7 Tips to Help You Online Grocery Shop Like a Pro

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I started ordering online grocery delivery in March, and six months later have not gone back to a store. While skeptical at first, I’ve learned to love the convenience, safety, and time savings of ordering groceries at home. It’s taken a bit of trial and error for me to get used to online delivery, so here are seven tips I’ve learned on how to perfect the grocery-delivery experience.

Go in with a Plan

Like traditional grocery shopping, making a list (and sticking to it) is my No. 1 tip for staying on track. I like meal prepping and planning, so I always keep a list of ingredients I’ll need for my weekly recipes. And I’ve learned to be very specific with what I need. One order, my husband wanted snacks, and as I was browsing I kept adding different bags of chips to the cart. By the time I was finished, I had 20 different brands and flavors. Sticking to a list instead of browsing will keep you focused and on budget.

Great for the 'One More Thing' Shopper

Even with a list, I do occasionally forget a key ingredient or two (like forgetting cheese on homemade pizza night!), and online delivery is flexible enough to help. Some services will allow you to edit your order before it gets delivered, or even message the shopper while they are at the store for that last-minute ingredient.

Pay Attention to Quantity

Before adding something to your order, check the quantity of the item, especially for produce. There is a big difference between three heads of garlic and three pounds of garlic, so make sure you are ordering the correct amount of what you need.

You May Get Some Creative Substitutions

If an item is out of stock, your shopper might swap in something they think is comparable, even if it's not exactly what you ordered. Make sure you review each swap (most grocery apps have a feature where you can accept or reject a swap) before the shopper buys it.

Pictures Are Everything

I’ve had really fantastic shoppers who take lots of pictures of the aisles and shelves to make sure they are getting me exactly what I need. I’ve found the visuals help with swaps, so if the brand of almond milk I wanted isn’t in stock, I can choose a comparable one among the dozens of milks out there. You can get a real-time view of the aisles without actually going into the store.

Plan Inside and Out

Be prepared for when your groceries arrive — where to have them delivered, how to make a safe handoff for you and the shopper, and where you’ll store the food when you bring it in. You don’t want to order four pints of ice cream, only to find that you have room for only two in your freezer.

Tip Extra!

I am so grateful that there are services and people out there who can shop for me, so I try to make it worth their while to take my order. Sometimes the default tip is set rather low, so check before your delivery. Some services tip a flat-rate amount and some tip by percentage, so make sure you budget that into your overall bill before the order.

Tags: Navigating the Pandemic, Budgeting

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Written By

Kelly Jensen

Kelly is a librarian, homesteader, recipe creator, and beekeeper. See Full Bio

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