When my third daughter was born, I had three children under the age of five and a husband who traveled a lot. We don’t live near family, and without much support, I felt completely overwhelmed. Hence, the reason there is a near-five-year gap between daughters three and four! (Read about how having one last baby changed me as a mother – this is one of my most popular posts.)
At the time, someone suggested I try online grocery shopping. I was hesitant at first… I mean, have a stranger pick out my fruit? What if they gave me (gasp!) overripe bananas when I wanted greenish ones?! That would be disaster.
But it seemed like the days were getting shorter while my stress level grew, so I decided to give it a try… and my life changed overnight! Seriously. I love it that much. Now that I have four children, the cover photo pretty much sums up my trips to the grocery store when they are with me. The woman is smiling in the cartoon, but an afternoon like that doesn’t exactly look (or feel!) like a barrel of laughs to me.
My friends joke that I am like a walking infomercial when it comes to online grocery shopping. I’m always promoting it. But that’s just how great I think it is! Read below for the reasons why…
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1. NO MORE SHOPPING WITH THE KIDS
Need I say more? My #1 reason to try online grocery shopping is a no-brainer. Anyone who has ever gone to the store with a child knows that it can be fun for a while to have them with you, but this supermarket bliss will be short-lived. Things will deteriorate. They always do – especially if it isn’t a quick in-and-out trip to the store. Any lengthy shopping spree always has some hiccups along the way if children are involved. It’s like a rule. Think how much more efficient you’d be if you weren’t saying “no” every five seconds… I have a feeling this woman here is about to lose her marbles. Just a hunch.
2. SAVES TIME
Think about how much time goes into grocery shopping. You drive there, walk around the store, stand in line (not only at check-out but at the deli – ugh!), load your car back up, and then drive home. When I am buying our groceries for the bulk of the week, it takes me about 90 minutes to do all of the above. When I simply drive up and push the button, I remove the shopping portion of the equation – that easily gives me an hour back in my day. (Oh what to do with all that extra time?! I may even have time to shower!)
* I know there are various grocery delivery services such as Peapod. It’s definitely worth checking to see if that’s in your area!! It’s not in mine. :( With a service like Peapod, you save even more time because you don’t even have to go pick it up!
3. LESS FRUSTRATION
I don’t know about you, but during most of my grocery store excursions there is usually at least one thing that I can’t find. Either because it’s an item I have never needed before or because the store has moved it around on me. I zig-zag around the store trying to find it and ultimately need to track someone down to help me. So I figure – why not let a grocery store employee shop for me? They certainly have a better sense of where things are, and I don’t need to waste time traipsing all over the place.
4. NO MORE IMPULSE BUYING
Do you find that when you are hungry, suddenly everything you pass looks good? Or if the kids are with you, do you often wind up with some sugary boxed item that your children may not even like but begged you to buy because they liked the character on it? Been there, done that – lots of times. Neither the grownups nor the kids can make impulsive purchases when you are doing your shopping on the computer!
5. SAVES MONEY
There is a small fee to have someone shop for you. The store that I use charges $4.95 each time, or you can pay $16.95 for the month and use the service as many times as you’d like. Well worth it if you ask me. Some stores even allow you to use “points” you accumulate from shopping with them – if so, you may occasionally pay nothing for the service.
But even when you are paying someone to do your shopping for you, time is money. I feel like the small amount of money you may spend is definitely worth it to get an hour of time back in your day. You will also save money by not making impulse buys (see above), as you will only purchase what you really need. Oftentimes I easily waste $4.95 (the cost of the service) on a poor purchase or on something that goes bad before we eat it because I bought too much in the first place… so I figure I’m breaking even anyhow. And you are less likely to make those mistakes if you are ordering online. (By the way – yes, you can still use coupons when shopping online; and yes, you can see the current sale price if something has been reduced.)
