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What foods do you order online?

I don't think I've ever bought ingredients online other than a bottle of avocado oil and some granola bars. I'm wary of perishables traveling by mail, but would like to explore opportunities for savings just the same. Some items make sense to me; the cured, the canned, etc...others I'm on the fence about. My two biggest grocery expenditures are probably on seafood and produce - surprise, the most perishable items one can eat. Just the same, I'd appreciate any anecdotes of success purchasing these or more durable suspects online.

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  1. I buy most of my meat online.

    I can get most other speciality foods locally but, for ease, occasionally buy spice mixes, certain chutnies and pickles and apple juice.

    1. I buy all of my spices online. The quality is far superior to supermarket spices, and I find it to be much less expensive. I use worldspice.com, but I know a lot of people who use Penzey's as well.

      1. I buy artisanal cheeses online, because there are cheeses I want that I can't get locally. A top-quality store with a mail-order operation will use cold packs and other means to preserve the cheese during transit. For this and other perishables, I prefer to buy from places that are no more than a day or two away by ground shipping to avoid having to request expensive overnight air delivery. I also order herbs and spices online from Penzeys.

        1. I order Mexican ingredients such as chiles and mole pastes from mexgrocer.com. I also order teas, jams, and Caribbean spices from sunnycaribee.com

          1. Canned wild sockeye salmon (vitalchoice.com)
            Chef Paul Prudohomme's pasta & pizza magic because I can't find it locally
            Truffles ( only I haven't ordered them yet) for the same reason
            Produce from Bountiful Baskets every other week usually

            Otherwise we're pretty blessed with the availability of edibles, for not being in a major metropolis.

            1. Sour cherry concentrate from King Orchards. Makes very nice juice and fills a hole when sour cherries are out of season.

              1. I order most of my groceries online through Stop & Shop's Peapod program. I also recently ordered a case of canned pumpkin a few months back when there was a serious shortage in my neighborhood.

                1. I just placed a huge order with Wild Seattle Seafood that will be delivered here in Indiana tomorrow: King Salmon (probably the last of the season), halibut, spot prawns, and 2 cooked and cleaned Dungeness crabs for dinner tomorrow. It will arrive, as always, in pristine condition, cut to my specifications, and ready to go into the freezer to tide us over the winter.

                  1. I order herbs, spices & extracts online and any other item specific item needed that I can't find in my neck of the woods.

                    1. I ive in the middle of frickin' no where and if I didn't order online, we'd die of boredom. I've ordered--with great results in nearly every case--gourmet cheeses (I-Gourmet and Di Bruno Brothers) bacon (Nueskes) country hams (Edwards of VA and one in Missouri) big tubs of feta cheese from a Middle Eastern outfit, olive oil, olives, condiments of every imaginable kind, lobsters, soft-shelled blue crabs, rices, wines, vinegars, salamis and sopressata, organic lollipops, organic breakfast cereals, grits in 25# bags <g>, Taste of India ready-to-eat meals, hot sauces, heirloom beans (Rancho Gordo), 5# boxes of walnuts and pinon nuts, 10# boxes of pecans (Ellie Bros. of GA), the list goes on and on ....

                      I cannot think of a SINGLE TIME I've been disappointed with a mail-order food stuff. Ever. Say that about most things you mail order. ;-)

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Beckyleach

                        Who do you order your soft shells from?

                          1. re: blkery

                            A place called....damn! I can't remember, exactly. Chesapeake Something Or Other. I tossed the most recent catalog just because they weren't on our radar for any time soon. They were quite good, even though flash-frozen. NOT freshly pulled from the water good, by any stretch (and I've had plenty of those!) but good enough that a land-locked bunch of Iowans who grew up by the ocean were happy to have them for Christmas Eve dinner.

                            Oh, here it is: http://www.cbcrabcakes.com/gourmet/Ch...

                            We tried broiling some, at first, and they were just too watery. But lightly battered and seasoned with a bit of Old Bay, and fried with a gentle hand (it was close to a tempura batter) they almost made us believe we were sitting dockside on the Outer Banks.

