Grocery delivery is becoming more popular and readily available. If you’ve been considering making the jump, but are wondering if the convenience is worth the cost, you’re in the right place.
After trying a number of grocery delivery services and cost-savings strategies, I’ve created a guide to equip you to take advantage of the convenience at the lowest cost.
Why Choose Grocery Delivery?
A trip to the grocery store just isn't a task that I look forward to gleefully. Usually it involves trying to keep a squirming toddler in the shopping cart, or explaining to my older son why we can't buy every salty snack or sweet treat we walk by.
By the time the task is completed and I arrive home, I'm exhausted, realize I somehow missed a few items on my list and have many extras I didn't want to buy. Recently, I came home with two pool noodles!
Grocery delivery seems like a frivolous expense and I resisted it for a long time. However, I now use it regularly and find it to be an incredible time saver and have found some creative ways to make it cost effective.
Is Grocery Delivery More Expensive?
The answer depends on how you look at the situation. There are number of comparisons that consistently show that prices for grocery delivery are higher. However, this strictly looks at the price of items purchased.
The truth is that most of the time our grocery list is a bit of a moving target, especially when we are shopping in store. Remember those pool noodles?
Grocery stores are designed to encourage you to purchase additional items. Often you leave the store with more than you planned.
With grocery delivery, you eliminate impulse buys. The delivery contains only the items you need. If you plan your meals and order using a comprehensive list, you may end up not spending more overall.
Grocery Delivery Tips to Save Money
1. Try out a few services and see what fits best with your needs.
Options for grocery delivery will vary based on your location. Some allow you to purchase from a variety of grocery of stores, while others are a service for a specific grocer. Each service has different pros/cons. Depending on your week or schedule, one might be a better fit.
For example, I often use Instacart if I haven't been great about planning my meals in advance. I can just order in the morning and items arrive in as little as two hours.
Instacart is more costly as the price of items is often higher than in store, and there is also a service fee charged with each order. However, it is likely much less expensive than take-out or stopping for a ready made meal at the grocery store.
When I’m more organized with planning meals in advance, I can score the best pricing by ordering from a grocery store-based delivery service such as PeaPod. Pricing is usually lower because you can take advantage of special pricing available through the store circular.
2. Research features and pricing
Most of the grocery store based delivery services offer discounted delivery for ordering in advance. For example, PeaPod provides a steep discount on delivery if you order 4 days in advance and more than $75.
In addition to offering a discount for ordering in advance, you can also snag discounted delivery if you select a wider delivery window or mid-week delivery days. When you choose a delivery window of 5 hours instead of 1 hour for delivery, you can save a few dollars on delivery.
Explore the memberships available from delivery services. If you are ordering multiple times per week or have found a specific service that is a great fit for your needs, you will likely save money by purchasing a membership.
3. Get creative
Most grocery store delivery options allow you to update your order until the day before, and send you reminders about these cutoff times.
My little "secret" to save money with PeaPod is to create an order with $75 worth of items (I often just put in 30 gallons of milk), then choose the delivery day and window with the best price. The day before delivery (prior to the order change cutoff window), I update the order with my "real" list of items. This allows me to have the low cost delivery AND day before ordering.
4. Avoid Missing Items
One of the biggest negative experiences I’ve had with grocery delivery is having essential items missing from my order. If key items needed to prepare meals are missing, a trip to the store is still required.
With most delivery services you can specify substitute products during the ordering process. However, some services make it easier than others. In my experience, Instacart excels at this. You have direct communication with your shopper and the opportunity to approve substitutions in real time.
Low incidence of missing items is one of the primary reasons I use Instacart most often. My primary objective is to not make a trip to the grocery store and be confident that everything I order will arrive.
5. Combine grocery delivery with meal planning tool
If you are looking to level up your convenience, look for meal planning tools that integrate with a grocery delivery service.
For example, PlateJoy is a meal planning app that develops a custom menu and then gives you the option to send all items needed to Instacart. It asks you to verify which items you have on hand as well.
This combination of menu planning and grocery delivery offers a major time savings. You can create a menu for your family and get your groceries ordered in under 20 minutes.
Grocery delivery does have a price take, but it offers huge value in convenience. However, you may find that you actually don’t spend any extra by avoiding impulse buys and the need to get organized when you place your order.
For me, the benefit of being able to sit in a comfortable place, look in my cupboard, refrigerator and review my cookbooks or Pinterest board while “shopping” is a huge time and sanity saver. It prevents those "buy it just in case" situations and buying things because "you think you'll use it" and it's a good price.
Grocery delivery can save you time and not break the bank. You might just start looking forward to a stroll down the grocery aisle from time-to-time.
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