The world of grocery delivery is growing. Once dominated by services like Instacart and Shipt, other services are starting to enter the game with their own unique value.
One of those grocery delivery services is Imperfect Foods. However, Imperfect Foods is a little different. They didn’t start out as a traditional grocery delivery service. You may know them by their old name, “Imperfect Produce”, a company that sold “ugly” fruits and vegetables.
We’ve tried both Imperfect Produce and the newly branded Imperfect Foods over the past few years.
If you’re considering this grocery delivery service for yourself, this is the review you're going to want to read...
About Imperfect Foods
Food waste is a huge issue. The USDA estimates that 30% to 40% of the food supply in America is wasted. To put it in perspective, that would mean $161 billion worth of food in 2010 was completely thrown away.
Much of that food enters landfills, taking up unnecessary space. What’s even worse is the amount of environmental resources (such as water and fertilizer) that went into making that food is completely wasted too. This makes the entire process not just a waste but harmful environmentally too.
One of the biggest ways that food gets wasted is at the end of the food supply chain. It’s estimated that 80% of food waste each year comes from consumers at homes, businesses and restaurants. One of the key reasons is because this food doesn’t meet our high cosmetic standards—a slight blemish, a weird bend, too small, or too big. Much of the produce you see in grocery stores has been meticulously picked as “the best”, whereas the ugly ones either don’t even make to the grocery store floor or they never get picked by shoppers.
The founders of Imperfect Foods, Ben Simon and Benjamin Chesler, saw how wasteful the food supply system was back in 2015, especially when it came to “ugly” foods. They decided to start a produce delivery service to tackle the problem by purchasing all of the imperfect produce that would have never even made it to grocery stores and sell it directly to customers at a discount.
Since then, the ugly produce movement has involved to include many other services (like Misfits Market) and Imperfect Foods has shifted their focus from purely produce to a one-stop-shop grocery delivery service.
What Constitutes “Imperfect” Or “Ugly” Produce?
When I first encountered these ugly produce services, my first reaction was, “Why would I buy messed up food?”
Well, the produce Imperfect Foods sends isn’t necessarily bad, it just has some minor defects that make them look different from the produce we usually see at grocery stores.
Here are the type of produce defects we’ve encountered since using Imperfect Foods:
- Vegetables with blemishes or scars on the outside.
- Strangely shaped fruits and vegetables, such as a weird bend in a carrot or a divot in a potato.
- Very big and very small produce. We’ve seen some huge carrots and some small strawberries.
What’s interesting though is that the majority of the produce we receive actually looks quite normal, like that potato above. This is because Imperfect Foods also purchases produce that are surplus inventory and undervalued (meaning the produce has lower demand at the time). So it won't look odd at all, it's simply that the supplier would have had a hard time selling it otherwise or it would have just gone to waste regardless.
How Imperfect Foods Works
Getting started with Imperfect Foods is pretty straightforward. The signup process begins with a few questions to understand your food preferences:
- How many eaters are in your household?
- What are your dietary preferences?
- What types of produce do you purchase? (Organic or regular)
- What meals do you eat? (Breakfast, lunch, and dinner)
What they then do with this information is create a custom grocery plan for you and recommend specific categories of foods.
For example, when I filled out the intro survey, they customized my plan to include organic produce, plant-based foods, snacks, meats/fish, and grains. This means that each week they will add those items to my box. That being said, you’re not forced to purchase those foods. Imperfect Foods is very customizable, which is one of the main reasons I enjoy their grocery delivery service.
One of this issues I originally had with Imperfect Foods is them filling my box with some items I didn’t really prefer. For example, I’m not a big fish person. They included a cool little remedy for situations like this. You can include certain items in their “never” list, which means they will not include those items in your box or recommend them to you.
On this flip side, let’s say you need a specific item every week in your box. You can add it to your “recurring” items list. For example, we always eat blueberries, strawberries, and spinach. Since I know we frequently go through them and always order them, I’ve added all three to our recurring list and now I don’t have to hunt them down and add them to my box every week.
These two features may seem small but I found they make the process of grocery shopping much simpler overall since it cuts down on wasted time looking through items and adding items to your box.