6. YOU STAY MORE ORGANIZED
When I’m really on top of my game, I order my groceries on Sunday night and pick them up on Monday. I try to sit down and plan out the week’s meals, accounting for leftovers I can use throughout the week (for example, we may have grilled chicken early in the week so I can purposely have leftover chicken to use later for things like chicken divan…) Ordering a large amount of groceries like that forces me to stay organized so I can minimize random trips to the store as the week progresses. When I’m the one doing the shopping (with the kids), on the other hand, I’m more likely to run in quickly to pick up a few things for that night, and pretty soon I’ve been to the store five days in a row… totally inefficient! (I like efficiency, as you’ll see in this post I wrote with 30 tips to help you tame the laundry beast!)
Also, once you have your list established online, you quickly flip through it and click on what you need. Almost always I will have forgotten some things until I see them on the screen. Having a master list of items I have previously purchased helps me to remember everything so we rarely run out of things.
7. THE WEATHER BECOMES A NON-FACTOR
How many times have you needed to go to the grocery store, but the weather was miserable and you just didn’t want to deal with it? You’d have to run inside and then shop when you’re all wet – and now you’re freezing because supermarkets are always cold. And then you still have to load everything up in the car and return your cart (like all good citizens do). Throw in a kid or two (or four) and that sounds downright awful if you ask me. I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten ready to leave the gym and realized it was pouring. My friends would say, “Ugh! Now I have to go to the grocery store in this!!” Being the walking infomercial that I am, I would give them a wink and say, “Not me – I ordered mine last night… this girl is just pulling up to the curb!” It’s a beautiful thing. :)
8. MAKES IT EASIER FOR SOMEONE TO HELP YOU
My husband is great about helping out when he can. Many times he will ask if we need something that he can pick up on his way home from work. Now instead of giving him a long list of things that he has to remember – and then go inside and shop for – I can just ask him to swing through the pickup lane, push the button, and everything that I’ve ordered for us seems to magically appear while an employee loads up the car for him. He doesn’t even have to get out. Not a bad deal for him – or me! This is an especially helpful option when you have a new baby. Your husband, a relative staying with you, a sitter… anybody can go pick up your groceries for you while you hunker down with your little one at home.
9. CAN USE OTHER LOCATIONS WITHIN THE CHAIN
Once you set your list up online, you will probably use the supermarket closest to you 99% of the time. But know that you can simply select another store, and you can have your shopping done there instead. Perhaps you or your spouse is on the other side of town – it might be more convenient to pick your food up from a different location that day. You don’t always have to use the same store.
Another great option is to order your food before going on a vacation. Let’s say you are renting a house or staying in a hotel with a refrigerator/kitchen. After a long day of traveling, the last thing you and your family want to do is spend time getting groceries. You just want to GET THERE already. If you can find a location near your travel destination, how great would it be to order online before you travel and then simply pull in and have your items ready to go for you? I guarantee your family will be impressed if you can pull that off!
10. GOOD SERVICE
When I tell people that I swear by online grocery shopping, the first thing they usually say is, “Oh, I don’t think I’d like that… I like to pick out my own produce and meat.” Well, so do I. But I enjoy all the perks more (see numbers 1-9 above)! Much to my surprise, though, I have learned that the service is actually really good. There is a spot for a “note” by every single item you purchase in case you want to indicate anything special. You can write “prefer greenish bananas” or “please sub peaches for nectarines if you think they look better” and so on… every once in a while, I will wind up with something that I may not have purchased if I’d seen it myself. But you can always return something if you’re really unhappy. And usually all is perfectly fine – after all, no one would pick out moldy raspberries for you on purpose.
Over time, you will probably get to know the staff. They call you if something is out of stock and ask you if you want a substitute. They get to know your likes and dislikes. The employees at the store we use even throw in some free cookies from the bakery – one for each of our girls. The kids love that, of course – they don’t even miss trying to weasel some sugary cereal out of me in the aisles anymore. So I’m happy, the kids are happy – we all win!
Have you ever tried online grocery shopping before? What’s your experience been like? If you try it for the first time, let me know how it goes! :)
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* More and more supermarket chains are offering online shopping with pickup. Check to see if yours is one of them!