I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not a finance/money expert. I’m pretty much the furthest thing from it, but when it comes to getting a good deal, I’m all about research!
Grocery shopping is one of those things where I prefer to save money. I hate spending money on groceries. I’d rather spend money on fun things, not food. Yet, food is a necessity of life and because of that, I’ve tried everything from extreme couponing to shopping at Whole Foods.
I feel like I have a pretty solid handle on spending money at the grocery store. When people ask what me what’s the best way to save money, I ask if they have considered online shopping. This is when I start getting weird looks, but hear me out!
What Is Online Grocery Shopping
By now, most people have heard about online grocery shopping, even if they’ve never tried it. Many stores have incorporated some version of an ‘e-cart’ or even Amazon Prime Now. The basic concept is that you can sit on your couch or at your desk at work and grocery shop online, scheduling a time to pick them up at the store, or having them delivered to your front door.
Pros of Online Grocery Shopping
You have the flexibility of shopping whenever you want. There’s literally no bad time to shop!
When you create an account, many stores keep your last list on your account, making it quick and simple to add many of those items on to your new list.
If you are at home, you can get up and check what you have on hand. There’s no wondering if you have enough chicken broth for your upcoming recipes.
It is so much easier to stick to your list! There are not extra purchases thrown in your cart by ever helpful kids, or extra packs of gum while you’re waiting in line.
Seeing the total as you add items. This can be one of the best tools for keeping to a grocery budget. The online cart tells you what you are spending as you add each item, and you will not have that surprise at the end of your shopping trip.
This can significantly streamline meal planning – plan your meals, shop online and have everything ready to go.
No lines! You don’t have to find a parking spot, fight shopping cart rage, or wait in line to check out.
No wandering the aisles, searching for that elusive item, then trying to find an employee to show you where that item exists in the store.
Cons of Online Grocery Shopping
There’s a lack of selection – from produce to meat to expiration dates on dairy. This can be a tough thing for people who are a bit more Type A, and like to choose the exact items they want.
There’s a fee for this service, usually about $5 for each shopping trip. If you are only shopping once a week, this isn’t too bad and can often be offset by the lack of spontaneous purchases. But, if you are shopping at multiple stores or shopping more than once a week, this might be financially sound.
Not all markdowns are listed online and for bargain shoppers, this is a big deal. Meat and other markdowns might not be listed online, so you can’t stock up on some of the deeper discount sales.
Not all stores have user friendly sites. Some sites make it hard to browse, and the search engine might not bring back exactly what you are looking for, making the shopping experience take longer than it should.
Lack of flexibility with substitutions. If the exact item you need is not in stock, you have to rely on someone making a substitution or more often, you just won’t get that item in your delivery. Of course you aren’t charged for it, but if you were at the store, you could make the decision if there is something you could purchase in place of that item.
If you spend all day on the computer, spending more time online shopping might be the worst idea in the world. You still aren’t disconnecting from technology.
Summary of the Pros and Cons of Online Shopping
When I asked what’s the number one reason they don’t meal prep, so many people listed their hatred for grocery shopping. A lot of these people go out to eat regularly because they hate shopping so much. Online grocery shopping is a godsend for these people.
If you have to take kids shopping, there might be no fee big enough to save your sanity in order to not take kids shopping!
But, if you’re looking for extra markdowns or wanting to choose your own produce, online shopping might not be the best option for you.
At the end of the day, knowing your budget, your schedule, and your tolerance will help determine if you online shopping is right for you and your family.
If you’re looking for more budget saving tips when it comes to grocery shopping and meal planning, check out my ebook, Meal Prep Made Easy.