How Pricing Works
While Imperfect Foods is a subscription food box, their plans and pricing don’t work the same way as a meal delivery service does.
With Imperfect Produce you tell them how many people you need food for and which categories of food you prefer to receive each week. They then break down the food categories and amounts for your specific plan. Here’s a look at the grocery plan they created for Emily and I along with an estimate of how much each would cost on a weekly basis:
Be aware that the prices are just an estimate in your grocery plan. The amount you actually pay will depend on the price of the items you (or they) add to your box.
I found this to be pretty confusing when I initially signed up for Imperfect Foods since I wasn’t sure what exactly I was paying for. The good news is they don’t charge you at checkout, only when you actually order your first box.
One thing to note though is there is a minimum spend of $45 and the delivery fee is $7.99.
The Variety Of Food They Offer
One big issue I have with Imperfect Foods is that they don’t show you the specific products they sell. Yes, they have a “Products We Sell” page here but they don’t tell you much beyond the categories of food they sell (such as fruits, vegetables, meat, fish).
Another pretty big issue is that even when you sign up and check out, you still cannot see what specific items they sell. This is because they make you wait each week until the store “opens” and you can add items to your cart.
Here’s a look at some of the different types of food they offer and a little later on we’ll go over the specific items we received in our most recent box.
Fruits (Regular & Organic)
- Multiple varieties of apples
Vegetables (Regular & Organic)
- Bell peppers
Meats & Fish
- Grass-fed ground beef
- Heritage and pasture-raised chicken
- Variety of “Impossible” foods such as their plant-based burger
- Plant-based chicken
- Oat milk
Milk & Dairy
- Cage-free and pasture raised eggs
- Cheese (a wide variety including goat cheese, cheddar, American, and more)
Other Pantry Essentials
- Wide variety of pastas (penne, spaghetti, and more)
- Breads such as white, sourdough, and even pizza crusts
Snacks & Desserts
- Trail mix
- Dried fruits (the mangos are delicious)
About half of the items that Imperfect Foods offers fall under their own brand. So, you’ll see Imperfect Foods branded snacks, cheese, and even meat.
They’ve also recently expanded into cleaning, bathroom, and beauty essentials such as shampoo, lotions, and soaps. Most of these items are also under the Imperfect Foods brand.
Food Box HQ Note: This is not an extensive list of the specific items that Imperfect Foods offers. We just wanted to include examples of popular specific items since Imperfect Foods does not list them out on their website. They also offer more seasonal foods and items (for example, squash).
What We Received In Our Recent Box (Taste & Quality)
Now let’s take a look at what we received in our recent box…
- Movie Theater-Style Popcorn: This is surprisingly ingenious. Imperfect Foods purchased movie theater popcorn from theaters that weren’t running because of the 2020 lockdown and packaged it to resell. So it literally is “movie style” popcorn and it tastes like it as well. I’d recommend adding some salt and butter for a more authentic (and delicious) taste.
- Organic Chocolate & Almond Crisp Granola: These surprised me. I’m generally picky about the granola I like (I’m a loyalist to Trader Joe’s ancient grains granola) but these were delicious. I found myself adding them to yogurt for a mid-day snack. Since they have organic chocolate and almonds, it was a nice little energy booster.
- Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies: While Emily loves kraft mac and cheese, I tend to prefer the organic and healthier options like Annie’s. These “bunnies” might be made for kids but they’re my guilty pleasure.
- Cento Crushed Tomatoes: We added this to our box to make the meal you see in the video review above. These are a pantry staple for us because they’re so versatile, can be used in a lot of different dishes, and they last a while since they’re canned.
- Broccoli: This organic broccoli was by no means “ugly”, it looked pretty normal to me other than the normal random scuffs on the stalk. The taste was also exactly what I would expect from grocery store organic broccoli—nothing out of the ordinary here.
- Potatoes: Like the broccoli, the potatoes really had no issues. They looked like everyday, normal potatoes.
- Green Bell Peppers: These were really the only vegetables that I would consider “imperfect”. One of the bell peppers had a little soft spot or bruise in it. However, if you didn’t tell me, I wouldn’t have even known because the taste was unaffected.
