This cookware startup lets you buy the same pots and pans used in Michelin-starred restaurants at affordable prices – here are our favorite pieces

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  • Made In offers well-made, durable, and versatile cookware at affordable prices.
  • Thanks to careful construction and durable materials, you’ll be able to use these pans, pots, and knives for a lifetime.
  • We’ve tested many of Made In’s products. Our favorites include a nonstick pan (from $79) and a set of knives ($379).

A slew of kitchenware startups has quickly cropped up in recent years, but Made In (launched in 2017) remains a standout company for its unique, accessible, and simple approach to making cookware.

The founders of Made In, whose family have worked in kitchen supply for a century, wanted to create cookware that didn’t cost a lot but was good enough for the rigors of a professional kitchen. They strived for a balance of price, quality, and approachability with their products.

Most of Made In’s products, which are mainly kitchen basics like frying pans, pots, and knives, are made in the United States, though a few pieces are made in France and Italy. Working with manufacturers with centuries of experience, Made In emphasizes careful craftsmanship with high-quality materials (such as five-ply construction and 18/10 stainless steel) and smart, clever design.

As a result, its cookware is durable, a lifetime investment rather than a temporary fix to get you through the next couple of years. Made In’s fans love that they can get cookware akin to All-Clad’s, at a fraction of the price.

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Made In has also attracted investors and board members like restaurateur and “Top Chef” judge Tom Colicchio, as well as the founders of the Alinea Group, Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas. It helps stock the kitchens of the world-famous Alinea and Le Bernardin, and it also regularly collaborates with other top chefs and restaurants to create limited-edition cookware bundles and recipe kits.

With both its consumer-facing and restaurant-facing businesses thriving, Made In has proven its strength. Everyone, from everyday home cooks to expert chefs of the best restaurants, wants high-quality cookware at a decent price.

We’ve tried many of Made In’s cookware pieces and cooking tools in the past year, so if you need help narrowing down the best of its collection, keep reading.

Shop all cookware at Made In

Here are the best Made In products to buy in 2021

A cookware essential for any egg dish

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Non Stick Frying Pan (10-inch) (button)

My first introduction to Made In was more than a year ago with this nonstick pan, and it’s still one of my favorite pieces of cookware. The nonstick surface, which is free from the toxic ingredient PFOA, is a dream to cook with because eggs glide smoothly on it without leaving any crusty residue. It’s also so easy to clean, saving me countless hours in front of the sink. It heats up quickly and the heat distribution stays consistent, but the sturdy and ergonomic handle always stays cool. 

The pan comes in three sizes, 8-inch ($89), 10-inch ($99), and 12-inch ($109). I have the 10-inch, which is the perfect size for a couple of eggs or fish for one, so if you’re cooking for more people, I’d recommend sizing up to the 12-inch. —Connie Chen, senior reporter

A pan commonly used in European cooking

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Blue Carbon Steel Frying Pan (10-inch) (button)

Carbon steel is cool because it combines the best properties of stainless steel and cast iron. With the light weight, heat control, and cooking speed of stainless steel and the heat retention, seasoning, and nonstick surface of cast iron, it’s the underrated cooking material more home cooks need to take advantage of. The sloped edges let you stir and saute in ways that the straight edge of a cast iron pan can’t, but it still has great heat retention if you want that coveted sear on your meat. 

You need to season it like a cast iron, so there is still a maintenance aspect to it, but you’ll be rewarded with a nonstick surface and more flavorful food as the seasoning develops. —Connie Chen, senior reporter 

A large and sturdy stock pot

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Stockpot (6-quart) (button)

After moving into a new apartment, I was excited to add the Made In Stock Pot to my kitchen. The 6-quart Stock Pot is a nice size, perfect for everything from soups to mac and cheese to hard-boiled eggs. It’s tall and narrow, so I never have to worry about it boiling over.

The stainless steel is substantial, but still relatively lightweight. The side handles make it easy to move the pot from stovetop to countertop with ease. —Remi Rosmarin, reporter 

Made In’s Stock Pots are everything you look for in a stockpot, save for the size. I wish they’d make one twice as large for my backyard oyster roasts and clambakes. Sure, that’d be twice as much steel, and it’d be that much more expensive, but the steel the brand uses is just right for such a task.

I don’t want to spend $400 to $500 on a finely finished stainless steel stockpot only to load it with shells and hit it with merciless heat, repeatedly. So, instead, I’ve made my stock in bigger, cheaper pots, and transferred it into the Made In 8-quart stock pot once it had reduced enough. From there, it was low and slow, and the pot maintained even heat. I left it bubbling for about six hours and didn’t get any hot spots. ‘Nuff said. —Owen Burke, senior reporter

A set of knives for delicate tasks

a set of five Made In knives with red handles

Made In’s paring knife makes it easy to chop up an onion or slice a hard cheese. If the utility knife were a little longer, it would be perfect for slicing wider loaves of bread like sesame semolina, but the serrated edge has been great for slicing more narrow loaves of bread like baguettes, and for slicing softer foods like tomatoes and grilled peaches. —Danny Bakst, senior story producer 

A pan with a rounded bottom that’s perfect for making sauces

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Saucier (3-quart) (button)

Made In’s stainless clad might be a little rawer than, say, All-Clad’s, but it’s hefty, seemingly durable, and made in the USA. Because it’s a little less refined than some other 18/10 Stainless Steel, it maybe takes a little more work to season. But after seasoning my Saucier once or twice, I had no problem with anything sticking, even rice, which I’m usually awful at cooking.

Again, the weight and the handle are assuringly substantial, and I don’t sense anything’s going to fall apart anytime soon. I also like the shape of the saucepans; the beveled edge allows you to roll the pan a bit more on the stove than something with a harder, squarer chine. This is now my go-to saucepan for that very reason. —Owen Burke, senior reporter 

The staple of all staples: a stainless steel pan

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Frying Pan (12-inch) (button)

I’ve had Made In’s stainless steel frying pan for months, and I’ve grown to appreciate how cool the handle stays while I cook and how nice it looks in the kitchen. It also cooks very evenly.

But it also takes much longer to clean than my nonstick pans. I’ll be the first to admit that this may be exacerbated by my lack of experience cooking, but it means I skip using this when I’m in a rush — which is often. However, my experience seems to run counter to most reviews on the site, though a few three-star reviews also mention cleanability as a con. —Mara Leighton, reporter 

A wok to make a delicious stir fry

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Blue Carbon Steel Wok (button)

The first piece I tried from Made In was the Blue Carbon Steel Wok. I’ve seared scallops and stir-fried clams so far, and with a little seasoning, this has been a good heavy-duty wok for use and abuse in my kitchen. It’s got the weight and rigidity of something that will last a good long while. I liked how easily I was able to season it, and I liked the sturdy handle and substantial weight too. I’ll continue to put this to work. —Owen Burke, senior reporter

A well-designed block that doubles as an attractive serving tray

Made In butcher's block

The Butcher Block (button)

The Made In American Maple Butcher Block is a substantial block of wood that is equal parts elegant and functional. Made from recycled maple wood sourced in Wisconsin, the butcher block has a beautiful exterior that is smooth to the touch.

Additionally, the grooves and wells along the edge of the block collect liquids and bread crumbs, helping cut down on countertop messes. With other cutting boards, I’ve had a hard time getting rid of murky residue after slicing avocados, tomatoes, or raw chicken, but after a simple scrub with hot water and soap, there is minimal residue engrained into the wood. 

Beyond being a sturdy place to chop, slice, and dice, the flat side of the board was designed as a serving tray or cheese board. While it is quite heavy to lug around as a serving piece, it does have two built-in handles that make it easier to transport around the house. —Danny Bakst, senior story producer 

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Amtrak is bringing back nostalgia-inducing traditional dining with white tablecloth service and china

Inside the dining car of an Amtrak Superliner - Amtrak Upgraded Long Distance Trains 2021
Touring Amtrak’s newly-upgraded Superliner train.

  • Traditional dining is back on Amtrak as of June 23 on six long-distance routes.
  • Sleeper car customers traveling west of Chicago will have white tablecloth service with a new selection of elegant meals.
  • It’s part of Amtrak’s $28 million plan to upgrade its Superliner and Viewliner fleet of train cars.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Rail riders may soon be packing dinner jackets for their travels as traditional dining is back on Amtrak.

