Online Grocery Shopping. I am CONVINCED it is the #1 timesaver for a busy mom or dad…
There are necessary evils in life. Cleaning toilets. Paying taxes. And grocery shopping.
Luckily, I’ve found OUTSTANDING workarounds for two out of three of these banes of our existences. Interested?
The thing about grocery shopping is this. It isn’t ALWAYS horrendous. Sometimes, it can be downright pleasurable.
There’s nothing like the feeling of walking around a plushy, uppity grocery store. Especially at night, when most people are at home or doing something more exciting.
I’ll enter the store, where I’m immediately hit with the smell of eucalyptus…or is that tea tree oil? I don’t know. I’m not high brow enough to know the difference.
Straight out of the gate I hit up the store’s own elegant little espresso stand and order a triple long shot tall in a grande cup decaf single mocha latte with 1 pump of vanilla and 1 pump of hazelnut no whip extra hot extra foam well stirred.
What? I want to look like I fit in. And everyone knows long-winded order = fancy. Duh.
Tall mocha blah blah blah latte in hand, the luxury of shopping alone ensues. Ahhhh..just me, and the super-high-end produce. I hang out in that spot where you can grind your own peanut butter.
I drool on the glass-encased cheese display. Then I head to the “crunchy people” aisles where you can blend your own essential oils and find things like “alfalfa powder” and 18 vitamins that I’ve never heard of but promise to make me as smart as Einstein and as beautiful as Marilyn Monroe. Pure grocery shopping bliss.
The problem is that this kind of blissful, grocery-store scenario has happened to me only once in this lifetime that I can recall. Once and only once.
Typically, my shopping experience goes something more like this…
We need a cleanup on aisle 3⤴️
What’s that, you ask? Oh, that’s my three-year-old. He has decided he is done grocery shopping. 95% of his energy reserves were expended in the tantrum. Yep, the tantrum that began in the frozen food section after he was unsuccessful in his negotiation for the purchase of a gallon of triple rainbow ice cream.
Said tantrum continued through the dairy section, past the butcher, the baker, and if there had been a candlestick maker, we would have given him a show, too.
Finally, after heading through the personal hygiene section, he was finally out of steam and threw himself to the ground. Conveniently at the battery section. Perfect place to re-charge for round two…drama in the checkout line. This is reality, friends. And the impetus for…
Workaround #1. Online grocery shopping.
Online food shopping is one of the BEST time savers I have found in life. Seriously. LIFESAVER. Since I started online food shopping about a year ago, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve walked into a grocery store. Even better, same goes for the number of times I’ve had to endure the whining and complaining when my offspring are told it’s time to go to the store.
If you’ve been one of those people who has been slow to get into this online grocery game, I get it. I used to be there, too. “But they won’t pick out the best cantaloupe.” “What if they see my order of deodorant?” Come on, friends.
Let’s face it, at this point, most of our lives are so boring that honestly, no one gives a rat’s you-know-what that we ordered the super clinical-strength deodorant made for especially stinky people.
If the online food shopper wants to laugh at my order of organic kale plus a bulk order Gummi Bears, so be it. Just send your spouse to pick it up if you’re nervous 😬.
And as for not being able to select your produce by yourself, I get that, too. But, if you use the same service over and over, they probably will get to know you.
And if you’re not satisfied, the service I use, at least, is EXCELLENT at refunding me when an item isn’t up to snuff. Plus, when an item I’ve ordered isn’t available, they will call me to see if I’m ok with a certain substitution.
Quite often, I’ll end up with a more expensive brand, or a larger size of the item I had requested for the same price the item I had initially ordered.
This method of grocery shopping has seriously been a game-changer for us. Not only has it given me back AT LEAST 1 hour each week, but it has also definitely saved us money, too. How? Simple.
It’s MUCH easier to stick to the list when you’re not tempted by delicious-looking bakery displays, or some deal on dill pickles, which you don’t even like, but it’s just too great a deal to pass up. Ever happen to you?
