot of action. Perhaps if the grocery e-commerce boom we are currently in sustains beyond this time of sheltering in place, shoppable recipes will become more central to the e-commerce experience. Who knows, even my wife may start using them.