A scene from the movie "Strangers on a Train" - railroad train dining car
A scene from the movie “Strangers on a Train.”

Starting June 23, six long-distance routes including the California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Sunset Limited, and Texas Eagle will offer dining options for sleeper car customers that harken back to the golden age of rail travel.

An Amtrak long-distance train
An Amtrak long-distance train.

Amtrak’s catering has been lacking in recent years following cuts to the dining service, as Insider’s Graham Rapier found when riding between New York and Chicago in 2019. But new options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner will be available that will make riders look forward to mealtimes.

A man ordering a meal in an Amtrak dining car.
An Amtrak dining car.

Read More: It took me 96 hours to ride an Amtrak train from coast to coast. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Amtrak showed off the new offering as part of a $28 million refresh of its long-distance trains. Take a look at the new Amtrak dining experience.

An Amtrak Superliner - Amtrak Upgraded Long Distance Trains 2021
Touring Amtrak’s newly-upgraded Superliner train.

It starts with the tables. Amtrak is updating all of the seats and rooms on its Superliner and Viewliner trains, including dining room tables and seats.

Inside the observation car of an Amtrak Superliner - Amtrak Upgraded Long Distance Trains 2021
Touring Amtrak’s newly-upgraded Superliner train.

Read More: Amtrak just debuted upgraded long-distance trains that will transform rail travel in America with new seats and rooms — see inside

New tabletops hadn’t been installed by the time of the tour but they are coming. Meanwhile, the old blue cushions and coverings with which loyal Amtrak riders are familiar will be replaced with a cleaner looking design.

Inside the observation car of an Amtrak Superliner - Amtrak Upgraded Long Distance Trains 2021
Touring Amtrak’s newly-upgraded Superliner train.

White tablecloth service is resuming and being upgraded to beyond what was offered even before the pandemic. For the interim, a full spread of Amtrak-branded plates will be used but they’ll soon be replaced with full china in around three to four months.

Inside the dining car of an Amtrak Superliner - Amtrak Upgraded Long Distance Trains 2021
Touring Amtrak’s newly-upgraded Superliner train.

Customers will once again have multiple choices for each meal, featuring both new items and old favorites.

Inside the dining car of an Amtrak Superliner - Amtrak Upgraded Long Distance Trains 2021
Touring Amtrak’s newly-upgraded Superliner train.

For breakfast, “Amtrak signature railroad French toast” is back by popular demand but with a twist as fresh cream and mixed berries will be added on top.

Amtrak's signature railroad French toast- Amtrak traditional dining
Amtrak’s traditional dining offering.

Also on offer for the optimistic morning meal is a made-to-order three-egg omelet, scrambled eggs, and a continental breakfast. Sides include hardwood smoked bacon, pork sausage links, and chicken sausage links.

Inside the dining car of an Amtrak Superliner - Amtrak Upgraded Long Distance Trains 2021
Touring Amtrak’s newly-upgraded Superliner train.

For lunch, comfort food is the name of the game. The “artisan grilled cheese” and “natural Angus burger” are two classic handheld choices.

Inside the dining car of an Amtrak Superliner - Amtrak Upgraded Long Distance Trains 2021
Touring Amtrak’s newly-upgraded Superliner train.

But there are some healthier options on the table. Caesar salad with grilled chicken and “savory chili” are also menu options.

Amtrak's grilled chicken Caesar salad - Amtrak traditional dining
Amtrak’s traditional dining offering.

Dinner then caps off the meal service and another treat for customers is that appetizers are back on Amtrak. The lobster crab cake is the signature appetizer but other options include a green chile cheese tamale that’s served in the husk, as well as a mixed green salad with baby brie.

Inside the dining car of an Amtrak Superliner - Amtrak Upgraded Long Distance Trains 2021
Touring Amtrak’s newly-upgraded Superliner train.

Then it’s time for the entree, where the flagship dish is the “signature flat iron steak.” The eight-ounce black Angus steak is accompanied by a cabernet reduction sauce and served with baby green beans, carrots, and either cheddar polenta or a baked potato.

Amtrak's signature flat iron steak - Amtrak traditional dining
Amtrak’s traditional dining offering.

Other options include pan-roasted chicken breast, grilled Atlantic salmon, and tortellini with pesto cream.

Amtrak's grilled Atlantic salmon - Amtrak traditional dining
Amtrak’s traditional dining offering.

Both lunch and dinner are topped off with dessert. Three options are available including a flourless chocolate torte, Philadelphia cheesecake, and carrot cake.

Amtrak's grilled chicken Caesar salad - Amtrak traditional dining
Amtrak’s traditional dining offering.

One complimentary alcoholic beverage is offered with dinner but there is a bar selection that includes new wine options from Kendall-Jackson, Chateau Ste. Michelle, and Dark Harvest.

Amtrak's signature flat iron steak - Amtrak traditional dining
Amtrak’s traditional dining offering.

For younger travelers, a children’s menu is also available with kid classics like grilled cheese, roasted chicken breast, white cheddar macaroni and cheese, and a hot dog.

Inside the dining car of an Amtrak Superliner - Amtrak Upgraded Long Distance Trains 2021
Touring Amtrak’s newly-upgraded Superliner train.

And to top it all off, a fresh flower will also be on display at each table.

Inside the dining car of an Amtrak Superliner - Amtrak Upgraded Long Distance Trains 2021
Touring Amtrak’s newly-upgraded Superliner train.

While a three-course meal with drinks might seem like a multi-hour affair, Amtrak has a train full of patrons to serve and have limited time to do it. Riders won’t be rushed out but won’t be spending hours in the dining car.

Inside the dining car of an Amtrak Superliner - Amtrak Upgraded Long Distance Trains 2021
Touring Amtrak’s newly-upgraded Superliner train.

Customers traveling in sleeper cars, whether they be full rooms or the smaller roomettes, have the dining service included in the price of their ticket. Reservation times for the dining car are given to passengers by the cabin attendant.

Inside the sleeping car of an Amtrak Superliner - Amtrak Upgraded Long Distance Trains 2021
Touring Amtrak’s newly-upgraded Superliner train.

Communal dining will be available with the new service and the premise is simple: a table full of different passengers sit at one table and share a meal, as Insider’s Áine Cain experienced on an Amtrak train from Orlando, Florida to New York in 2019.

Inside the dining car of an Amtrak Superliner - Amtrak Upgraded Long Distance Trains 2021
Touring Amtrak’s newly-upgraded Superliner train.

Read More: I spent 23 hours on an Amtrak train from Orlando to New York — and it was a roller-coaster experience with extreme highs and lows

The rear section of the car, however, will be available for individual seating should riders not want to dine with others. Some prefer the individual setting and now with the pandemic, Amtrak wants to ensure that riders can feel comfortable by offering the service.

Inside the dining car of an Amtrak Superliner - Amtrak Upgraded Long Distance Trains 2021
Touring Amtrak’s newly-upgraded Superliner train.

Sleeper car customers can also take their meals in their rooms if they don’t want to venture to the dining car.

Inside the sleeping car of an Amtrak Superliner - Amtrak Upgraded Long Distance Trains 2021
Touring Amtrak’s newly-upgraded Superliner train.

Coach customers won’t have access to the dining car and instead will get their meals from the onboard cafe, located in the Sightseer Car.

Inside the observation car of an Amtrak Superliner - Amtrak Upgraded Long Distance Trains 2021
Touring Amtrak’s newly-upgraded Superliner train.

But Amtrak is working on ways of getting coach customers into the dining car, including selling dining plans that allow them to buy a certain number of meals.

Inside the coach cabin of an Amtrak Superliner - Amtrak Upgraded Long Distance Trains 2021
Touring Amtrak’s newly-upgraded Superliner train.

Pickup or seat delivery options are also on the table for coach customers, Robert Jordan, Amtrak’s vice president of operations customer services, told Insider.

Inside the coach cabin of an Amtrak Superliner - Amtrak Upgraded Long Distance Trains 2021
Touring Amtrak’s newly-upgraded Superliner train.