You can’t impulse shop as easily from your couch. The satisfaction of that Snickers bar you see in the check-out lane just doesn’t have the same power of immediate gratification when you know you won’t be seeing it until tonight. Or the next day, even.
As you can tell, I am ALL IN on this online food shopping thing. And because this has been such an overwhelmingly positive experience for me…I SO want this to happen for you, too!
Once you try shopping from the comfort of your couch…in your pj’s and comfy socks or have the ability to grocery shop from your smartphone while chasing your little one around the playground at the park, I triple dog dare you to say you’ll ever go back. Yep, I broke out the TRIPLE DOG DARE. That’s serious.
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty. There are TONS of these types of services popping up everywhere now. If you don’t see your preferred grocer mentioned here, be sure to check on their website as well…chances are, if they don’t have a service now, they will soon.
1. Amazon Fresh
Groceries from Amazon are available through their regular website, BUT, for produce and perishables, their current service is called “Amazon Fresh”, and although it’s ramping up, it’s not yet widely available. Plus, the current buy-in to participate in the service is a $14.99/month for Amazon Prime members (so that’s on top of the annual fee).
Their “Prime Pantry” service is also an option for non-perishables. The premise is that you get a discount for filling up a whole box of items before it ships. I’ve never used this service myself because you have to order A LOT of stuff to fill up a pantry box…and by the time my box is half full, we’ve opted to go for a dreaded Costco run instead (spoiler alert: but now even COSTCO is getting in on the delivery game…see #5)
2.Wal-Mart Grocery Pick-Up & Delivery
Also ramping up online food shopping services is Wal-Mart. Personally, I find their pick-up process a bit too cumbersome at this point, but I’d be shocked if they didn’t continue to improve this service as it’s only getting more popular. They currently offer the pickup service for free as long as you are completing a purchase of $30 worth of merchandise or more.
As far as delivery goes, at the time of this post update, they had only rolled out the delivery services to a number of markets in the US. The fee for delivery is currently set at $9.95.
If you want to try the service out, here is a link to a $10 off coupon.
3. Fresh Direct
This boutique-style food delivery service prides itself on providing a farm-to-table approach, sourcing its product from over 60 local farms and artisans. They have an environmental mission and value sustainable products.
Their offerings include many organic options. Additionally, they sell a full line of prepared meals, a catering division, and even an in-house flower shop…all ordered online and delivered straight to your door.
4. Instacart – Whole Foods, Target, Wegmans, Costco, Safeway, Harris Teeter…even Petco Delivery!
Instacart was started out in Silicon Valley by a former Amazon employee. Basically, the company employs shoppers to shop for you at various grocery stores with whom they have established relationships. Instacart has negotiated with these retailers to share a percentage of the grocer’s markup so that the price of all items is the same for the customer, whether they buy it at the store, or via Instacart.
Most recently, they began working with Target. Depending on where you live, you can also shop Whole Foods, Costco, Wegmans, Safeway, Harris Teeter, and even at large pet suppliers, like Petco, via Instacart. 8/2018 update: When I wrote this article, Instacart was not yet nationwide. Now, this service can be found pretty much everywhere in the US.
5.Kroger Click List and Harris Teeter Express Lane
The Kroger Company is the nation’s largest supermarket chain. Besides Kroger stores, the company owns many other brands, including Harris Teeter, Dillons, City Market, Fry’s, Gerbes, King Soopers, Owen’s, QFC, Ralph’s, Scott’s, Smith’s, Roundy’s, Jay C, Pay Less and more. Availability of delivery and pick up services vary, so check with your local store.
I personally use Harris Teeter’s Express Lane service. Probably twice a week, actually. In certain locations, they offer home delivery, but where I live, the only option is store pick-up, which works A-OK for us. We pay a flat fee of $99.95/year, for as many online orders as we need.