                      2. Being raised in the Arctic I was accustomed to ordering "online" (ie. Canada Post) so switching to true online was natural. In the old days it would take a catalogue, a letter placing the order with a money order attached (we had no long distance phone service in those days in the tiny Inuit community in which I lived) and a month or two waiting for the mail to arrive, but it worked. These days I get products in a day or two often frozen!

                        I order oil from Italy, bacon from the US, honey from Pitcairn Island. I order spices. I have ordered those wonderful pears from Harry and David yearly. I search the web for interesting things I can't get locally (and I support local where it is available). We have what we call "crazy food nights" in which a year's online ordering new and strange food comes to a head. We look locally for new fruits and things we would not noramally try as an entree (like duck tongues), pile in dad's crazy collection of online product and we have fun (complete with the ornate "spit bucket" for the truly unpalatable).

                        I cannot think of one bad online food purchase experience. I get meat still frozen from across the border and I have found customer service much better than I can get locally in many cases. Shippers are careful to not ship certain products in a heat wave etc. I have one observation: online cross border shopping can be brutally expensive for shipping and one criticism: too many shippers refuse to ship outside the US. Those I have convinced to do so as a trial always remark after the fact that they failed to understand how easy it is to ship to Canada. It is often the bigger online merchants who refuse to ship beyond thier horizon which is a real shame.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: foodiesnorth

                          As someone also marooned north of the border I'm curious about your shipping experiences. I know that if you ship anything but USPS you get hit with high brokerage charges on top of shipping and taxes. Which places have you had good experiences with and what sort of charges were there for shipping, brokerage, taxes, etc.?

                          1. re: CookatHomeinLondon

                            When I order online cross border I just close my eyes to the border costs. They are very high. All I can do is order large amounts as the shipping costs are not directly reflective of the amount ordered. For example the cost of shipping in $200 worth of product us nowhere near ten times the cost of $20 of product. Honestly I have no clue what I pay for shipping and taxes as often the two are not costed together. I often get a UPS invoice a month or more after the product gets to my house. I order that which I cannot get in Canada and/or the very best of things. I don't know if that helps. If the shipping costs are a concern, you should not order across the border in my experience

                            1. re: foodiesnorth

                              I order a lot of things from the U.S. (though it's always been non-perishable items), but since I'm just an hour away from Port Huron, MI, I typically pick it up myself, which eliminates the brokerage fees, greatly reduces and sometimes eliminates the shipping fees. There's actually a UPS depot (not retail store) that accepts UPS packages for free for me and holds them one week, I also have a friend there for smaller stuff and an in-home packaging service for non-UPS.

                              UPS once tried to charge me $50 brokerage for a small package of free checks from an American bank. I still arrange for small items shipped US postal service, which doesn't charge brokerage fees, but I avoid UPS for cross-border shipping.

                              Maybe we should arrange a group of like-minded foodies to buy in bulk and take turns making the drive across the border. A cross-border co-op.

                        2. World Spice for whole spice, blends & loose tea
                          PennMac for cheeses & pizza supplies
                          Vanilla Saffron Imports for whole bean vanilla & saffron
                          Adagio Teas for Rooibos teas
                          Flutter Nut Butter for nut butters, food gifts
                          Green Mountain Coffee for Pumpkin Spice Whole Beans
                          and nearly a dozen chocolate companies for various bars and baking supplies
                          Dozens of companies for honey, nuts, specialty ingredients and food exploration!

                          Never, ever had a problem ordering online and return policies are always to my liking.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: HillJ

                            Hatch chiles, kolbasi from Polana.

                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                              A second to Hatch Chiles. I can, however, find Polich delicasies in NJ, but not Country Ham. The latter I have successfully order on three occassions. (Is Polana a step of from European Provisions, Pass?)

                          2. Teas, for sure. There are gazillions of different teas, and you get to know the online vendors who have good taste, good estate connections, and good reputations. Some even specialize in one area: Taiwan tea, African tea, puer tea, etc.

                            1. I would have to say spices and coffee/tea. Especially ethnic specifics. I often find that online stores not only have a better price but often are fresher than most my local ethnic markets.