Amtrak will look to expand more dining options to coach customers after a period of three or four months, once the traditional dining offering has been fully implemented.

Inside the coach cabin of an Amtrak Superliner - Amtrak Upgraded Long Distance Trains 2021
Touring Amtrak’s newly-upgraded Superliner train.

But at least in the dining car, rail travelers will get to enjoy the best Amtrak dining experience in years when traveling long-distance through the American West.

An Amtrak Superliner - Amtrak Upgraded Long Distance Trains 2021
Touring Amtrak’s newly-upgraded Superliner train.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Thrive Market is an online grocery store that sells organic foods at wholesale prices – here’s what it’s like to use

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

a collection of groceries from Thrive Market against a yellow background

  • Thrive Market is an online grocery store that curates the best organic, non-GMO groceries, beauty, and cleaning supplies.
  • Its prices are 25% to 50% off regular retail prices, though you have to pay a membership fee ($60/year or $10/month).
  • I saved more than $100 on my first order at Thrive Market than if I were to shop at a regular grocery store.

Membership (Monthly) (small)Membership (Annual) (small)Table of Contents: Masthead StickyRelated Article Module: The 5 best places to buy groceries online in 2021

When I first tried Thrive Market, I was just coming out of essentially a reverse-cleanse: a 12-pack of macaroni and cheese that I bought at a “great deal” discount on Amazon groceries. A couple of months of eating that and an unrelated health scare, and I was ready to commit to a complete pantry overhaul. That’s when I started shopping at Thrive Market.

What is Thrive Market?

Thrive Market bills itself as “wholesome food at wholesale prices.” It’s an online wholesale grocery store that curates the best organic, non-GMO products at a discounted rate of 25% to 50% off retail prices to its members.

You have two membership options. The annual membership costs $59.95 (or $5/month) and is billed once yearly. If you opt to do a monthly membership instead, you’ll pay $9.95 per month.

You’ll get free shipping on your first order over $25, plus all orders $49 or more. Thrive Market currently ships to all contiguous US states.

How it works:

  • Sign up for free: You can browse the catalog, see member saving, and receive 25% off your first purchase.
  • Start a free 30-day trial: You can start a free 30-day membership trial with your first purchase on Thrive Market. Cancel anytime.
  • Join as a member: After your trial, you can sign up for a paid membership. If you do, you’re also sponsoring a free membership for a low-income family.

You can shop Thrive Market category, by values (ie. gluten-free, paleo, raw, vegan, etc.), or by current deals.

What can you buy at Thrive Market?

Thrive Market carries 6,000+ healthy products, and you can shop hundreds of categories. You’ll find food, beauty, bath and body, health, babies and kids, home, pet supplies, and the all-inclusive “other” from brands like Burt’s Bees, Acure, Annie’s, Seventh Generation, KIND, Bragg, Califa, Milkadamia, and Primal Kitchen.

While you can buy staples like meats and seafood, the rest of Thrive Market’s selection is mostly shelf-stable options. For produce, you’ll probably still want to stop at your neighborhood store, farmers’ market, or another grocery delivery option.

In addition to offering thousands of organic brands you could find at your local grocery store and online, they also have an in-house Thrive Market brand that packages organic products (the equivalent of your supermarket chain’s generic brand).

a smoothie bowl made from groceries purchased from Thrive Market
Thrive Market’s $60/year or $10/month membership gets you access to savings on healthy foods.

If you spend a lot of time researching healthy foods, have a dedicated diet or food restrictions, or consistently buy organic or non-GMO foods online, you’ll likely get the most value with Thrive Market.

Quality is a concern with organic substitutes, and it’s helpful to have customer ratings to simplify things as you go on Thrive Market. The healthy eating community is an intense one, so it’s nice that Thrive Market makes use of all that helpful, accumulative passion in a way that I, a newcomer, can utilize too.

The 25% to 50% price difference also could help to close the gap between the sometimes inflated “organic” prices at some grocery stores, making Thrive Market a viable choice for the average person on a budget.

If ordering food online seems risky to you, it’s good to note that you’ll be protected by a return policy. If anything is wrong with your groceries or your order, though, let them know here within 21 days.

When we price checked some of the items, Thrive Market was not always cheaper, but when it was, it usually offered a large enough gap in savings to be substantial overall. You could save more by buying local, though your selection may not be as wide or the process as convenient.

And if you’re concerned about getting value out of your membership, Thrive Market guarantees their annual membership will pay for itself. If your membership fee was $60, but you only saved $40 in a year, they will automatically give you the difference ($20) in Thrive Market credit after you renew.

Review of Thrive Market

two boxes of Simple Mills crackers from Thrive Market
Thrive Market stocks popular brands like Annie’s and Simple Mills, and has its own in-house Thrive Market brand too.

I ordered my groceries from Thrive Market in pursuit of a pantry not entirely reliant upon mac and cheese. In my first Thrive order, the total was $99.16 and the savings listed were $145.33.

The savings claims held up, and I technically paid off the $60 annual membership fee in my first order. The food was delicious, and I discovered new better-for-you snacks. I also found Thrive to be surprisingly cheaper for some of my favorite skincare products, like this Aztec Clay Mask.

Thrive Market carries ethically sourced meat and seafood in large bulk “box” options, but the options are slightly more limited than the average meat and seafood counter at a grocery store. I also don’t have space in my freezer or fridge to handle $100+ worth of meat, but if you do, it could be another great place to see your savings.

My colleague, Owen Burke, a lifelong fisherman with a background in commercial fishing and tending oyster bars, tried out Thrive’s bevy of seafood on offer, and had this to say:

“I tried Thrive Market’s Deluxe Seafood box, which runs you about $170. This is not something you’ll want to buy unless you have a solid shelf of freezer space to spare, but I’ll commend Thrive and call this nothing short of a feat on their part. You’re getting six different species of seafood, and everything I received was wild-caught, and not in some far-flung waters using questionable methods and labor practices, something with which the industry is rife. These might not be the absolute best practices for every product, but Thrive is going leaps and bounds above your run-of-the-mill grocery store.

My favorite was the shrimp. They were superbly packed, vacuum-sealed, and packaged, which is among the most important things to do with any seafood. Mess that part up in any way (which, admittedly, is an easy thing to do), and you’re fighting a losing game against oxidation and freezer burn. These shrimp still looked fresh after I thawed them and pulled them out of the packaging. They were beautifully peeled and de-veined, and they had no hint of off-flavor that you sometimes get when shrimp (especially frozen shrimp) aren’t handled all that well. I give them an A+ here.

The sockeye salmon was also vacuum-sealed well, and while I always appreciate skin-on salmon fillets, they often come at the cost of turned (brown) blood meat, which imparts that”fishy” flavor associated with frozen fish. This is per usual, though, when it comes to frozen salmon, but I recommend eating around it, if not to avoid the taste then to avoid the toxins blood meat bears. You’ll also get four to five fillets, which means four to five servings (about six ounces a pop).

The lobster tails are very nicely processed, de-veined, and split so you can pop them right in the oven or on the grill. They’re not vacuum-sealed, but loose on a tray covered in plastic, which lends them to some freezer burn and ice buildup, but that really doesn’t create the problem for lobster as it does for fish, due to the tough quality of the meat.

The scallops I received provided two servings, and while they weren’t vacuum-sealed as I would have liked, they were plenty tasty. Just note that these are not your jumbo-sized U10 (under 10/pound) scallops, but they were tasty and clean (free of residual sand and mud). You can find better scallops out there, but for what you’re getting for the price of this box, I’d file no complaints.

It varies depending on what you get, but in all, you’re looking at 10-15 meals of fresh-frozen (that’s fish that was frozen fresh, as soon as it was processed) wild-caught protein of high quality. That’s something like $11-$17 dollars a dish, which is about as good as you’re going to do with high-quality fresh seafood unless you’ve got friends at the fishing docks.”

The bottom line

a box showing meat purchased from Thrive Market
Thrive Market carries meat and fish to be ordered in bulk, but it isn’t likely to be the average person’s main source of meats.