You can opt to pay per event, for $4.95, but for the amount we use this service, I DEFINITELY feel like I get my $$ worth. Their online store is not hard to shop at all, and it keeps track of my typical items ordered, which makes subsequent online “trips” easier each time. Plus, I have gotten to know the employees at my local store who do the online orders, and they know now that if the romaine looks wilted, just skip it.
Kroger’s online presence is called “Click List”. As far as I’m aware, this is a pick-up only service. Delivery is not currently available.
6. Safeway Pickup / Delivery
Safeway owns a lot of other grocers all over the country, including Vons, Tom Thumb (some locations), Carrs, Pak’n Save, Randall’s and Pavillions. Store pickup is available at many locations. Delivery to a lesser extent.
Their delivery charges are $9.95 for orders more than $150, and $12.95 for orders under $150, but you can get free delivery on your first order, and I see coupons frequently. UPDATE: Now there is an option for RUSH delivery service which is also completed via Instacart.
7. Specialized CSA’s (community supported agriculture), Co-Op, Produce, Boutique Farm Delivery Services
There are a lot of services cropping up lately in this genre. Many of them are only available locally…especially the CSA’s and Co-ops. California-based Farm Fresh to You is an example.
A great resource for finding a local farm to support, or CSA to join near you is a site called Local Harvest (localharvest.org).
8. Prepared Meal Delivery
Busy, busy, busy people are we. Sometimes, even getting the groceries delivered isn’t going to cut the mustard, because we still don’t have the time to DO ANYTHING with that mustard, right? Once in a while (or fairly often), we just want a meal that’s pretty much prepped for us, without having to “eat out.”
We want to sit down at the table as a family, in our own home, and enjoy a healthy, “home-cooked” meal…even if that only means we heat it up in our oven. Whatever, it’s the sitting down and spending some quality time with our people that matters most…not how much we toiled over the meal.
There are lots of options for this type of fare. Places such as Dinner Done and Let’s Dish are set up so that you physically go into the store, preferably with a group of friends, and prep a bunch of meals which you then take home and freeze.
I’ve done this a number of times with my friends, usually, on a Friday night…cuz we are WILD like that. Not only is it super useful, but it makes for a really fun evening, and the meals are great! It’s SUCH a treat to have options like this in your freezer for those super busy weeks.
Other services deliver simplistic recipes, cooking instructions along the full complement of required ingredients to your door. Some of these include Hello Fresh, Plated and Blue Apron.
Finally, services such as Home Bistro, and Personal Chef to Go deliver a fully prepped meal that only needs to be warmed and enjoyed.
Back to those 3 life necessary evils, remember?
1. grocery shopping
2. paying taxes
3. cleaning toilets
You now know my workaround for item #1. Online grocery shopping. Skip the trip in the minivan. Let the groceries come to you.
As for item #2…taxes? You’re on your own there.
Don’t think there’s a great workaround for that issue that doesn’t involve a black and white striped leisure suit and expensive attorney’s fees. I’ve been known to have been a bit gluttonous at the grocery store once in a while, but I’m NOT a glutton for punishment by the IRS. #nospankyou
But I do have a solution for that pesky item #3, cleaning toilets. And it’s…
Straight up Bribery.
No chore can’t be accomplished when a lollipop is dangled out there, conning even the most cunning of pint-sized people into a little child labor. Works. EVERY. Time.
Happy online food shopping to one and all!!
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Instacart sadly DOES mark prices up for the customer. It’s an 8-15% markup over buying then yourself at Costco. (I’m one of those people who carries a price book around in my head.) A $4.99 rotisserie chicken becomes a $6.99 chicken from Instacart, $11.99 milk becomes $13.89 milk, etc.
Ugh. They specifically “say” that they don’t b/c they re-negotiate pricing w/ the store so they can pass along the same in store pricing to consumers. That’s a bummer to hear your experience is different!