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There are lots of choices these days for where and how you get your food. But it seems going to the grocery store is increasingly falling out of favor: Even before the pandemic took over our lives, studies showed that millions more Americans—roughly one-third of U.S. households—were shopping online for groceries. We have personally retained regular in-store grocery shopping along with a Sunday trip to the Jackson Heights farmers market, but for variety and convenience, we have added a weekly box of produce and proteins from Imperfect Foods. One online membership that’s remained a constant for us before and during 2020? Thrive Market.
If you aren’t familiar with Thrive, it’s an eco-conscious online membership-based market that specializes in healthy products at discounted prices. It’s not just organic and GMO-free stuff—there are foods for 70+ special diets (keto/gluten-free/paleo/vegan) and values (BPA-free, cruelty-free; made by women or BIPOC), nontoxic home products, ethically sourced meats, sustainable seafood, clean wine (pesticide-free, biodynamic, sustainably farmed), and safe supplements. Sustainability, accessibility, and ethics aren’t just buzzwords for this company: Its dedication to the planet, to regenerative agriculture and fair-trade practices, has recently earned it B Corp status (it’s now the largest grocer to do so).
We mostly use Thrive for shelf-stable pantry items—useful in a pandemic, but generally because our kids are allllways hungry and I often struggle to find healthy-ish snacks to offer. Much like Costco, once you buy a membership for a month ($9.95) or a year ($59.95, which is $5/month), you gain access to thousands of curated food, home, and beauty products. Why would you pay a fee in order to shop here? And is it worth it? Here’s our Thrive Market review to help you decide if it is for you.
If you’re intrigued by Thrive Market and want to give it a whirl for a month or a year, you can choose a free gift, up to $24 in value, when you sign up here!
*After nearly two years of being Thrive Market members, we joined the company’s affiliate program, so we may receive a commission if you purchase a membership through our links (at no extra cost to you). Rest assured we only recommend products and services we use and trust!
The product savings are real. When I first joined two years ago (with a healthy bit of skepticism), I was immediately impressed at all of the items I saw that were dollars cheaper than I’d routinely paid at the supermarket. Boxes of cereal and bags of granola that cost $4.99-$5.99 at my local grocery (Foodtown) cost $3.79-$4.59 on Thrive; good organic Dijon mustard costs $1.79, not $4. It adds up quickly. Once you start shopping, the membership fee truly does pay for itself. According to the company, members save an average of $32 (off retail prices) on every order.
There’s free shipping if you spend $49+, so it’s definitely worthwhile to space out your orders enough to earn that. (Packages ship out pretty quickly and generally arrive within a few days.) Moreover, if you select autoship for your products, you’ll receive another 30% off your first box.
Healthy foods and products
If your family is anything like ours, you need tons of snacks at the ready. Sure, we do lots of fruit and veggie and cheese snacks, but at least once a day I need something from a bag to offer. With Thrive, that means lentil chips, plantain chips, chickpea puffs, granola bars, peanut butter crackers, turkey jerky (and mushroom jerky!)—you get the point. I like that the snacks I order here are simply made, with real ingredients, and often lower in sugar than certain grocery alternatives (these granola bars, for example, are the only ones I’ve found that my kids love and have only 5 grams of sugar per bar).
You can filter search results by diet or value, something I didn’t often use until one of us had to go on a strict no-sugar, grain-free diet this summer. Turns out, there are great options for cauliflower rice, lentil pasta, and bone broth; organic almond flour and almond butter are better-priced on Thrive than at our local supermarket; and the organic coconut milk has just two ingredients. But besides the snacks and these newer finds, our go-to list also includes: low-sugar cereals; organic Grade A maple syrup; Wild Planet-brand mackerel and sardines; organic fair-trade coffee; organic gluten-free oats; ketchup and mustard; organic crushed tomatoes; brown rice; black beans and refried pinto beans; organic no-added-sugar apple sauce. We started out ordering food only but have branched out into sulfate- and paraben-free shampoo and conditioner; dish soaps and biodegradable plant-based all-purpose cleaners; Ayurvedic sandalwood-turmeric soap; chewable multivitamins for kids; natural deodorant, and more. See our full list of EYW Thrive Market must-buys here.
It’s easy on the environment
Besides the eye on sustainability within products, and including filter values like “recyclable” and “biodegradable,” Thrive Market delivers its boxes with carbon-neutral shipping (via a robust carbon-offsetting program) from zero-waste warehouses. Its two fulfillment centers, based in Indiana and Nevada, are powered by renewable wind energy; all boxes and packaging are made from recycled paper, and are recyclable. This even includes the tape holding the packages together—it’s made out of paper. Everything in your box should be able to go straight into your recycling bin.
It gives back
Through the company’s Thrive Gives program, every paid membership sponsors a free one for a low-income family, student, teacher, veteran, or first responder. And every time you check out, you have the option to donate a portion of your retail savings to people suffering financial hardships due to COVID-19. Since 2015, Thrive members have donated over $1.5 million at checkout.
So is all this to say there are no cons for Thrive Market? Of course not. I would love to see more variety in meat and seafood options that doesn’t require the purchase of a large box. Occasional items require that you purchase two of them (for example, the coconut milk cans and the lentil chips). Despite the obvious care taken to wrap cans and bottles, I’ve received a few badly dented cans in the past. Fortunately, customer service is very responsive and I’m always given credit for the damaged items (the company prefers not to ship out and replace single items, for environmental reasons).
But for what we use Thrive for—to keep those pantry staples and snack foods coming, to find better prices for healthier items, delivered to our doorstep—we love it. Our kids always cheer when they see the box at our door—and I breathe a sigh of relief.
Got questions about Thrive Market? Ask away in the comments. And if you want to try it for a month or a year, you can choose a free gift, up to $24 in value, when you join today here! (Don’t miss our list of Thrive Market must-buys to get you started.)