Recently, many of us are doing the bulk of our shopping online. You can buy everything from toilet paper to TVs without leaving your home — saving time and, in many cases, money.
But it’s those regular trips to the grocery store that take the most time out of your week, which is why ordering food and pantry items online and having meals or produce delivered can make life easier and cut down on leaving the house.
Doing your grocery shopping online can take some getting used to, though.
Here are tips and facts to help you figure it all out so you’ll have everything you need to prepare delicious meals for your family without having to make a trip to the store.
There are many options when it comes to online grocery shopping and delivery. National retailers like Walmart offer grocery delivery services, as do major online retailers like Amazon. These types of grocery delivery services typically require a monthly subscription fee in addition to the price of the groceries, though. Walmart charges a $12.95 monthly fee, while Amazon requires a $14.99 fee and an Amazon Prime membership.
Some local grocery store chains also offer home delivery options that allow you to shop online. In those cases, you usually don’t need to pay a monthly fee. Instead, you pay a delivery fee for each order in addition to the cost of the groceries.
When you’re shopping online, you can find nearly any grocery item that you would at a brick-and-mortar store. That includes everything from pantry staples like pasta and rice to fresh steaks and vegetables. Pantry items are often a good way to dip your toe into the world of online grocery shopping because you don’t have to worry about any of your items spoiling on the way. Once you feel like you can trust the service, start adding more perishable items to your order.
Unsure about your first online grocery delivery experience? Here are tips to help you stock your fridge and pantry without any problem.
Make a list: It’s always good to have a grocery list, whether you’re shopping online or in person. But when you’re shopping online, it can be even harder to remember what you need when you can’t browse the aisles. Create a meal plan for the week, check your fridge and pantry for supplies, and then make a list of the items you need.
Pay attention to product size: When you’re shopping online and see a photo of an item you need, it’s easy to overlook its size. For example, you might assume you’re getting a 12-ounce container of yogurt when it’s really a 32-ounce tub, which only leads to waste.
Get your order in early: Online grocery delivery services are all first-come, first-serve, so if you place a last-minute order, you may have to wait a day — or even a week — before there’s an open delivery slot. Don’t wait until you’re running low on essentials like milk and eggs to place your order or you may wind up having to go without for a bit.
Choose your delivery window carefully: If you place your order with enough lead time, you’ll usually have a choice of delivery windows. When you’re shopping for high-demand items, morning slots are best since the stores are typically freshly stocked. If you’re interested in saving money, though, choosing a larger delivery window of five or six hours instead of the usual two often comes with a lower delivery fee.
Understand substitutions: Some grocery delivery services allow your shopper to communicate directly with you through an app so they can ask what substitutions you’d like if a requested item is out of stock. Other services don’t offer any communication, so they’ll choose a replacement on their own. Some let you choose your preferred replacement products, so if your favorite brand of ice cream isn’t in stock, you can select another as your second choice. You can usually opt out of replacements altogether if you’re not comfortable with someone else choosing, too.
Tip your shopper/driver: With many people avoiding stores these days, online grocery shopping has become much more popular. To thank the people who help you keep you and your family safe and well-fed, consider including a generous tip to show your gratitude.
If you don’t usually shop with a list, it’s a pretty easy habit to get into. There are plenty of grocery list apps that allow you to keep track of needed items and even add ingredients from your favorite recipes to the list as you go. Start by checking your pantry for essentials like oil, spices, sugar, rice, and other basics like pasta, canned beans, and tomato sauce. Check the store or website you're shopping through for weekly sales, too, and come up with meal plans ahead of time to help determine precisely what you need.
While local grocery stores, national chains, and other services all offer general grocery delivery options, you can also find some excellent grocery services specializing in particular types of food. Meat is an especially popular option, with many services offering farm fresh meat for delivery to your home. You can even get your dog’s food delivered to your door, too.
Offering meat from over ten different family farms, Farm Foods Market has an array of beef, chicken, pork, elk, bison, duck, shrimp, and turkey. You can also purchase in fairly large quantities to stock your freezer with your favorites. They also offer some produce like strawberries and blueberries.
Crowd Cow also offers fresh meat from a variety of family farms and ranches delivered to your doorstep. You can choose from cuts of beef, chicken, pork, seafood, lamb, bison, and turkey. Each box even comes with recipes for the meats you’ve chosen if you need a little inspiration.
You can’t forget Fido’s food when you’re grocery shopping. Farmer’s Dog prepares fresh food for your pet based on their nutrition needs and activity levels and delivers it right to your door. The meals are vet-designed, too, so you know your dog is getting the highest quality food.
Short on time? You can forego shopping for individual groceries and preparing your own recipes by signing up for a meal delivery service that provides prepared meals. Many cater to weight loss or specific dietary concerns, so you can usually find an option that suits your lifestyle to a tee.
For those looking for easy, hassle-free meals, Freshology has you covered. They deliver fresh-cooked meals to your door that only require a few minutes of re-heating to enjoy. You can choose from several different plans, such as the Balanced option for basic nutritionally balanced meals or the Keto-Carb30, which restricts your average net carbs per day to 30.
The Purple Carrot delivers delicious plant-based meals to your home every week. They pack up all the ingredients you need (minus some pantry staples like oil, salt, and pepper) in individual bags, then prepare the included recipe. You can choose from dinner, lunch, breakfast, and even snack options.
Jennifer Blair is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
FREE fall guide
Simplify your fall with tips, tricks, and advice delivered straight to your inbox when you sign up.