I wish it was possible to find everything here (fresh fruit, more options for meat), but ultimately the discounts and the easy delivery make using Thrive worth it. And I wish it was free shipping always instead of just orders of $49 and up, but I typically clear that just by restocking my favorite basics. All in all, I liked using Thrive Market regularly for healthy snacks, healthy-but-fast foods, and kitchen basics like pasta sauce and olive oil.

If you need an added incentive, Thrive Market also has a program called “Thrive Gives” which gifts a free membership to someone in need through Feeding America and the Boys and Girls Club or directly through the site for every paid membership. The free membership also includes teachers, veterans, and first responders.

Start a free 30-day trial to Thrive Market

Membership (Monthly) (small)

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Americans are traveling and dining almost as much now as before the pandemic, AmEx CEO says

Airport mask coronavirus
A person wearing a mask at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in April 2020.

Americans are dining out and traveling again.

Spending for both are nearing pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels, Steve Squeri, American Express CEO, told CNBC’s Jim Cramer on “Mad Money” on Monday.

Both travel-adjacent companies and restaurants were initially decimated when the COVID-19 pandemic first rippled across the US. But now, mass vaccination efforts, financial aid from the federal government, and improved personal finances – such as an increase in savings and low delinquencies – are pushing the return of both industries, Squeri told CNBC.

“They have the money in the bank, they’re ready to spend it, but what was holding them back was not having a comfort about being able to go out,” Jay Bryson, Wells Fargo’s chief economist, told the New York Times’ Ben Casselman in early April. “We’re getting into a critical mass of people that are feeling comfortable beginning to go out again.”

And it seems like now, the US is hitting this critical mass.

“When we look at our travel numbers, travel bookings in May were 95% of where they were in May of 2019,” said Squeri. This was without international travel.

Almost 2.1 million people traveled on June 13, according to data from the Transportation Security Administration. To compare, about 2.64 million people traveled the same day in 2019.

Read more: Can you work remotely? These 14 cities and towns will pay you up to $20,000 just to move there.

This uptick in travel, which could be foreshadowing an impending summer boom, is already being reflected in niche segments of the industry. For example, a rental car shortage is currently plaguing hot destinations like Hawaii, Florida, Phoenix, and Puerto Rico.

And Thor Industries – a major RV maker that oversees brands like Jayco and Airstream – is “pretty much sold out for the next year,” Thor’s president and CEO Bob Martin told CNBC’s Jim Cramer on “Mad Money.”

Squeri believes that by the end of this year, the US will have a “full consumer recovery” in terms of travel. “I think globally, we will probably be about 80% of where we were in 2019,” he said.

Similarly, restaurants are also “doing great,” according to Squeri, and expenses are at roughly 85% of 2019 numbers. He also notes that younger patrons are driving this boost in restaurant spending.

“The people that are really spending at restaurants [are] millennials [at] 130% in April of what they spent back in 2019,” Squeri said. “We believe that that’s going to continue to move forward.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 8 best baking cookbooks, according to 2 award-winning bakers

  • Baking cookbooks can help you perfect your pie crust, sourdough bread, or chocolate chip cookies.
  • We tapped expert bakers Joanne Chang and Amber Croom to share their favorite baking books.
  • The books cover the basics as well as how to master French pastries and temper chocolate.

It’s no secret baking is a science – only the right ingredients interact properly to create chewy cookies, flaky pie crust, and airy cakes. Pastry chefs work hard to get those measurements right, and many pass on their knowledge in beautiful cookbooks. But which ones belong on your bookcase?

I reached out to James Beard Award Winner Joanne Chang (owner of Flour Bakery and Myers + Chang in Boston) and “Chopped Sweets” Winner Amber Croom (owner of And 4 Dessert confectionary studio in Baltimore) to find out which cookbooks every beginner and expert home baker needs. Many of the picks are classics that have been around for years, with the best now in its second, revised edition.

Chef Joanne Chang at her bakery
Chef Joanne Chang at her Boston bakery, Flour Bakery + Café.

Chef Amber Croom competing on Food Network's 'Holiday Baking Championship'
Chef Amber Croom competing on Food Network’s “Holiday Baking Championship.”

For those who learn better by watching, I also combed through hours of videos to find the best YouTube channel for upgrading your baking skills, plus an online platform that brings some of the best pastry chefs’ classes right into your kitchen.

These baking cookbooks belong in any kitchen library, whether you’re looking to perfect your chocolate chip cookies, want to become an authority on French patisserie, or simply love a great homemade loaf of sourdough.

10 great expert-recommended baking books and online baking resources:

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

The best overall baking cookbook

Best overall cookbook - "Tartine: A Classic Revisited: 68 All-New Recipes + 55 Updated Favorites" by Elisabeth M. Pruett and Chad Robertson

“Tartine: A Classic Revisited: 68 All-New Recipes + 55 Updated Favorites” by Elisabeth M. Pruett and Chad Robertson

The original edition of the “Tartine” cookbook was published in 2006 and became an instant classic among pastry chefs, home bakers, and fans of the legendary San Francisco bakery. “It’s gorgeous, the pastries are both familiar and special, the recipes WORK,” says Chang. “It’s so inspiring to read and I love every page.” For the award-winning 2019 edition, Pruett and Robertson doubled the number of recipes with all-new photography, making this a must-have for any cookbook collection.

The best beginner baking book

Best cookbook for beginners: "BraveTart - Iconic American Desserts" by Stella Parks

“BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts” by Stella Parks

While new bakers may dream of macarons, it’s easier to start with simple American recipes and slowly learn the science behind your bakes. Those two reasons alone are why “BraveTart” is the perfect cookbook to start exploring in the kitchen. Parks not only incorporates great stories for each recipe; she composes each one in a way that professional chefs and home bakers can use, says Croom. “BraveTart is amazing — all of the pastries you grew up with as a kid, but made by a master baker,” adds Chang.

The best bread baking book

Best cookbook for breadmaking - "My Bread - The Revolutionary No Work, No Knead Method" by Jim Lahey

“My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method” by Jim Lahey

Jim Lahey turned the pastry world upside down with the publication “My Bread,” which proved bread machines and exhausting kneading techniques aren’t necessary. “He started a bread revolution with his way of baking bread and every loaf I’ve ever had from this book tastes just like it does in his bakeries Sullivan St Bakery,” says Chang. More than a decade later, its flawless recipes are still a must-have for anyone who wants to bake bread at home.

The best cake baking book

Best cookbook for cakes - "The Cake Bible" by Rose Levy Berenbaum

“The Cake Bible” by Rose Levy Berenbaum

Every home baker has a story about a cake disaster since they are incredibly tricky to get right. Rose Levy Berenbaum’s classic “The Cake Bible” has taught a whole generation of bakers the mistakes to avoid, and everything else you need to know to turn out delicious cakes. “It has every single cake you can ever imagine and Rose is generous with her expertise and knowledge,” says Chang. “I’ve learned so much about cake baking just from reading and baking through this book.”

Th best chocolate baking book

Best chocolate cookbook - "Chocolate Recipes and Techniques from the Ferrandi School of Culinary Arts" by Ferrandi Paris

“Chocolate: Recipes and Techniques from the Ferrandi School of Culinary Arts” by Ferrandi Paris

Chocolate makes gorgeous desserts that are a delight to eat, but it can be quite temperamental and frustrates even the most expert of pastry chefs. “Chocolate,” from the famous culinary school Ferrandi Paris, gives readers step-by-step instructions to master the medium. “It covers everything from utensils to tempering chocolate,” says Croom. “It’s like going to a chocolate academy without the price tag, but in book form.”

The best French pastry baking book

Best cookbook for French pastries - "The Art of French Pastry  A Cookbook" by Jacquy Pfeiffer and Martha Rose Shulman

“The Art of French Pastry: A Cookbook” by Jacquy Pfeiffer and Martha Rose Shulman

Mastering patisserie takes time, patience, and a lot of butter. Jacquy Pfeiffer, the founder of Chicago’s French Pastry School, created “The Art of French Pastry” as a comprehensive guide that helps readers with the fundamentals and gives easy-to-follow instructions. “You can tell from every recipe in the book that Chef Pfeiffer has years of teaching classic French pastries,” says Croom.