- Carrots: Other than being a bit dirty on the outside, the carrots were pretty standard in terms of size and taste.
- Gnocchi: This was what we used to make the dish in the review video above and it came out so good. I’ve never used Anna brand gnocchi before but it had a great texture and taste, and went well with our little meal concoction.
- Grass-Fed Ground Beef: I was a little hesitant to try “imperfect” meat when I saw that Imperfect Foods started selling it. That being said, their grass-fed beef is delicious and tastes identical to the Trader Joe’s 85% lean version we often pick up. That being said, one thing that took me off guard when looking at the packaging was the fact that they don’t list the best by or expiration date. Instead, the package just says to use within 7 days of thawing. The issue with this is that the beef already comes thawed (not frozen but refrigerated temperature). I really wish that they would either send the meat frozen or put a best by date so I don’t accidentally eat spoiled meat and get sick.
- Uncured Bacon: This is Coleman Natural bacon and is pretty high quality—no antibiotics, no hormones, vegetarian fed pork, and no sugar added. Of course, I forgot to add eggs to our box this time so I'll have to wait to enjoy these for breakfast.
- Blueberries: These came and needed another day to properly ripen but after that they were delicious and pretty standard compared to the organic blueberries we usually get at the grocery store.
- Spinach: This spinach came pre-bagged and also had zero issues. Taste-wise, it was exactly what I expect from our grocery store brand.
Since Imperfect Foods now has enough items to turn it into a full grocery delivery service, we decided to make a meal in addition to our usual individual product taste test and quality overview.
We decided to make a beef bolognese with the grass-fed ground beef, potato gnocchi, cento crushed tomatoes, and peppers. We also added a few items (such as onions) we had from a previous Misfits Market box.
Even though this was not a traditional beef bolognese, it still came out incredibly good. The gnocchi (my personal favorite pasta alternative) actually soaked up a lot of the sauce, making each bite perfectly juicy and full of flavor.
Imperfect Foods vs. Our Grocery Store (Price Comparison)
One of the biggest questions I see surrounding grocery delivery like Imperfect Foods is, “Does it provide a good value or is it more of a luxury service?”
The best way to answer this question is by comparing how much we spent on our Imperfect Foods box versus what we would have paid at the grocery store. Below you’ll find how much each item in our Imperfect Foods box cost and below that you’ll find the same list with the amount they cost at our local grocery store. FYI, some items I couldn’t find on Instacart so I searched both Amazon and Whole Foods too.
Imperfect Foods Cost
- Movie Theater-Style Popcorn (32 oz) — $1.99
- Organic Chocolate & Almond Crisp Granola — $3.99
- Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies — $4.99
- Cento Crushed Tomatoes (28 oz) — $1.99
- Organic Broccoli (1 ct) — $3.50
- Organic Green Bell Peppers (2) — $1.98
- Carrots (1 lb) — $1.25
- Anna Potato Gnocchi (17.6 oz) — $1.99
- Grass-Fed Ground Beef (85% lean, 1 lb) — $6.49
- Coleman Naturals Uncured Bacon (12 oz) — $5.99
- Organic Blueberries (0.5 pt) — $3.99
- Organic Baby Spinach (1 pack) — $3.99
Grocery Store Price (via Instacart)
- Movie Theater-Style Popcorn (32 oz) — $4.40 (via Instacart)
- Organic Chocolate & Almond Crisp Granola — $5.19 (via Instacart)
- Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies — $3.59 (via Whole Foods)
- Cento Crushed Tomatoes (28 oz) — $3.48 (via Whole Foods)
- Organic Broccoli (1 ct) — $4.09 (via Instacart)
- Organic Green Bell Peppers (2) — $4.58 (via Instacart)
- Organic Carrots (1 lb) — $1.79 (via Instacart)
- Anna Potato Gnocchi (17.6 oz) — $2.99 (via Whole Foods)
- Grass-Fed Ground Beef (85% lean, 1 lb) — $7.59 (via Instacart)
- Coleman Naturals Uncured Bacon (12 oz) — $7.49 (via Instacart)
- Organic Blueberries (0.5 pt) — $6.89 (via Instacart)
- Organic Baby Spinach (1 pack) — $3.09
Food Box HQ Note: Because Imperfect Foods has their own brand that cannot be purchased elsewhere, I had to compare it to similar brands at my local grocery stores.
