In Verona, we have only one supermarket and some smaller convenience stores. We have to travel to get food, and a few years ago it got me thinking: Why not save time and have it ready for me to pick up or have it delivered? It’s not that I don’t love perusing the aisles or checking out in-store specials; I just don’t have the time to do that. Better said, I have other things I’d rather be doing with that time.
My solution: online grocery shopping. Seeing your food on a computer screen and not on a shelf can be intimidating. Depending on someone else to choose your food is a leap of faith. But with a little patience, trust and time to manage the learning curve, online grocery shopping can be a real time saver–and even a budget helper.
I’ve used ShopRite from Home for a couple of years. What I like about it is that, if any items on my list can’t be delivered, I get a phone call. If you forget something (and I have), you can call and ShopRite will add items to your grocery cart. My groceries are ready on time (if not early) and my car is loaded for me regardless of the weather. While there is a $10 fee for the service, the food prices are the same whether I shop in the store or from my computer. Every once in a while the $10 fee bothers me, but then I shop with one (or all three) of my children and remember why that fee is worth every penny. There have been very few glitches (once my freezer items didn’t make it to my car, but were later delivered free of charge) and overall, I’m very happy with the service. Another perk: I have the choice of pick up or delivery. The delivery fee is an additional $6, but I usually pick up because I don’t like waiting at home for delivery. Groceries will not be left if you are not home. If you pick up, you can use coupons and reusable bags for packing your groceries.
I’ve used Peapod about three times. With Peapod, which is owned by the same company as Stop&Shop, groceries are ordered online, paid for in advance with a credit card and then delivered. There is no extra fee for having someone shop for you; it is built in to the price for the food. But caution: Peapod prices can be more than Stop&Shop store prices. I noticed this especially with meats, when the Stop&Shop labels were covered up and replaced with Peapod labels and pricing. Other differences: If you have coupons, the discount is taken from your next shopping order, not the current one. And when items couldn’t be delivered, Peapod didn’t call me. This can present a problem when you are down to your last roll of toilet paper.
FreshDirect only offers online shopping, so you only pay a delivery fee, not a shopping fee. Its Web site is easy to use and navigate. FreshDirect offers chef-prepared frozen meals, artisanal cheeses, wine, beer and catering-style platters that are all part of its “standard” menu, not special items. It also highlights which produce items are at their peak of freshness. FreshDirect delivers in our area between 6:30 and 8:30 a.m., which Laurie Ewing, a nursery school mom I know, believes is a great time for a grocery delivery. “We’re up that early anyway,”Ewing says, “and usually home, with no waiting around.” On the downside, FreshDirect’s selection for what I would call everyday items was lacking compared with ShopRite and Peapod.
So how can grocery shopping with fees save you money? Simple: Seeing your grocery bill before you get through the checkout line is immensely helpful. Moms who shop online agree that we all have gone back into our virtual shopping carts and taken out items we didn’t really need. And I’m not leaving a store with an extra package of cookies that happened to be opened before shopping was even finished. It’s also easier to see the sale items on a computer screen compared to holding coupons, flipping through the circular and avoiding the Goldfish cracker aisle.