I never really thought about ordering groceries online until the pandemic hit. In 2020, I was more than happy to pay extra for grocery delivery rather than risk getting sick by shopping in person. While I enjoyed the convenience of grocery delivery and thought about sticking to it once things normalized, I quickly stopped ordering groceries online because I realized just how much extra it was costing me and how many quality issues I was running into.
If you’re someone who normally gets groceries delivered because you don’t have a car, that’s understandable. But if you have a vehicle and the ability to get to the supermarket yourself, then you may want to hit the brakes on having your food delivered. You may be throwing your money away in the process for these reasons.
1. You’re paying a fee for something you can potentially do yourself
It’s one thing to pay to have your groceries dropped off because you don’t own a car and don’t want to pay for an expensive Uber. But otherwise, if you have a car, when you pay for grocery delivery, you’re basically letting yourself get charged a premium for something you can do yourself.
Take a service like Instacart, for example. Delivery fees there start at $3.99 for same-day orders over $35. Fees can vary for one-hour deliveries, club store deliveries, and deliveries under $35.
Now, you may be thinking the extra $3.99 on your credit card isn’t such a big deal. But don’t forget about driver tips. Those can add up, especially if you’re someone who’s inclined to be generous (which is a good thing). So all told, for a $50 grocery order, you might end up spending an extra $10 or more for delivery.
2. You’re risking getting bad products
Grocery shoppers aren’t always so motivated to find the best products. They often want to get in and get out quickly so they can pick up more orders, because that’s how they make their money.
When you order grocery delivery, you run the risk of getting shoddy produce as just one example. And if you have to dump half of your haul, it’s akin to throwing out money.
Similarly, a grocery shopper may not pay as close attention to expiration dates on food products as you would. If you get a gallon of milk with an expiration date that’s only 24 hours away, you might end up spilling half of it down the sink.
3. You don’t always save yourself a trip to the store
Grocery shoppers can make mistakes. But sometimes, those mistakes can make it so you’re forced to hit the supermarket on your own anyway.
Let’s say you’re preparing a specific meal and your grocery shopper neglects to purchase a key ingredient on your list. You might have to run to the store after work so you don’t have to bail on your menu plan.
Also, going back to the example above, let’s say you need milk on hand for your kids but your delivery order includes a gallon with a lousy expiration date. You might have to run to the grocery store later that same week or risk not having an essential item on hand.
For some people, the added cost of grocery delivery is worth paying. But if money is tight at all or you’re trying to pad your savings account for different goals, then you may want to consider doing your food shopping yourself. And if you hate crowded stores like I do, shopping early in the morning or later at night could make for a more pleasant experience. If you work from home, you can also try hitting the store during the day at off-peak times, like late in the morning.
Better yet, if you don’t have kids, try shopping between the after-school window of roughly 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. During those hours, parents are commonly grabbing their kids from school and hauling them all over town for activities. You may find that supermarkets are generally less crowded during that time if you live in an area with lots of young families.
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