The best pie baking book

Best pie cookbook - "The Book on Pie - Everything You Need to Know to Bake Perfect Pies" by Erin Jeanne McDowell

“The Book on Pie: Everything You Need to Know to Bake Perfect Pies” by Erin Jeanne McDowell

Erin Jeanne McDowell, whose work is regularly featured in “The New York Times,” Food 52, and on Food Network Kitchen, is one of America’s foremost experts on pies. In this pie cookbook, “she covers everything you could ever want to know about creating the perfect pie,” says Croom. That includes everything from making the flakiest crusts and picturesque decorations to mastering savory pies.

The best whole grain baking book

Best cookbook for baking with whole grains - "Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours" by Kim Boyce

“Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours” by Kim Boyce

Baking with whole-grain flours can help home bakers create delicious desserts beyond the usual all-purpose flour. “Good to the Grain” features 75 recipes that cover a dozen different whole-grain flours, from buckwheat to teff. “You will learn so much about how different flours enhance both taste and texture of baked goods,” says Chang. Boyce does utilize white flour in her recipes, so this is good for those beginning to experiment with different flours.

Th best baking online courses

Best online courses - The Butter Book

The Butter Book

Created by Chefs Sébastien Canonne and Jacquy Pfeiffer, The Butter Book is a portal to everything a burgeoning pastry expert needs. It houses more than 170 baking video lessons, articles, a glossary, and courses on bread making, classic pastries, and cake decorating. The platform is available for $25 a month, or $200 for a year.

The best YouTube channel for baking

Best Youtube: Food52

Food52

Food 52’s YouTube channel is great for exploring new desserts or figuring out your latest baking mistake. The channel features two baking-focused series, “Bake It Up a Notch!” with Erin Jeanne McDowell and “Our Best Baking Lesson.” Baking projects do come up in their other series though, like Sohla El-Waylly’s “How to Make Any Type of Pound Cake” or Rick Martinez’s lesson on buñuelos.

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I visited one of the most iconic neighborhood bars in NYC after it reopened – here’s what it was like

Michelle Gross Photo 4   Patrons are no longer allowed to sit at the bar at Bemelmans as a reuslt of Covid
The bar at Bemelmans in New York City.

  • Michelle Gross is a freelance writer based in New York.
  • Recently, she spent a Friday night out at Bemelmans, the iconic bar at The Carlyle Hotel on the Upper East Side.
  • Although reopened at only 50% capacity, Gross says the bar was bustling with music and a new drinks menu.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In a city like New York, there’s no shortage of neighborhood bars. And while everyone has their favorite, for me, Bemelman’s Bar will always be emblematic of the quintessential New York City experience.

I recently spent a Friday night in late May at the iconic bar at The Carlyle, the Upper East Side hotel of choice for visiting celebrities and fashionable New Yorkers. Unlike most Friday nights over the past 14 months spent at home in my pajamas with my partner and two pugs, it’s now a post-COVID New York City, where donning my signature white tuxedo and going out for drinks and a little live music on the town felt novel and – dare I say? – normal.

As much a New York City icon as it is a cultural touchstone, Bemelmans and the adjoining Café Carlyle have hosted everyone from John F. Kennedy and Judy Collins to Frank Sinatra over the years. There’s no place quite like it anywhere on earth, and there’s certainly no place that feels as quintessentially New York.

Currently operating at a 50% capacity, this is the first-time Bemelmans has enforced a strict reservation-only policy.

“We’ve never had to enforce reservations like this in the past, and for now this is the simplest way to control the crowd,” Bemelmans’ new bar manager Dimitrios Michalopoulos told me that evening. “It’s been quite an adjustment, but this is the story for now.”

As a friend and I arrived at the Carlyle for our reservation, I noticed a lot has changed since my last visit in pre-pandemic times.

Before you can even enter Bemelmans, or the adjoining Topkapi Palace inspired tea room called The Gallery, you are greeted in The Carlyle’s foyer by a team of what looks like secret service agents in tuxedos, all of whom are equipped with earpieces to communicate with one another.

Michelle Gross Bemelmans
The foyer and waiting area before entering Bemelmans.

At check-in here, one member for each reservation is required to fill out a digital contact tracing form on an iPad. Once you make it past the check-in process, you’re led to your table.

Each reservation at Bemelmans has a 90-minute time limit, and there’s also a $15 per-person cover charge that’s applied to your bar tab. At present, masks are mandated when you go to and from your table; however, once inside, we quickly notice that the policy is loosely enforced.

“Our aim is to lead by example here,” Michalopoulos said, pointing out that all Bemelmans associates were wearing masks despite being vaccinated. “Our priority is to our guests and that means we’ll keep our masks on for now.”

All of the staff was masked up the entire time I was there, from the check in agents at the front to the servers and people behind the bar. Another big change I noticed is that people are no longer allowed to sit at the bar.

When we arrived at our table, we found a barcode menu waiting for us.

Michelle Gross 5   Barcodes are now used to order all food and drinks at Bemelmans making it a far more efficient process
Barcodes are now used to order all food and drinks at Bemelmans.

These barcodes seem ubiquitous now, however it felt jarring to see one in an environment as classical as Bemelmans.

With the help of Michalopoulos, the bar now features an entirely new menu that includes a signature cocktail list that pays homage to the guests, artists, and musicians who helped put this charming neighborhood bar on the map.

According to Michalopoulos, Bemelmans is largely known for its gin drinks and martinis. But one standout cocktail I tried was the JFK Daiquiri, a rum based drink inspired by one of the president’s favorite cocktails.

Bemelmans has a large selection of signature martinis, cocktails, mocktails, beers, and wine.

“Our clientele has been coming here for our martini’s for almost 75 years,” Michalopoulos said.

Michalopoulos said he spent the better part of a month researching the history and stories for each and every person the cocktails on Bemelmans Specialty Cocktail list are named after.

Photo 6   The author Michelle Gross and her friend sip martinis at Bemelmans
Gross and a friend enjoying martinis at Bemelmans.

Another standout drink was The Gillespie, which is made with Hudson Manhattan Rye, lime juice, rosemary ginger syrup, ginger beer, and egg white. It was named for a long time musician and entertainer at Bemelmans Bar, Chris Gillespie, who loved ginger, Michalopoulos told me.

“It was a lot of fun to honor the legacy of the people who used to come here and made this place so special,” Michalopoulos told me. “Their legacy lives on, and I know Bemelmans’ legacy will continue to live on long after, too.”

The iconic piano serves as a major focal point of the bar’s decor.

Michelle Gross 7: Music has always been at the center of a night out at Bemelmans and the piano serves as a major focal point of this iconic locale.
The piano at Bemelmans.

As I glanced around the room, and the sounds of people talking and live music on the piano played throughout our visit, I almost forgot what it was like in the before times at 100% occupancy.

Things have changed since my last visit to Bemelmans, but the magic that can be found in a night out here will always stay the same.

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West Elm just released its outdoor furniture collaboration with REI and it may inspire me to actually get outside this summer

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

two people eating outside at a blue table that is part of West Elm and REI’s outdoor 2021collaboration

  • West Elm and REI have collaborated on an outdoor gear collection for stylish beach and camp essentials.
  • The collection, which launched June 3, features modern takes on outdoor essentials like camp chairs and shade shelters.
  • You can shop the collection at both West Elm and REI. Here are five favorites from the launch.

Summer means more time spent camping or at the beach. To help with all your 2021 outdoor adventures, REI has collaborated with West Elm to launch an outdoor gear collection that blends style and function. The collection includes camp chairs, shade shelters, and outdoor dinnerware, all designed with the durability REI products are known for, combined with West Elm’s signature modern minimalist aesthetic.

It’s not REI and West Elm’s first collaboration: the retailers launched a similar collection last summer. For 2021, they’ve expanded the offerings with 10 new products, including an outdoor dining table, rope chairs in two different colors, and a patterned canopy shelter.

Below you’ll find our favorite products from the collection, which you can shop at REI or West Elm (though product selection may vary by store).

