All-In on Grocery Delivery Services

When it comes to “pandemic changes” that we’re going to continue doing/using after the pandemic ends, grocery delivery is pretty high on the list.

I’d never done grocery delivery until this hit back in the spring, and now I’m totally sold on it.

Since Cari is a real estate agent, her weekends are often spent out looking at houses with clients — yes, even during the pandemic that’s still the case. So I’ve been doing the family grocery shopping for pretty much the past 16 years. A typical weekend of grocery shopping involves a minimum of two trips to different stores and takes a good two hours or so, sometimes more but rarely less. And that doesn’t include a monthly trip to Costco; add in another 60-90 minutes for that.

With grocery delivery, I’m spending maybe 20-30 minutes total making a shopping list and placing the orders through Costco.com, Walmart.com, and Instacart. And then everything shows up on our front door and we just put it away and get on with our lives.

I hear you saying, “What about the costs, Matt?”

The groceries are a little more expensive when ordered through Costco or Instacart. Walmart groceries cost the same online and in the store. Then there are delivery fees and tips … and I try to be a generous tipper, especially in times like this.

As best I can tell, and I’ve tried to track this, all of those extra costs come to about $50-60 per shopping “event.” I put it that way because we used to do grocery shopping every weekend. Now with delivery, we’re ordering more and only shopping twice a month. So it’s about $100-$120 extra per month … but it saves me about 8-10 hours per month. When I do the math, delivery is basically costing about $12-15 per hour. And my time is worth a lot more than that, so I consider it a fair trade.

The only downside to grocery delivery is that sometimes the stuff you’ve ordered is out of stock. With all of the services, you can indicate if you want a substitute item or if you want the item skipped if it’s out of stock. And when this happens to your Costco/Instacart order, it’s no problem — you can watch the order being shopped in real-time, and if you don’t like what the “shopper” has chosen as the substitute, you can text right away and provide instructions. But you can’t do that with the Walmart orders. When something’s out of stock at Walmart, the shopper picks a substitute and you’re basically stuck with it. So you have to be extra careful when ordering about which items you’ll allow substitutes for, and which ones you won’t.

When the pandemic started, we also signed up with a local community farming co-op — they deliver super-fresh, organic fruits and vegetables every week for $29. That’s been really cool because I hate to waste money and hate to throw food away, so I find myself eating a lot healthier these days to make sure that food and money aren’t wasted.

The photo above shows a typical delivery from this service — heirloom tomatoes, peaches, sweet corn, watermelon, green peppers, cucumbers, avocado, and blueberries. Soooooo fresh and delicious.

Put all of that together and you can count me a convert to the joys of grocery delivery.

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