There are necessary evils in life. Cleaning toilets. Paying taxes. And grocery shopping.
Luckily, I’ve found OUTSTANDING work arounds for two out of three of these banes of our existences. Interested?
*This post contains affiliate links. Please see our disclosure policy HERE.* 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 frou frou grocery store at night, when most sane 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, 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 scenario has happened to me once in this lifetime that I can recall. Once and only once. Typically, my shopping experience goes something more like this…
What’s that, you ask? Oh, that’s just my three year old. He has decided he is done grocery shopping. 95% of his energy reserves were expended in 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 therefore threw himself on 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…
Work around #1. Online grocery shopping.
Online grocery shopping is one of the BEST time savers I have found in life. Seriously. LIFESAVER. Since I started online grocery shopping about 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, people. 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 deodorant specially made for very stinky people. If they want to laugh at my order of organic kale plus a bulk order of 3 lbs. of 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. And if an item I’ve ordered isn’t available, they will call me to see if I’m ok with a certain substitution. And 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. And I want to help this 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 phone 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, people. 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.
One of the oldest services of this kind that I know of, PeaPod by Giant Food is widely available, at least here on the east coast of the US. Their online shopping experience has definitely improved leaps and bounds over the years. There are lots of coupon codes and frequent deals to get discounted delivery with this service, so always search for those before hitting the checkout button. In fact, here’s on for $15 off your first order! The fee structure depends on your location, and the amount of groceries you order. A larger order has a smaller delivery fee. The fees also vary based upon time of day you schedule your delivery. If you can pick up instead of opting for delivery, then the cost is more than cut in half!
Groceries from Amazon are available through their regular website, BUT, for produce and perishables, their current service is called “Amazon Fresh”, and it’s not yet widely available. Plus, the current annual buy-in to participate in the service is a steep $299. Ouch. Their “Prime Pantry” service is also an option for non-perishables. The premise being 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)
This service is not yet available in my area, so I’ve never had the opportunity to try it. But heck, if it was available, I’d certainly give it a try since Wal-Mart is known for having decent prices. Their fee structure for delivery is similar to PeaPod’s in that it varies based on your preferred time. The overall cost varies depending on your location, as well.
4. Fresh Direct
This boutique style food delivery service prides itself on providing a farm to table approach, sourcing it’s product from over 60 local farms and artisans. They have an environmental mission, and value sustainable products. They offer many organic options. Additionally, they have 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.
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, Safeway, Harris Teeter, and even at large pet suppliers, like Petco, via Instacart. This awesome company is not yet nationwide, but does cover a lot of the major metropolitan areas, as seen in the map below.
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 varies, 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 wilty, 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.
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. Delivery availability definitely depends on location. 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.
8. 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 availably 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).
9. 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.
So, that’s my grocery shopping getting not so secret secret. Skip the trip in the minivan. Let the groceries come to you. Oh, what was work around #2, you ask?
Straight up Bribery.
No chore can’t be accomplished when a lollipop is dangled out there, conning even the most cunning of underage subjects into a little child labor. Works. EVERY. Time.
And there you have it, friends. Toilet cleaning, grocery shopping and paying taxes. They may be necessary, but I prefer to “cheat” the systems a little bit. Except on the taxes, of course. I may be a glutton at the grocery store once in a while, but I’m NOT a glutton for punishment by the IRS. No, thank you.
Happy online shopping all!!