Outward Rope Chair (small)Insulated Picnic Tote (small)Outward Stool (small)Outward Dining Table (small)Outward Day Shelter (small)

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The best pepper grinders and pepper mills we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Pepper is one of the most popular spices around the world.
  • Grinding fresh pepper guarantees the best flavor and spice for your dish.
  • The best pepper grinder is the Peugeot Pepper Mill, an efficient and attractive classic.

Pepper is found in kitchens around the world, whether it’s dashed in tomato sauce, rubbed onto a steak, or mixed with other spices to give a cookie a kick. However, what pre-ground pepper offers in convenience, it sacrifices in quality. “When you buy pre-ground pepper, you have no idea how long it has been ground, and time will diminish its potency,” said Robyn McArthur, executive chef at the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts in Austin, Texas.

True aficionados know that there is no substitute for freshly ground pepper, but not everyone wants to break out the mortar and pestle just for a little flavor. Pepper mills make it easier to enjoy the benefits of freshly ground pepper without too much extra work. Not only does using a grinder give you the best flavor, but allows you to experiment with single source peppercorns, which can give your dish a bright and spicy pepper taste, said Ethan Frisch, co-founder of Burlap and Barrel.

We are not including salt grinders in this guide. Alex Wilkens, spice expert at The Spice House, confirmed our opinion that grinding your own salt at home allows you to control the texture, but the flavor will be the same as the pre-ground salt from the grocery store.

We tested eight pepper mills for speed, accuracy, and durability, as well as consulted three experts on the differences between pepper grinds and why grinding your own pepper is worth it.

Here are the best pepper mills and salt grinders of 2021

The best pepper mill overall

product image of Peugeot pepper mill, the best pepper mill overall in 2021

An industry classic, the Peugeot Pepper Mill comes in a variety of sizes, looks beautiful on any table, and accurately grinds pepper in six settings.

Pros: Easy to adjust, even fine grind, attractive finish

Cons: Coarse grind in on the finer side

The Peugeot Paris u’Select Pepper Mill is a classic; intuitive to use and beautiful to display. You adjust the setting by rotating a labeled band of wood at the mill’s base. Of the mills with specific grind settings, it was the easiest to turn, and because the band is located at the base, you don’t have to worry about the mill coming apart as you adjust it. 

The hour-glass shape of the mill is easy to grip, and the texture of the wood feels more natural than others that were highly polished, which I preferred. No matter what setting you’re on, the pepper comes out in a neat circle and doesn’t spray wide. 

The coarsest grind was finer than others we tested and the Peugeot was average in terms of speed. We tested the 7-inch mill, but multiple sizes are available if you’re looking for something with more capacity.

The best electric pepper mill

product image of Epare pepper mill, the best electric pepper mill in 2021

The Epare is a quiet electric mill with a cap to prevent pepper dust from settling and a streamlined, stainless steel body.

Pros: Motor isn’t loud, can be operated with one hand

Cons: Doesn’t come with batteries, bulky

This battery-operated electric pepper mill stood out for its modern design and simple operation. It was the only truly one handed pepper mill I tested. The mill is top heavy with four AA batteries stored in the upper portion, but the stainless steel construction is sturdy enough to keep it from tipping over. 

When you grind the pepper, a small LED light shines from the mouth of the mill. It is not obtrusive, but illuminates a small area of the plate so you can see where your pepper in landing. The coarseness adjuster is underneath the mill, and provides an accurate range of fine to coarse. 

Especially with the finer grinds, efficiency was the main downside with the Epare: it was among the slowest mills I tested. However, if you’re looking for a mill easy to operate with limited hand strength, this was the best.

The best budget pepper mill

product image of Kuhn Rikon pepper mill, the best budget pepper mill in 2021

The Kuhn Rikon Ratchet Grinder was intuitive to use, easy to fill, and costs less than most of the mills we tested.

Pros: Side opening for easy filling, ratchet is easy to use and pull

Cons: Construction doesn’t feel very sturdy, leaves pepper dust if set down after grinding

The only ratchet grinder we tested, the Kuhn Rikon had a small but accurate range of grinds. The adjustment dial is under the mill’s opening, with the directions for fine and coarse clearly labeled. You pour peppercorns through an opening on the side of the mill, so you don’t have to unscrew anything or worry about losing small pieces.

The exterior of the mill does not feel particularly durable, but the internal grinding mechanism is ceramic. Wilkens says that ceramic grinders are likely to stay sharp and not wear down. The main issue is that if you leave the ratchet handle in any position other than straight up, you will inadvertently grind pepper when you try to adjust it.

Our testing methodology

image of pepper ground on various settings during testing for the best pepper mill in 2021

We consulted three experts to learn about common practices in the spice industry and misconceptions about pepper preparation and usage. We spoke with Ethan Frisch, co-founder of Burlap and Barrel; Robyn McArthur, executive chef at the Austin, Texas Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts; and Alex Wilkens, spice expert at The Spice House

We used Ea Sar Black Pepper from Burlap and Barrel for our testing. 

Grind size: We compared all mills by grinding pepper on the finest and coarsest possible settings. The finest setting should produce a powder-like consistency and the coarsest setting should be noticeably larger, but still a consistent grind size. For mills with precise settings, we ground pepper on each setting and compared the grounds.

Speed: We estimated the speed of the mill by grinding on the finest setting for 10 seconds and then measuring the amount of ground pepper produced. 

Capacity: We measured the capacity of each mill by filling the mill reservoir with peppercorns and then pouring those peppercorns into measuring cups. 

Ease of use: We looked at how easy and intuitive it was to adjust the grinders and whether they could be operated with one hand. We also evaluated how comfortable they were to turn. After using the grinders, we set them down on a white tablecloth to see if pepper dust settled onto the table.

Durability: Experts told us that ceramic mechanisms last the longest, so we ranked mills with ceramic grinders higher. We will continue to evaluate our top picks for durability, looking for changes in grind accuracy and loosening of the mobile pieces.

What else we tested

image of five pepper mills lined up as part of testing for the best pepper mills in 2021

What else we recommend and why

Le Creuset Pepper Mill: The Le Creuset Pepper Mill is easy to clean and use in a busy kitchen, and it comes in a variety of striking colors. The sturdy, acrylic-coated plastic won’t be damaged by moisture and can be wiped down with a damp cloth. There are some reviews that suggest long-term durability issues, and we will update this guide if we discover any throughout longer use. 

Cole and Mason Derwent Pepper Mill: This mill was the most efficient of any we tested, producing almost half a teaspoon of pepper in 10 seconds. This mill had the best range from fine to coarse, producing both powder consistency and coarser grind easily. However, it has a clear body that leaves the peppercorns exposed to light and heat, which experts said can degrade flavor. Additionally, the adjusting mechanism was very hard to rotate.

Fletcher’s Mill 8-inch Border Grill Mill: This is a popular mill and there weren’t many flaws with its performance. Rather, it didn’t stand out among the other mills, which is why it didn’t earn a top place. 

Zwilling Matte Black Pepper Grinder: This mill was efficient and one of the fastest tested. It did a great job at making an even coarse grind, but the fine grind was indistinguishable from the coarse. Additionally, the silicone exterior showed my hand prints after I used it.

What we don’t recommend and why

Kamenstein Dual Salt and Pepper Mill: This mill was the only dual-sided grinder we tested; one end meant for pepper and the other for salt. However, it was the hardest to fill and produced inaccurate grinds on all three of its three settings.

What we’re testing next

Trudeau Graviti Matte Black Pepper Mill: This electric mill starts grinding when flipped upside down. You adjust the coarseness and fill the mill rightside up, but we’re curious what happens if you accidentally knock the mill over. It requires six AAA batteries, which could make it unwieldy, but possibly last longer.

OXO Good Grips Pepper Grinder: The mouth of this mill is on the top to prevent pepper dust from settling on the table. You rotate the mill by turning a soft, non-slip grip, which may make this mill a good option for those with less grip strength.

FAQs

image of a pepper mill taken apart as part of testing for the best pepper mill in 2021

Why should I grind peppercorns instead of buying pre-ground pepper?

The main reason to grind your own pepper is taste and quality. Once peppercorns are ground and the oils are released, the flavor weakens. The flavor dulls even further over time as the powder is exposed to heat, air, and light, according to McArthur. It is also easier to falsify the quality and origins of pre-ground pepper, said Frisch. “Most pepper in the supermarket has been through so many steps that it’s impossible to trace.” 

