My husband calls me cheap when it comes to many things. There’s typically a “no spend” period for a month leading up to Black Friday just in case anything we want or need will be on sale. I personally don’t buy clothes unless they are really on sale. (Not shoes. Shoes deserve special treatment.) One thing that really gets me in trouble though is GROCERIES.
I have tried my hardest over the years. I ALWAYS shop the ad. I ALWAYS meal plan for the week. I ALWAYS have the most well-designed grocery list laid out in order of the aisles.
But, then, I get in there. I am the reason companies spend so much money on end cap displays. No joke. No matter how gross it is, if it says “New Flavor!” I’m buying it.
I love food. I love to eat. I love to cook. I love to try new stuff.
And our grocery bill reflects that. Our household of two can easily spend double what some families spend. (Okay. So, our household isn’t spending it. I’m spending it.) It was out of hand and I was really struggling with making changes since I have such a hard time with temptation.
Enter Grocery Pickup
About six months ago, the store I typically shop at started offering grocery pickup. While pickup and delivery are often marketed towards busy professionals, I thought maybe it could help me avoid those end caps. And I’m a busy professional, too! We all know we don’t have the expendable time working from home that many people think we do.
After many months of using these services, I wanted to share my results with you.
The Pros and Cons
- I save money every single week I do this. My store lists the prices right on their website so I can see before checking out if I need to do a little trimming.
- I save time. It takes me about 15 minutes to drive from my house to the store, have them load the bags in my car and drive back home.
- I don’t have to get out in the cold. My store is now offering delivery which I fully intend to take advantage of this winter. Why get out in the cold at all?
- I can still use Ibotta! I have been using this grocery rebate service for several years now and can continue doing so.
- It isn’t always free. The store I use offers free pick-up on orders over $100. If under, there is a $2.95 fee. That’s still way less extra money than I am going to spend if I walk into that store.
- Sometimes, they don’t have something on my list and don’t have a good substitute. If it’s a necessity, I have to make a special trip to another store to get it anyway.
- Not all services are created equal – or charge equally anyway. You will want to check the service fees for stores in your area. Like I said, the store I most often shop at charges $2.95 for pickup on orders under $100. It’s free on orders over $100. Because this is such a new offering in many locations, many companies are running promotions for new customers. You may be able to get your first delivery free.
- It’s not yet available everywhere. The two regional chains in my town both offer pick-up and delivery. Our Walmart does not. We also don’t have Instacart in my area yet. That’s a bummer as we have an Aldi opening soon and I’ve seen several people on Facebook say they can get Aldi delivery with Instacart. Crossing my fingers we see an expansion soon.
- Depending on the service, you still need to plan ahead somewhat. The store I shop at most often, if you order at 8 AM the earliest pick-up time you can reserve is likely going to be 5 PM. Some services, however, offer a quicker turnaround. Instacart has an Express service that guarantees delivery in as little as ONE HOUR. I am usually holding out until the last minute – because my husband without fail has a list of things he needs from the store AFTER I get home from the store no matter how many times I’ve asked. A quicker delivery would be great for me.
- You can’t use coupons. There was a short period of time several years ago that I was a crazy coupon lady. Honestly, it was more about the game than the savings. Two years later, I ended up throwing out or donating a ton of unopened and uneaten cereal and Hamburger Helper. That’s not saving money. Therefore, I’m not too sad about not being able to use coupons. I don’t even get a Sunday paper anymore, honestly. I just use Ibotta and the store I shop at honors their in-ad coupons with pick-up/delivery orders.
Where Can You Find Pickup or Delivery?
While we first started seeing grocery delivery popping up several years ago, it’s only now working its way into smaller cities. My town is around 40,000 people. As I said, the small chains have started offering pick-up and delivery recently. Walmart still isn’t.
If you want to try cutting your grocery bill in half by having someone else do the shopping:
- Check your local grocery stores first. It should say on their websites as that’s where you will do your shopping.
Check the national grocery services:
- Instacart – One-hour delivery service is $5.99 for orders over $35. Non-rush orders are $3.99.
- Amazon Fresh – Monthly fee of $14.99 in addition to your Prime Membership. Deliveries over $40 are free. Orders under $40 are charged $9.99.
- Peapod – This company still has a very limited market, primarily large Eastern cities. It’s also a little more pricey. For orders greater than $100, the delivery fee is $6.95. Orders under $100 have a fee of $9.95. The minimum order allowed is $60.
- Shipt – This company will shop at Costco and Target in addition to your local grocery stores. There is a monthly membership of $14. Delivery is free for members on orders over $35. There is a $7 delivery fee for orders under $35.
Prices subject to change anytime.
My System for Spending Less on Groceries
I’m all about systems and worksheets. I do things a little differently than some.
- Shop the ads. Make a list of the items on (good) sale that your family actually eats.
- Create your meal plan. Once you have a list of the items on sale this week, what recipes use those ingredients? If you need a little inspiration, you can search for a few ingredients +”recipes” in Google or Pinterest. Last year, I started using eMeals (use this link to get a 14-day free trial. Please be aware you need to call to cancel your trial/membership. It can't be done by email or chat.) It runs about $60 per year, but it had the biggest variety of meal categories of all those services I looked at; Paleo, Gluten-Free, Heart Healthy, Low Carb, Low Calorie, Kid-Friendly, etc. I could also choose a household size of 2 instead of 4 to 6. We don’t need that many leftovers. And, you can switch meal plans as much as you want. I usually look at almost all of the meal plans each week and print off all those I want to try. I can then use those recipes when making my shopping list. (You can use the app if you want and even send your list to a participating store. I work best with pen and paper and I can then add my favorite recipes to my personal cookbook.)
- Make your list based on sales and recipes and order it for delivery or pick-up.
I can’t tell you what a relief it is to not get that total at the checkout line and wonder what the heck happened over the past 20 minutes. Seriously. And I have more free time and more of my hard-earned money still in my pocket.
If you are already a savvy and self-controlled shopper, this plan may not change things much for you. If you are like me and can’t resist “new and improved,” give it a whirl. Choose a service that does not require an ongoing membership, so you won’t be locked into an ongoing commitment if it isn’t something you will use long-term.
Interested in making money as a grocery shopper? Check out this list.