For the casual consumer, Misfits Market may conjure images of misshapen citrus or funny-looking tomatoes. That’s because the brand made its name in the online grocery delivery game selling cheap produce that’s been deemed “aesthetically unfit” for supermarket shelves. Of late, Misfits has evolved and these days, the New Jersey-based company is vying to be your go-to source for all things grocery. For convenience-minded consumers, there are a number of online delivery-based grocery platforms to choose from — Amazon Fresh, Hungryroot and Instacart to name a few — when you’re looking to save precious time each week while still having resources on hand to feed yourself at home. We’re on a mission to test all of them to suss the cheapest, fastest and best online grocery subscriptions for 2023.
I recently tried Misfits Market, an online grocer with no membership fees that aims to rescue foodstuffs bound for “lesser outcomes,” (translation: compost or the trash) and pass savings on to you, the consumer. My experience is that this is an excellent service that provides a good variety of products, as well as transparency as to the condition of those products, at prices that feel easy on the wallet.
Here’s everything you need to know about Misfits Market, in order to determine if the service is a good fit for you.
Misfits Market at a glance
- Service: Online grocery delivery with either subscription or flex plan membership options.
- Products: A rotating, weekly selection of about 700 products from a variety of grocery categories, with indicators that help the consumer understand the quality/variability of the products offered.
- Regional availability: Continental US
- Cost and pricing: There are no membership fees for either the flex plan or grocery subscription. You pay for only what you purchase. Items are dynamically priced, with a claim to be up to 40% lower than traditional grocery store prices. Shipping is a flat rate per week, starting at $6, depending on location or free when purchase minimums are met.
What is Misfits Market?
Misfits Market is a weekly, direct-to-consumer online grocery service that delivers lower cost, high-quality produce, pantry staples, dairy products, meats/proteins and other assorted grocery items. Its inventory is sourced from farmers and food manufacturers directly in order to rescue items that would otherwise be destined for waste for a variety of reasons (more on that below) to pass on significant savings to the consumer and to provide access to higher quality products for food-insecure households in the US. Misfits Market also recently acquired Imperfect Foods, a similarly minded grocery delivery platform, in order to expand its reach and deliver a more sustainable grocery experience.
How does Misfits Market work?
Choosing a plan: Flex or subscription
Misfits Market offers two tiers for participation, a flex plan that requires you to make individual selections on a weekly basis, (or however frequently you want to use the service) or a grocery subscription, which curates a cart for you based not only on popular and seasonally available items but also with items you tend to purchase regularly. (The longer you stay with the service, the smarter the curation gets for your weekly delivery.)
Whether you opt-in for the flex plan or the grocery subscription, each week you have a three-day shopping window in which to organize your shopping cart, either by adding items if you’re a flex customer or by adjusting items in the pre-populated subscription cart. At the end of the three-day shopping window, you’re automatically charged for what’s in the cart. Orders are charged and shipped so long as there is at least $15 worth of groceries in your cart.
Shipping and delivery
Shipments are available only on certain days of the week, depending on your location, in order to reduce the carbon footprint, a move I admire. Your shopping window occurs about three to five days prior to your delivery date.
Items are delivered on your designated day with eco-conscious packaging, as well as a service that picks up and reuses or recycles certain types of packaging materials.
Transparence of products
The core value at the heart of Misfits Market’s operation is gaining access to foodstuffs, especially produce, that never gets harvested in the first place based on superficial values when it comes to product aesthetics. You needn’t worry that you’ll end up with things you simply can’t use, however, no matter your recipe plans for them. The website clearly indicates for almost every item why it’s available.
For produce, common issues include odd shapes, too large or too small selections, discoloration or uneven coloring, or simply because there’s a surplus. For packaged products, items may be labeled as excess inventory, out-of-date packaging, (i.e. a brand has a new look but still has inventory to move with the original look,) or “short-dated,” meaning goods that are stamped with a “best by” date that’s fewer than six weeks from the date of purchase.
Indeed, all of these issues seem superficial when given the quality of the products and especially the freshness of produce, which arrives from the source farm to you more quickly than it would given traditional grocery distribution channels. My produce was exactly as advertised, with some discoloration in citrus fruits and a few avocados on the small side, but all was still of excellent quality.