Not only will your food taste better with pepper you grind yourself, but you’ll use less of the spice because freshly ground pepper has a stronger flavor. You can also adjust the coarseness of the grind based on your preference or what you’re cooking. Grinding pepper yourself, especially with one of the mills we recommend above, is an easy way to get involved with your food.


How are pepper mills different from spice grinders?

Depending on the pepper mill’s material and grinding mechanism, you can grind small and uniformly shaped spices in a pepper mill. For example, cardamom seeds are great in a pepper grinder, but you’ll need a spice grinder for cinnamon sticks. However, most pepper mills cannot be cleaned with water, only brushed out with a dry cloth, so once you grind another spice in your mill, the flavor may linger. 


How do pepper mills work?

Pepper mills use burr grinders. When you rotate the mill, peppercorns are forced between two grooved discs that crush the spice, according to McArthur. The mill is essentially a smaller and less powerful coffee burr grinder.


Can I put salt in my pepper mill?

Salt can only be ground by a ceramic grinding mechanism because salt corrodes metal over time. If your pepper mill has a ceramic mechanism, then you can put salt in it.


Are there different uses for fine and coarse pepper grinds?

The finer the grind, the more the pepper will dissolve into whatever you’re cooking. With a coarser grind, you’re more likely to get a prominent bit of peppercorn while eating. McArthur recommends using a coarser grind when cooking with high heat because a finer grind will lose its flavor faster.


Why should I buy single source peppercorns?

Commodity, or commercial, peppercorns are picked underripe so that they can last through long shipping and packaging processes. Peppercorns continue to ripen off the vine, and while they don’t go bad or rot, they lose flavor about two years after harvest, according to Frisch. That might seem like a long time, but Frisch says that in the commodity spice chain, it takes three to four years to get from the farm to the supermarket shelves. 

Single source peppercorns are harvested and shipped in a shorter period of time, so you have a longer window between purchasing them and when they start losing flavor.

Check out more kitchen tool guides

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Thrive Market has an extensive healthy-snack selection that caters to many dietary restrictions – here are 10 favorites

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

thrive market snacks

  • Online grocery store Thrive Market sells a ton of healthy and socially conscious products.
  • It’s great for anyone with dietary restrictions or those looking for healthier snacks.
  • Thrive Market’s selection is vast, with better prices than health food stores like Whole Foods.

A few members of Insider Reviews have been members of Thrive Market for the past couple of years and rave about the curated selection of healthy and tasty food and snacks.

Related Article Module: Thrive Market is an online grocery store that sells organic foods at wholesale prices – here’s what it’s like to use

If you’re not familiar with Thrive Market, think of it as an online-only, healthier version of Costco. Members pay a yearly fee ($60) that gives them access to food products at relatively low prices and for every membership purchased, Thrive gives one to a family in need. Here’s a full review from one of our senior reporters.

Thrive doesn’t have much in terms of fresh produce so I shop mostly for nonperishable options like pasta and sauces to fill in the gaps after a trip to the grocery store. But my favorite thing about Thrive? Its awesome snack collection.

There are hundreds of tasty goods that often cater to dietary restrictions including gluten-free, keto-friendly, or plant-based. Pricing and availability can vary a bit based on region, so some items may be out of stock in your area.

Here are the best ones we’ve tried and loved from Thrive Market.

The best snacks on Thrive Market:

Rick’s Picks Sour Snacking Pickles

Image of Best Thrive Market Snacks Rick's Pick Garlic Dill Snacking Pickles

Rick’s Garlic Dill Snacking Pickles, $1.79

I love eating pickles, but it’s hard to take them as an on-the-go snack. Thankfully, popular pickle brand Rick’s Picks offers little snack-size pickles in travel-size, single-serve packaging. I gobble these up whenever I have them on hand. I’ve even thought about pouring some of the leftover brine into a cocktail. They’re low calorie, vegan, gluten-free, and kosher.

Bare Snacks Organic Apple Chips

Bare snacks

Bare Snacks Organic Apple Chips, $4.79

I love these because they give you the crunch of a chip and the health factor of eating an apple. I’ve read that it’s relatively easy to dehydrate apples and make them into chips — you literally just stick a tray of apple slices into your oven. But when I don’t have time to do that (which is often), I go for these organic snacks that are gluten-free and non-GMO. Bonus: You get both Fuji and red apples in every pack.

Luke’s Organic White Cheddar Cheese Puffs

Luke's Organic cheese puffs

Luke’s Organic White Cheddar Cheese Puffs, $3.29

I always loved Pirate’s Booty when I was a kid, and these taste just like them but with a way more amped-up flavor. There’s a salty tang to these, probably because buttermilk is one of the ingredients in this gluten-free, non-GMO snack.  

That’s It Fruit Bars: Apple and Cherry

That's It bars

That’s It Fruit Bars: Apple and Cherry, 12 pack, $16.99

These fruit bars are sweet without being cloying, and they only contain apples and cherries — absolutely no other ingredients added. I love to grab one of these bars for breakfast when I want to start off my day with fiber, vitamin C, and a little natural sugar. They’re small enough to feel like a snack, but substantial enough to stave off my hunger at the beginning of the day. They come in other delicious flavors as well, including Apple and Strawberry, Apple and Mango, and Apple and Blueberry.

Thrive Market Non-GMO Avocado Oil Potato Chips, Salt & Vinegar

Thrive Market healthy snacks

Thrive Market Non-GMO Avocado Oil Potato Chips, Salt & Vinegar, $2.37

This chips are kettle-cooked with avocado oil and then sprinkled with salt and vinegar for a super crunchy and tasty snack.

I love that these chips only have three ingredients: potatoes, avocado oil, and salt and vinegar seasoning. Plus, they’re made from non-GMO and ethically sourced ingredients, and are kosher too.

Thrive Market Dragon Fruit Chips

Thrive Market dragon fruit chips

Thrive Market Dragon Fruit Chips, $2.99

I never really considered dragon fruit as a snack or smoothie addition until I tried Starbucks’ Mango Dragonfruit Refresher. I loved that the dried dragon fruit pieces in the drink were sweet with a little tang, and of course, they turned my drink pink. I bought these fruit chips looking for a similar experience, and I’ve found it’s a fun fruit to snack on when I’m looking to mix things up. They have a good amount of fiber and vitamin C, and since they only contain one ingredient — dragon fruit — they can an easy snack for those who are looking for something paleo, gluten-free, or vegan.

Zellee Organic Fruit Jel Variety Pack

zellee fruit jel pack

Zellee Organic Fruit Jel Variety Pack, 6 pouches, $8.99

If I had to describe Zellee’s Fruit Jel in three words, they would be “Jell-O, but healthy.” These tasty snacks come in individual pouches you usually see with baby food or applesauce, so they’re convenient to take on the go. They taste like real fruit and get their jelly-ness from konjac root, so there’s no gelatin and therefore, no bovines were harmed in the making of this product. They’re vegan, gluten-free, and organic.

Thrive Market Lightly Salted Plantain Chips

plantain chips

Thrive Market Lightly Salted Plantain Chips, $2.18

The plantain chips are made out of three ingredients —plantains, non-hydrogenated vegetable oil, and sea salt — and they’re delicious on their own or with a dip. Expect to open and finish a bag of these in one or two sittings, even though it’s a pretty good size for $2 per bag.  They’re also vegan, non-GMO, and free of preservatives and sweeteners and additives. — Mara Leighton, senior reporter

Simple Mills Fine Ground Sea Salt Almond Flour Crackers

crackers

Simple Mills Fine Ground Sea Salt Almond Flour Crackers, $4.27

These crackers are a good, simple snack that you can eat in handfuls without feeling greasy and lethargic after. They’re also vegan and gluten-free. — Mara Leighton, senior reporter

Thrive Market Organic Dark Chocolate Almonds

thrive chocolate

Thrive Market Organic Dark Chocolate Almonds, $14.24

These dark chocolate almonds are expensive at $15, but they’re also delicious and the chocolate is layered on nice and thick over the almonds. The bag is decently sized, so it lasted me a few sweet-tooth snacking sessions. They’re also certified organic and reportedly ethically sourced. — Mara Leighton, senior reporter

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Thrive Market is an online grocery store that sells organic foods at wholesale prices, and right now you can get 25% off your first order

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

Thrive Market

  • Thrive Market is an online grocery store that curates the best organic, non-GMO groceries, beauty, and cleaning supplies.
  • Its prices are 25% to 50% off regular retail prices, though you have to pay a membership fee ($60/year or $10/month).
  • I saved more than $100 on my first order at Thrive Market than if I were to shop at a regular grocery store.

