Writer Lisa Haynes on the revelation that you can skip the supermarket and order in dinner from your sofa. And nope, it’s not a takeaway…
I have a confession. I’m a lazy food shopper.
I know what I like, how long it takes to prep (I’m no Nigella, so 10 minutes is my max) and, above all, I want a speedy transition to the dinner table before I start to get hangry.
I’m also a pescatarian, which means I can reel off the exact number of meat-free options available at my (tiny) local supermarket on one hand.
Factor in a chaotic work life in which my schedule changes from one week to the next, and I’m often stuck in culinary limbo between ‘the big shop’ (too much forward-planning) and the takeaway life (let’s be honest, not so good for you).
Enter Ocado Zoom, a new food delivery service promising to deliver a choice of 10,000 groceries to my door in under 60 minutes, with a minimum spend of just £15 and half-hourly delivery slots from just £1.99 – pretty much a tailor-made solution to my dinnertime dilemma.
It’s currently only available in certain West London postcodes (though they are looking to expand across London), but thankfully I made the Zoom cut and with a 20% discount for Stylist readers, I decided to take it on a week-long test drive.
Did it shake up my eating habits for the better? Absolutely. Here’s how it played out…
1. I ate healthier
When you’re low on time, eating healthily tends to slip down the list of priorities.
So when a meeting runs late and I go from my desk to a very empty fridge, I’m perilously close to accepting defeat and ordering a pizza.
However, a quick skim through the Lighter Meals section of the Ocado Zoom app reveals a huge choice of options, all of which could potentially land on my doorstep in under an hour.
Everything is super-easy to find – a major bonus when you’re in a rush – and I soon spot a BOL Fire Roasted Cauli-Tikka Masala dinner box that fits the bill.
Feeling like I’m on a roll, I add some toiletries I was running low on and fresh veggies to my order so I can knock together a simple salad for my lunch the next day.
Only 50 minutes later, my delivery arrived in a cute, environmentally-friendly paper bag, and I’ve swerved not one but two unhealthy meals.
It’s safe to say my new app and I were off to a flying start.
2. I cooked more, in less time
As envious as I am of the organisational skills that allow certain people to plan out an entire week’s menu in a single weekend shop, I am not one of those people.
It’s a shame, as I genuinely love cooking – it’s just the forward-planning I struggle with.
Not only that, but a slog round the supermarket is hardly a recipe for culinary inspo.
However, on Ocado Zoom, I’m able to work out what I feel like making and order in the necessary ingredients while I’m on the go, all at the touch of the button.
I timed my delivery to arrive home shortly after I did, meaning I could whip up something quick, fresh and tasty and still have time to settle in for some Netflix.
3. It took the stress out of hosting
A diary blunder means that I somehow forget I’m hosting my friend for dinner in the garden – ah, good – in approximately two-and-a-half hours.
Instead of a) panicking b) calling it off, or c) having a meltdown, I take option d) Ocado Zoom.
The ‘Meals for 2’ tab makes it easy for me to pick out a dinner we’d both love with zero stress, and so I settle on a delicious seafood paella.
I also take advantage of the genius ‘Delivered Chilled’ option, which allows you to order a bottle of fridge-temperature wine to go with your food.
Dinner is salvaged and crucially, so is my status as a non-flaky friend – a genuine lifesaver.
4. I saved money
On a Friday night, the lure of the takeaway is very real.
At the end of a long week I’m tired, hungry and nursing a serious craving for something spicy.
But instead of dialling up the nearest curry house, I pop up the Ocado Zoom app on my train ride home and order M&S’ Sri Lankan King Prawn Curry – think juicy prawns in a warming coconut sauce.
At £4.50 it’s a fraction of the price of a takeaway, and so I use the money I’ve saved to stock up on brunch goodies for the next morning, taking me up to the £15 minimum order and ensuring a lie-in into the bargain.
My order lands about five minutes after I’ve wound down and got into my comfies and my curry is on the dinner table 10 minutes later, all without blowing my budget. Bliss.
They say it takes 20-something days to solidify a new habit, but this one has taken me five and I don’t think it will be going anywhere soon.