As you can see above, the items are pretty similarly priced. There are a few instances where some Imperfect Foods items cost more and other instances where they cost less. All in all, on a per-item basis, I would say that it’s pretty similar to what the grocery store prices their foods at. However, do note that Imperfect Foods always charges a $7.99 shipping fee no matter what size your order is.
Delivery & Packaging
All of our boxes have made it to our doorstep within a day of the order being confirmed. The courier who delivers your box is going to vary by location but all of our boxes have been delivered by Fedex. Knock on wood, we’ve never had any issues with delivery.
In terms of packaging, Imperfect Foods does a good job of keeping everything in the box pretty safe while in transit. I say “pretty safe” because we’re dealing with individual fruits and vegetables packed in a box and they are not all individually wrapped, so there may be some bumps that cause the produce to get bruised.
Within the box they insulate everything with paper and vegetable starch. It’s curbside recyclable. For foods that need to be kept cold, they use a polyethylene insulated liner. This one is a bit harder to recycle. But the good news is that Imperfect Foods has a partnership with Recyclops to collect the liners. You can simply go into your account and select “Check My Address” under the recycle tab to see how they can collect your polyethylene insulated liner.
As for the ice packs, they can be drained into the trash, washed out, and the plastic liner can be put with #4 recyclable plastics.
Imperfect Foods vs. Community Supported Agriculture
Community Supported Agriculture or “CSA’s” are produce boxes from your local farmers. They’ve been around for a long time and are basically where the idea of “ugly” produce boxes originated from.
If you only need produce and you’re looking to support your local community of farmers, definitely check out what your local CSA offers here. Often times they’re even better priced than many of the popular (and well marketed) produce delivery services around. In my case, where we live we can't get a CSA produce box delivered so we rely on produce boxes like Imperfect Foods and Misfits Market.
Imperfect Foods vs. Misfits Market
While Imperfect Foods and Misfits Market both started out as “ugly” produce delivery services, they’ve gone in pretty different directions in terms of their service and what they offer.
You can check out our Misfits Market review here to get a better idea of their service but for the most part the product pricing is about the same. The only real differences when it comes to pricing is that Imperfect Foods charges a $7.99 delivery fee and Misfits Market charges $5.50. Also, Misfits Market has a lower minimum spend amount (they have a $22 plan).
The biggest difference between both are in what they offer. Misfits Market only offers produce and some dry goods like snacks and coffee. Imperfect Foods offers almost every food category you would find in a grocery store. Because of this, if you’re looking to replace your grocery store runs, Imperfect Foods is the better option.
Frequently Asked Questions
Since our previous review of Imperfect Foods (back when they used to be called “Imperfect Produce”) we’ve received a lot of different questions and comments across social media and our YouTube channel. I’ve also seen a lot of questions pop up as I was researching this review. For these reasons, I decided to add in this section to answer some of the most popular questions about Imperfect Foods.
Are they good at filling your box if you don’t customize it?
If you ever forget to customize your box for the week, Imperfect Foods will send you foods based on the preferences you filled out when initially setting up your account. This has happened a few times before on our end and, while not ideal, Imperfect Foods did a good job of filling our box. The key to making sure they fill your box well is to make sure that you add all the foods you don’t ever want to your “never” list. Also, be sure to always add any items you absolutely want each week to your "recurring" list. I’ve found this cuts down on receiving any random items I don’t want if I forget to customize my box for the week.
Where do they source their foods?
Surprisingly, Imperfect Foods does not list exactly where they source their foods from other than saying here that they source sustainably. They list a few testimonials of farmers here.
Is it easy to cancel?
Yes, Imperfect Foods makes it very simply to cancel your subscription without having to jump through any hoops. Simply go to your account settings and select “Manage Subscription”. Then click the “Cancel My Whole Subscription” link.