Membership (Monthly) (small)Table of Contents: Masthead StickyRelated Article Module: The 5 best places to buy groceries online in 2021

When I first tried Thrive Market, I was just coming out of essentially a reverse-cleanse: a 12-pack of macaroni and cheese that I bought at a “great deal” discount on Amazon groceries. A couple of months of eating that and an unrelated health scare, and I was ready to commit to a complete pantry overhaul. That’s when I started shopping at Thrive Market.

What is Thrive Market?

Thrive Market bills itself as “wholesome food at wholesale prices.” It’s an online wholesale grocery store that curates the best organic, non-GMO products at a discounted rate of 25% to 50% off retail prices to its members.

You have two membership options. The annual membership costs $59.95 (or $5/month) and is billed once yearly. If you opt to do a monthly membership instead, you’ll pay $9.95 per month.

You’ll get free shipping on your first order over $25, plus all orders $49 or more. Thrive Market currently ships to all contiguous US states.

How it works:

  • Sign up for free: You can browse the catalog, see member saving, and receive 25% off your first purchase.
  • Start a free 30-day trial: You can start a free 30-day membership trial with your first purchase on Thrive Market. Cancel anytime.
  • Join as a member: After your trial, you can sign up for a paid membership. If you do, you’re also sponsoring a free membership for a low-income family.

You can shop Thrive Market category, by values (ie. gluten-free, paleo, raw, vegan, etc.), or by current deals.

What can you buy at Thrive Market?

Thrive Market carries 6,000+ healthy products, and you can shop hundreds of categories. You’ll find food, beauty, bath and body, health, babies and kids, home, pet supplies, and the all-inclusive “other” from brands like Burt’s Bees, Acure, Annie’s, Seventh Generation, KIND, Bragg, Califa, Milkadamia, and Primal Kitchen.

While you can buy staples like meats and seafood, the rest of Thrive Market’s selection is mostly shelf-stable options. For produce, you’ll probably still want to stop at your neighborhood store, farmers’ market, or another grocery delivery option.

In addition to offering thousands of organic brands you could find at your local grocery store and online, they also have an in-house Thrive Market brand that packages organic products (the equivalent of your supermarket chain’s generic brand).

Thrive Market
Thrive Market’s $60/year or $10/month membership gets you access to savings on healthy foods.

If you spend a lot of time researching healthy foods, have a dedicated diet or food restrictions, or consistently buy organic or non-GMO foods online, you’ll likely get the most value with Thrive Market.

Quality is a concern with organic substitutes, and it’s helpful to have customer ratings to simplify things as you go on Thrive Market. The healthy eating community is an intense one, so it’s nice that Thrive Market makes use of all that helpful, accumulative passion in a way that I, a newcomer, can utilize too.

The 25% to 50% price difference also could help to close the gap between the sometimes inflated “organic” prices at some grocery stores, making Thrive Market a viable choice for the average person on a budget.

If ordering food online seems risky to you, it’s good to note that you’ll be protected by a return policy. If anything is wrong with your groceries or your order, though, let them know here within 21 days.

When we price checked some of the items, Thrive Market was not always cheaper, but when it was, it usually offered a large enough gap in savings to be substantial overall. You could save more by buying local, though your selection may not be as wide or the process as convenient.

And if you’re concerned about getting value out of your membership, Thrive Market guarantees their annual membership will pay for itself. If your membership fee was $60, but you only saved $40 in a year, they will automatically give you the difference ($20) in Thrive Market credit after you renew.

Review of Thrive Market

Thrive Market
Thrive Market stocks popular brands like Annie’s and Simple Mills, and has its own in-house Thrive Market brand too.

I ordered my groceries from Thrive Market in pursuit of a pantry not entirely reliant upon mac and cheese. In my first Thrive order, the total was $99.16 and the savings listed were $145.33.

The savings claims held up, and I technically paid off the $60 annual membership fee in my first order. The food was delicious, and I discovered new better-for-you snacks. I also found Thrive to be surprisingly cheaper for some of my favorite skincare products, like this Aztec Clay Mask.

Thrive Market carries ethically sourced meat and seafood in large bulk “box” options, but the options are slightly more limited than the average meat and seafood counter at a grocery store. I also don’t have space in my freezer or fridge to handle $100+ worth of meat, but if you do, it could be another great place to see your savings.

My colleague, Owen Burke, a lifelong fisherman with a background in commercial fishing and tending oyster bars, tried out Thrive’s bevy of seafood on offer, and had this to say:

“I tried Thrive Market’s Deluxe Seafood box, which runs you about $170. This is not something you’ll want to buy unless you have a solid shelf of freezer space to spare, but I’ll commend Thrive and call this nothing short of a feat on their part. You’re getting six different species of seafood, and everything I received was wild-caught, and not in some far-flung waters using questionable methods and labor practices, something with which the industry is rife. These might not be the absolute best practices for every product, but Thrive is going leaps and bounds above your run-of-the-mill grocery store.

My favorite was the shrimp. They were superbly packed, vacuum-sealed, and packaged, which is among the most important things to do with any seafood. Mess that part up in any way (which, admittedly, is an easy thing to do), and you’re fighting a losing game against oxidation and freezer burn. These shrimp still looked fresh after I thawed them and pulled them out of the packaging. They were beautifully peeled and deveined, and they had no hint of off-flavor that you sometimes get when shrimp (especially frozen shrimp) aren’t handled all that well. I give them an A+ here.

The sockeye salmon was also vacuum-sealed well, and while I always appreciate skin-on salmon fillets, they often come at the cost of turned (brown) blood meat, which imparts that”fishy” flavor associated with frozen fish. This is per usual, though, when it comes to frozen salmon, but I recommend eating around it, if not to avoid the taste then to avoid the toxins blood meat bears. You’ll also get four to five fillets, which means four to five servings (about six ounces a pop).

The lobster tails are very nicely processed, deveined, and split so you can pop them right in the oven or on the grill. They’re not vacuum-sealed, but loose on a tray covered in plastic, which lends them to some freezer burn and ice buildup, but that really doesn’t create the problem for lobster as it does for fish, due to the tough quality of the meat.

The scallops I received provided two servings, and while they weren’t vacuum-sealed as I would have liked, they were plenty tasty. Just note that these are not your jumbo-sized U10 (under 10/pound) scallops, but they were tasty and clean (free of residual sand and mud). You can find better scallops out there, but for what you’re getting for the price of this box, I’d file no complaints.

It varies depending on what you get, but in all, you’re looking at 10-15 meals of fresh-frozen (that’s fish that was frozen fresh, as soon as it was processed) wild-caught protein of high quality. That’s something like $11-$17 dollars a dish, which is about as good as you’re going to do with high-quality fresh seafood unless you’ve got friends at the fishing docks.”

The bottom line

Thrive Market
Thrive Market carries meat and fish to be ordered in bulk, but it isn’t likely to be the average person’s main source of meats.

I wish it was possible to find everything here (fresh fruit, more options for meat), but ultimately the discounts and the easy delivery make using Thrive worth it. And I wish it was free shipping always instead of just orders of $49 and up, but I typically clear that just by restocking my favorite basics. All in all, I liked using Thrive Market regularly for healthy snacks, healthy-but-fast foods, and kitchen basics like pasta sauce and olive oil.

If you need an added incentive, Thrive Market also has a program called “Thrive Gives” which gifts a free membership to someone in need through Feeding America and the Boys and Girls Club or directly through the site for every paid membership. The free membership also includes teachers, veterans, and first responders.

Start a free 30-day trial to Thrive Market

Membership (Monthly) (small)

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