There are typically two kinds of people when it comes to grocery shopping: those who love it and those who loathe it. It didn’t used to bother me, until I became an avid label reader, more health and budget conscious and.. let’s be honest, a parent. All of these things combined have squashed any love that I had for stepping foot into a grocery store. It takes too long, I constantly have to refuse candy bars and pop tarts when Ray tags along (which is almost always).. I leave totally exhausted with a bad attitude. So, as you may have gathered.. I’m one who loathes it.
In efforts to salvage my sanity and still provide healthy options at home for my family, I started looking for strategies to better the experience. I tried to only go grocery shopping during less busy hours and when someone could keep Raygan for me, but that left me shopping at random times of the day. It still wasn’t the solution.
Then I heard about curb side grocery pick up. Wait, what?? You mean to tell me that someone else will gather all of the items on my shopping list and bring them outside to my car? I don’t have to wait in a check out line? It can save me hours per week? Sign your girl up!
Just like everyone else, I had my reservations. I’m a produce stickler. I don’t care for my items to be over-ripened, squishy, moldy, etc.. You probably feel the same way. Food is expensive, especially organically grown food. I shuddered at the thought of some teenager, clueless of how to choose appropriate fruits and vegetables, loading my car with rotting materials. But I took a leap of faith and decided to try the service for a month to see what I thought.. that was last year some time, and here I am still using the program every single week.
Pro: I have been pleasantly surprised with their produce selections, only recalling a handful of times where something wasn’t to my likings. The associates have been more than happy to replace said items and issue refunds or credits where needed. Con: The only time this has been an issue is when I planned on using that certain item for dinner on a night before I plan on returning to town (to make any exchanges). I’m sure you could review your items in the parking lot with the employee to verify that you’re happy with all of the items that your receiving, I just.. don’t. I like to keep my tires warm.
Pro: All selections are made online from the comforts of your home.. or car, or wherever you are when you remember to place your order. The websites are super user friendly. There is a search bar at the top of the page where you type keywords, or even the complete product name, and that item (if they carry it) and other items like it pop up for you to select from. All products have description tabs with ingredients and nutrition labels available (if you care to read them, like I do). As you add each item to your cart, you can see your running tab on the side of the page, so you know how much money you’ve already spent and how much room you have left in your budget for that order. Totals can vary slightly on items that are priced by weight, like meat for example, you may not receive an exact 1 pound cut, so your total will shift once they shop your order and weigh it in.. but the total you see in your cart isn’t too far off. Con: Sometimes items that are available online are not stocked in store. You have the option to allow substitutions for each item, which is typically pre-selected, and the associates will try to match the item requested as closely as they can. There have only been a few times that they have not been able to find adequate substitutions, resulting in an absence of the item all together. It can be a bit frustrating when that happens, but I guess technology has its kinks from time to time.
Pro: You choose the time slot you’d like to pick up your groceries, they let you know when they’re ready, you let them know when you’re there, they bring your items out (from being stored in refrigeration, if needed), load them in your car and send you on your way! The whole process is really effortless on your part. Note: You should help the person load your groceries into your car. They’ll happily do it without your help, but unless you can’t get out of the car, perhaps you just had surgery and can’t lift or you’re in the middle of breast feeding or you maybe you forgot to wear pants that day.. you should lend them a hand. You should help load your groceries because it’s polite and because they just saved you the headache of having to retrieve said items on your own in the first place. (I mention this because I’ve seen people barely acknowledge the employee as they’re too busy playing Candy Crush instead). C’mon people! Con: Most grocery stores require your order to be placed several hours in advance or the day before depending on the time that you order. This program is best for your larger grocery hauls and often times there is an order minimum (around $30). So that means when you have a spur of the moment recipe you want to try or you suddenly run out of milk, you’ll still need to take your happy little self inside the store and pick up these couple of items.. or just hold out and wait until next week’s order, like I do! We will skip a meal rather than me having to go inside the store myself. (Kidding. Sort of.)
Pro: Once you’ve established your online account and have made a few purchases, the program will keep a list of your previously and frequently ordered items, making it simple to go through the list and add them to your cart.. maybe a little too simple. “You’re right, I did forget to add that ice cream this week, but now that you mentioned it.. come to Mama!” If you tried a new brand of something that you loved (or hated) in purchases past, you can easily pull up previous orders and see what it was exactly. This is also a nice feature because it keeps track of your order totals. So if you’re a budgeting family (like we try to be), you can refer to your history and see just how much you’re spending on groceries per month. Con: You must pre-pay for your order, with a debit/credit or gift card. Cash is not King in this situation (sorry, Dave Ramsey). The associate will total your bill out after weighing and collecting all items, they will remove any unwanted groceries upon your request, you will sign their tablet in approval and viola! The deed has been done. You can keep your card information on file in your account, which makes the ordering process a breeze, especially when you’re crunched for time, which I guess would qualify for the pro list as well.
I have used two different grocery store curbside pick-up services. One of them I paid for a membership, which is originally $99/year, but I snagged for $49 on Black Friday week (whoop whoop!), and the other was free to sign up! As mentioned in my Veggie Pasta recipe post, I’m somewhat of a food snob. I prefer my groceries (mostly) organic and junk free. The place that I’ve paid a membership to has typically provided our “food desert” of a town (when it comes to grocery stores) with more specialty items, at a more expensive rate of course. The second store that I decided to try, was Walmart.
Walmart has gotten a bad rap over through the years. Have you seen the People of Walmart music video?! (look it up..lol) They are notorious for only having 2 cashiers working at the 25 registers that they have in store. They have been ridiculed for their efforts to mass produce and monopolize and even replace local farms and small businesses. But one thing that I’ve learned over the years is that the power is in the hands of the people. We vote with our dollars and the way you spend will cause stores like Walmart to respond. I’ve noticed recently how Walmart has stepped up their organic and clean eats game. There is more variety to choose from now than there was in the past. I am able to find a good majority of the items on my shopping list every week by shopping at Walmart.
Now, I don’t want you to give up on your local suppliers. Be sure to shop your city’s farmer’s market and buy from small businesses as much as you possibly can. They’re completely dependent on you doing so. But when you run a tight schedule like I do, time is precious. When you’re in need of groceries that A.) your farmer’s market can’t provide and B.) you don’t have the time (or energy) to step foot into a grocery store for.. I highly recommend using Walmart’s grocery pick up. That seems so strange coming from my crunchy mama, free ranged, local loving lips.. but they’ve made me a believer!
I enjoy the simplicity of the whole process. Their app is easy to use. My groceries are fresh upon arrival. The employees are always kind and accommodating, as they request reviews at the end of each pick up. And if you don’t live in Timbuktu like we do, you can even have them deliver right to your door! *gasp! I really have more positive than negative to share about my whole shopping experience.
So much so that I’d love to share this Save $10 on your first order coupon with you!
I hope this article helps to answer some of the questions you’ve had about the grocery pick up process. If you’re in the same boat that I was before and looking for a productive step in another direction, give it a try and let me know what you think. I hope it’s a game changer for you and your family as it has been for ours!
If you’ve already tried grocery pick up before, please comment and share your experience! I’d love to hear it!