Pros & Cons Of Imperfect Foods
Now that we’ve gone through our personal experience using Imperfect Foods and how the entire service works, let’s go over what we like and dislike the most…
Pros of Imperfect Foods
- It’s very customizable. When compared to all of the other produce delivery services that I’ve tried, I find Imperfect Foods to be one of the most customizable. You can select your preferred delivery day, what your specific food preferences are, and really make it fit your lifestyle.
- They have a great variety to select from. Now that Imperfect Foods has switched up their service to include way more selection, it really can be used as a replacement to grocery shopping.
- I love the addition of “recurring” and “never” lists. Now that they allow me to add items on a recurring basis to my box (like fruits and vegetables we go through each week) and add items to my “never” list (which I don’t want to receive) it makes the process of grocery shopping online a lot more efficient.
- Pricing is comparable to our local grocery stores. One a per-item basis, I found the pricing to be comparable what’s found in grocery stores (with some minor exceptions). Do note that Imperfect Foods charges a $7.99 shipping fee though.
Cons of Imperfect Foods
- They don’t allow you to see specific foods prior to signing up. This one is pretty annoying, to say the least. You have to sign up and give them your credit card information before you can see what they offer.
- You can only add items to your box when they open their shop. Another annoying aspect is that you can’t even view their shop until they “open” it (and send you an email). So if you accidentally miss their email one day, you could forget to customize your box and get sent food you don’t really want.
- The beef doesn’t have an expiration date. This might not be a big deal for some but as I mentioned above, the beef only says “use within 7 days of thawing” but it comes thawed/cold.
Imperfect Foods Coupons
If you’re set on ordering your first Imperfect Foods box, below are some coupons and promotional codes to help you save some money.
- This is our referral link with will get you $51 off your first box ($25 + free shipping off your first order, and $25 off their second order)
- The coupon code “MP25” will get you 25% off sitewide
- The promo code “GET20X4” will get you 20% off your first 4 boxes
We like to include multiple different coupons and promo codes in this section just in case any don’t work or expire. If you know of any better ones, let us know in the comments!
Final Thoughts: Who Is Imperfect Foods Right For?
Imperfect Foods has slowly evolved from one of the most popular produce delivery services to now become one of the biggest grocery delivery services out there.
Does that mean they’re the best option for everyone out there? Not exactly.
While Imperfect Foods has a great selection, they don’t have everything you’d find at your local grocery store (at least, not yet). For example, you can’t get items like paper towels, toilet paper, or more niche beauty supplies.
That being said, they cover all of the basics when it comes to food (meats, produce, fruit, snacks, and desserts) and they do it well. The majority of the food is exceptionally high-quality—organic, non-GMO, no hormones added, etc. It also looks as though they want to expand into more household staples by now offering soaps and lotions.
The one real issue I think most people are going to have with Imperfect Foods is that you can’t start shopping and adding items to your box until a specific allotted time and day. Once that time is over, they close the store again. For people who want to do their grocery shopping at a specific time, this might be a dealbreaker.
If you don’t mind having to wait until they open their store to start shopping, Imperfect Foods is a great grocery delivery service. I find it to be a good value for the quality of food you receive, especially considering the pricing is pretty comparable to most grocery stores.
Have a questions about Imperfect Foods we didn’t answer in this review? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!
Four emails, One message through Facebook! No Response from Imperfect Foods except for automated emails. I have paid for food that was to be delivered January 3. It is 6:54 pm on January 7. No Response! I tried to call, and even though it was during their business hours, they were not answering the phone and do not have a voicemail. I have now paid for spoiled food. Is this a scam? I’m beginning to think so.
I tried farm foods produce box and was not happy with them. The vegetables came all messed up in the last 2 boxes we got. Does imperfect do a good job of packaging? Last thing I need is to have the same thing happen again..
No produce delivery service that I've tried does a perfect job of packaging. Imperfect Foods does do better than most because they actually wrap all the produce with recyclable paper so it's less likely to bounce around in the box. They also use a pretty thick insulation material.
Well I asked Imperfect the sources of their grass fed ground beef and all they came up with was domestically raised but would not disclose any sources! This is scary - other companies are very open what farms their meats come from - so what are they HIDING?