Tips for Online Grocery Shopping

While plenty of people were hip to the convenience of online grocery shopping and delivery well  before the pandemic, to some, it was a new but necessary way to avoid being in public and minimize the risk of contracting COVID-19. The process of buying groceries online, at a time that fits your schedule, and then having them show up on your porch a few hours later is an attractive prospect to people looking to save time spent on running errands. Most grocery stores now have an online ordering system, and services line Instacart have become especially popular during the pandemic. Whether you want to order groceries online due to the pandemic, a recurring illness, or for the overall convenience, here are tips on how to have a successful online grocery shopping experience:

Have a List Ready

Have you ever been to the grocery store while hungry? Then you know how wandering the aisles and adding things that appeal to you in the moment can quickly lead to a cart full of things you didn’t originally intend to buy! The same concept applies here, but the ability to impulse shop is even more dangerous when you are ordering from home, with no other shoppers blocking the shelves and unlimited time to explore your options! Make a meal plan for the week and list out what you actually need before getting online to grocery shop. 

Be Prepared for Substitutions

There is always a risk that your store will be out of what you need when you go grocery shopping. However, shopping in person gives you the ability to find a substitution on the fly. With online ordering, you will want to specify what substitutions are acceptable; for example, will you be happy with button mushrooms if they are out of shitake? Ground turkey instead of chicken? What about brands — maybe you adore one brand of ketchup but dislike the taste of the competitor. Most online ordering services will let you specify substitutions in a special setting or in the “notes” for each item. 

Most of the services allow the person picking out your groceries to message you through the app. Pay attention to your phone in case they ask you about a preferred substitution or brand choice!

Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute

You’ll be asked to pick a delivery day and window before you order. If it’s a busy day, you’ll run the risk of not getting your preferred time. Plan ahead and order early day for same-day delivery, or have your groceries delivered a day or two before you actually need them. 

Provide Clear Delivery Instructions 

If you are new to having food delivered, you may not think how important it is to be clear with your delivery instructions. Apartment complexes often have multiple buildings that all look alike and lack good signage. Oftentimes they also have locked gates that are not easily accessible for deliveries. In low-lit neighborhoods, house numbers are not always visible from the street. You may have a specific instruction, like having groceries left at your back porch rather than your front. Put yourself in your delivery driver’s shoes to make sure you get your groceries in a timely and stress-free manner! 

Not sure what to cook with your groceries? Check out our list of healthy meal ideas

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