Sprig is a mobile app that allows you to order healthy meals and have them delivered to your door in five to ten minutes. All meals are prepared by an in-house kitchen staff that’s led by former Google head chef, Nate Keller.
The app is only currently available in San Francisco. In New York, Seamless and GrubHub feed people regularly. But out west, those services either don’t show you many options, or the food takes ages to get delivered to your door. Restaurants close on the early side. It’s the perfect city for an on-demand food service to pop up.
While in San Francisco, I tried Sprig. Multiple times. It became my go-to source for any meal that wasn’t already booked for a meeting, since it’s hard to cook when you’re travelling. It made me spoiled, to the point that when the app told me demand was too high for the service and no meals were available, I panicked. Tech companies like Uber have brought us into an on-demand world. Waiting, for entitled on-demanders, feels unbearable.
The first time I tried Sprig was for lunch. I selected one of three meals being offered, the buffalo chicken salad, and a drink. Sprig always has one vegetarian option and one drink. Sometimes it’s Stumptown Cold Brew coffee. Sometimes it’s juice. I purchased a Greens & Company drink to wash down the blue cheese.
When you select the meal and checkout, you can either use a location icon to show where you are on a map or type your delivery address in. The app stores your credit card information so the second check-out is a breeze. Sprig says 71% of the thousands of meals it delivers per week are ordered by repeat customers.
I hit send to seal my $US14 purchase. Almost instantly, I received a text from Sprig confirming the order. With Seamless, it can take ten minutes to receive an email order confirmation. A minute or two later, I received another text from Sprig telling me when my food would be delivered and by whom.
No sooner had I tweeted about my decision to try Sprig than I received a call on my cell phone. It was the Sprig delivery man, and he was waiting on Business Insider’s floor with my food.
“Were you waiting downstairs or something when I pushed ‘order?'” I joked with the man. “How did you get here so fast?” He just laughed and handed me my food.
It was delicious. Not too much buffalo sauce, which I had been afraid of. The blue cheese was crumbly and its perfect portion size didn’t overwhelm the greens or chicken. The chicken wasn’t fried, so I didn’t feel gross after scarfing down the meal. It was the best buffalo chicken salad I’ve ever had.
My next experience with Sprig wasn’t as good. I was at an event at 8 PM and my stomach was rumbling, so I ordered a vegetarian Sprig meal to the bar I was at. “Good luck,” my friend said. “You’ll never get Sprig at this hour.”
He was right. Sprig wouldn’t let my order go through and I got an error message:
Noooooo. I tweeted grumpily. Sprig’s account quickly responded and assured me more food was in the pipeline.
I tried again a little while later. The vegetarian meal was still out of stock, but I could order the steak meal I had been debating. This time my order went through. But the text I received from Sprig was more aligned with what I was used to at Seamless: The meal would take about an hour to reach me.
Sprig pinged me again when my food was nearby. When the delivery woman came I thanked her, put my meal in my bag, and went home. It was good.
The final time I ordered Sprig was for lunch. I noticed a few repeats on the menu. The buffalo chicken salad was back. I ordered the bean salad, which has also been repeated on the menu. If the food is good, it’s not a problem to have Sprig repeat meals and it probably makes sense from an inventory perspective. But with only three meals a day to choose from, Sprig meals might repeat themselves a little too frequently.
My bean salad took a touch longer to get to me than the first time I ordered Sprig, but it was still lightning speed compared to other services.
Bottom line: If you’re in San Francisco and have time to feast on sushi and tacos, there’s no mobile app that’s going to replace the restaurant experience. But if you’re pressed for time, unable to cook and you want a snappy, healthy solution that won’t overwhelm you with choices, Sprig is a great option during.
One downer: Its dinner service isn’t open very late (it’s only available Monday to Thursday from 5:00 to 9:30 PM) and Sprig doesn’t deliver food on weekends. There’s no dinner offered on Friday nights either.
Sprig, which raised $US11.7 million from venture capitalists, has competitors like Munchery. I didn’t try that service because I wasn’t aware of it until the end of my trip.
It’s got a few kinks to work out but it seems to be fulfilling co-founder Nagan Biyani’s mission to become the “easiest way to eat healthy in the world.”