Are you an extra busy person who doesn’t have the time to go out and browse through supermarket aisles? Don’t settle for cup noodles because we’ve got a lineup of some of the best alternatives to having delicious food without stepping out your door.
Grocery shopping tips and tricks for very busy people in Japan
Options for the busy home kitchen chef
If you’re like me, who loves making fresh pasta and Ragu Bolognese that take hours to simmer but don’t have a lot of extra time to actually go out and do grocery shopping, then let me share a recent discovery called Amazon Fresh (among other options). I took the plunge and overcame my doubts regarding purchasing fresh produce online. Guess what? The platform didn’t disappoint!
Amazon also lets you set up your account for repeat purchases, meaning you end up saving more by scheduling that box of beer to be delivered every month, for example. This way, you won’t ever run out of a particular item because Amazon handles the purchasing for you. I have to say, my Amazon Prime subscription never goes to waste because you can really buy almost everything from Amazon, from rice and food essentials to home cleaning materials.
Try Costco if you can’t find a specific ingredient or item on Amazon, try Costco. This massive wholesale store has an ongoing campaign just for online purchases. You can maximize the savings on bulk purchases without going to the warehouse. Tokyoites also have Enoteca for wine, National Azabu as an excellent alternative to Amazon Fresh, Nissin World Delicatessen Net Super for cold cuts, cheese, and more, and The Meat Guy for meats. Wanna try kangaroo or crocodile meat? They have it.
You can even find Halal online stores now, such as Halal Deli (includes lunch delivery services and different languages), Kobe Halal Food (includes Indonesian, Indian, Pakistani, Tunisian, Turkish, and African cuisines), or Halal Said Shop, which delivers nationwide.
Thanks to the Internet, you don’t need to get dressed for a grocery trip, which is extra annoying during rainy days. You can also head home straight from work and just click away at the comfort of your sofa.
Online grocery shopping for quick and easy recipes
If you don’t have much time (or skills) to prepare anything, your best bet is subscription services. You pick a provider, and the food is delivered to your door (some might need minimal preparation).
Meal kits and subscription services are all about convenience. First off, you don’t need to get lost understanding the portions because you get everything you need and how much of a particular ingredient is required. You basically just exert the same effort as when preparing cup noodles.
Plus, with the increased push to stay indoors due to the coronavirus pandemic, companies that offer these services are now more readily accessible to those who don’t speak Japanese. And even if a site is only in Japanese, there’s automatic Google translate which turns any page into your desired language!
Some of the best, tried-and-trusted brands for meal kits are Oisix, PAL system, and Coop Deli. These are on the cheap side regarding food costs.
|Name||Membership fee||Delivery options||Delivery Fee|
|Oisix||None||All week, morning–9:00 pm||Free|
|PAL System||¥1,000 (refundable upon exit)||Fixed days||¥162|
|Coop Deli||¥1,000 (refundable upon exit)||Fixed days||Free|
Most of the recipes of the meal kits from the list above are catered to the Japanese/Asian diet, so you might be looking to change it up on some days. For example, Union Square Tokyo offers all-American cuisine such as burgers and smoked steaks. It’s about ¥4,800 for two, and you’ll receive everything you need for the meal.
For a Mexican twist, try Los Tacos Azules’ Survival Taco Kit, which includes fresh tortillas, salsa, tamales, soup, fillings, dessert, and drinks good for four people for ¥9,800. They change the menu periodically to keep you hooked. As mentioned earlier, even the food and beverage industry is striving to go digital, so a quick search of the cuisine you’re craving for, the location in Tokyo, and you can discover multiple online shops to try.
Try subscription meal services
Now, if you’re after something more consistent, perhaps meals that are guaranteed healthy and within your dietary restrictions, then a subscription would suit your expectations. They are delivered to you on a schedule, meaning you will have ready-to-eat meals (frozen then reheated) at your preferred time. Names such as Fit Food Home and Chef Box are great for full meals that meet your calorie intake and palate. Subscription boxes also extend to sweets and snacks like Wowbox.
Unlike other countries with a handful of subscription companies per product, the Japanese market for this service is less congested. This means you won’t be overwhelmed with the options and can easily pick out the most fitting for your needs. High standards and quality are also upheld.
The main catch with these services is the price. They are definitely on the more expensive side. You will need to consider the frequency of delivery to make the most out of your subscription. For items like milk or tissue paper, you can easily decide to make this a recurring buy on Amazon Fresh. It might take some time to test and taste the other offerings, but it won’t take long before you can make a well-informed decision.
Hopefully, the choices we mentioned above start you off in the right direction, and here’s to more convenient and efficient grocery shopping!