Organizing your delivery box and shopping window
For grocery subscription members, each week your cart is already populated with items that are seasonally available or have historical popularity, plus items that you typically purchase from week to week. The standard subscription box will typically contain between $55 and $65 worth of groceries, but you’re welcome to adjust amounts of each item, or the items themselves, in order to assemble a box that works best for your meal plans. Or you can simply leave it be if you’re the kind of shopper who enjoys the seasonal, almost community supported agriculture approach to using up whatever is delivered. Flex members are simply assembling an order from scratch each week.
Finding specific products is easy, either by browsing typical grocery categories or by searching for those specific products. The relatively limited inventory means that even just browsing through each category isn’t all that time-consuming. Because the inventory isn’t expansive, however, (more on that below,) it’s sometimes possible to come up empty-handed for a particular product.
It’s also worth noting that, because the inventory changes from week to week, sometimes significantly, you don’t have access to the inventory outside of your three-day shopping window. While this is plenty of time to make shopping decisions, it might be a drawback if you’re trying to plan a little further out for a dinner party, for example. Also if you don’t stay on top of the online subscription, you’ll get a box every week unless you’re proactive about skipping a week. The flex option makes it easier to manage on that score, however, and only populate your cart with items when you need them.
Inventory is somewhat limited but highly value-driven
Misfits Market isn’t one-stop shopping. While it does have inventory in just about every grocery category, making it easier to use than some platforms that mostly offer packaged or freezer items, pantry items on Misfits Market are relatively limited. This comes down to its core value, however, which they are perfectly clear about. They’re trying to reduce food waste, and in order to do that, it’s imperative to keep a small stock that consists only of things that need to move quickly. It isn’t designed to appeal to a variety of speciality diets, only to appeal to consumers whose core value matches theirs.
Having recently reviewed Thrive Market, it seems as though these two platforms would be highly companionable for consumers looking for a wider variety of pantry items or to be able to search by specific diets, (Thrive) but also the ability to order high-quality, low-cost fresh produce and dairy (Misfits).
Misfits Market cost: No subscription fee and free shipping on orders over $60
One of Misfit Market’s biggest selling points for me is that there’s no subscription cost for either program and the shipping cost is surprisingly low, especially given the wide variety of fresh, refrigerated, frozen and shelf-stable products they deliver in a single shipment. Shipping is also free for either the flex or subscription program with a $60 purchase — a very reasonable minimum even if you’re shopping for a small household. If you’re someone who can stay on top of managing your cart from week to week, there’s basically no financial downside in joining.
Misfits Market doesn’t have a low-cost guarantee like Thrive Market but claims to offer groceries with a discount of up to 40% of conventional retailers. The prices are certainly competitive, and a quick comparison via Instacart of products available in my region — Queens, NYC — showed that all of Misfit Market’s groceries were either the same or less than what I’d get from a local store.
You also receive perks by utilizing the service: one point for every dollar spent in the flex program, or two points for every dollar spent in the subscription plan, which are redeemable for freebies and gifts within the platform.
Who is Misfits Market good for?
Misfits Market is especially good for consumers who like seasonally available, organic produce at competitive prices and whose consumer values align with wanting to reduce waste in the food system.
Who is Misfits Market not good for?
Those who are looking for an online grocer that offers an extensive inventory, or who are brand-loyal when it comes to staples, or need to follow specialty diets may be disappointed with the selection. If you are aesthetic-driven when it comes to produce, or if you really prefer the satisfaction of selecting your own produce in person, Misfits Market might not be for you.
Final verdict on Misfits Market
Misfits Market is very clear about its singular purpose — providing affordable access to quality foodstuffs that might otherwise be destined for the trash — and delivers exceptionally well on that promise with no financial risk to opt in to try it out. While the inventory isn’t extensive, the weekly rotation of the inventory makes it a viable and financially sound online option for a variety of groceries. If you’re looking for the convenience factor of an online grocery-shopping system with relatively low weekly maintenance, with a built-in feel-good factor that helps reduce food waste, Misfits Market is a worthy option.
For more ways to bypass the supermarket queue, see our full list of the 8 best grocery delivery services for 2023, the best meat box subscriptions and the best places to buy specialty food items online.