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groceries online: how COVID-19 is changing the way i shop

walmart pickupPART ONE: THE BACKSTORY

I am an old fashioned soul. I respect my elders. I cook from scratch. I only read books with real pages. I did not find out my baby’s gender until birth. I do my own stunts. 😉

I am also one of those people who has a hard time adjusting to new things. It took me two years to order food at a drive thru after getting my license. I used to not be able to handle Jeremy changing shampoo, deodorant or body wash. It took me three years to start asking Siri questions to only then make a complete switch to using Google assistant. I STILL prefer to have a separate camera, MP3 player and phone rather than all in one. The list goes on.

As a couponer, my whole game is multiple stores and strategies to get what I need for cheap. I don’t typically mind because I have the time and it’s so ingrained into me at this point that it’s hard to imagine anything else. Frankly, I enjoy the high of getting stuff I need for super cheap and I LOVE being able to run downstairs when something runs out.

But as a mom, time is something I’m pressed for and I hear convenience calling my name more and more these days. As a toddler mom, I’m struggling to complete all my errands, grocery shopping and miscellaneous (holy sh*t, I spelled it right on my first try!) shopping done with Elias in tow.

And then, all of the sudden, the entire world is changing and adapting to life in the midst of a pandemic. Grocery store shelves are being ravaged, we’re being told to social distance while everyone is flocking to stores and retailers are just trying to keep it together.

PART TWO: NECESSARY ADJUSTMENTS

Last Wednesday we made the decision to basically cut ourselves off from any contact we could – a decision that some people scoffed at and MORE IMPORTANTLY a decision that set an example to a lot of people around us who were not so concerned.

By Thursday, I had made the decision to go ahead and get our meal plan groceries plus enough fresh food to last us as long as possible. As much as I wanted to do things my way, I narrowed down the list to three stores: Kroger, Walmart and Costco. Funny that those stores should be the ones I chose, but I’ll touch on that a bit later.

I tried to place a pickup order for Kroger but literally every slot from Thursday to the following Wednesday was booked. I WAS able to place a pickup order for Walmart for Friday, so I went ahead with that before leaving the house early Friday morning.

I got to Kroger about 8am and took my little baggy of wipes with me. Lucky I did, because they were out of hand sanitizer and cart wipes. At first I was petrified, but after seeing how few people were in the store and falling into my shopping groove I started to relax. Until I got to checkout. There was literally one lane open and a line forming. The six foot distance was clearly forgotten. I became more and more agitated and made my final decision at that moment. No more in person shopping until this is done. Pick up and delivery only.

It came as a multi faceted shock, relief and overwhelming wave of uncertainty. But it was absolute and almost instantaneous. No amount of money saved is worth the risk. No bag of bread or gallon of milk is of so great immediate need that I would risk it again.

PART THREE: ACCEPTING THE CHANGES

I have spent the last week or so navigating the world of online groceries and I LOVE it! Yes, it was frustrating at first – I think it took me two days to get everything added to my cart and actually be able to place an order for pick up – but with a couple adjustments I can see this way of grocery shopping really working for us.

We live in a semi rural area and before the outbreak, we were extremely limited in our grocery pickup and delivery options. Walmart, Martin’s and Kroger are it for us as far as pickup goes. We have a Walmart literally two minutes down the road from our house, but it’s new and they haven’t added a grocery pickup option so we have to drive into the closest city to be able to do this. We have a plethora of grocery stores in our area, but with a lot of the pickup or delivery services being offered through Instacart, we’re missing out because they are not in the area yet. Fingers crossed this outbreak drives them to start.

I have also started really looking into Costco delivery, Amazon Subscribe & Save and Walmart free delivery to home (free shipping with $35 purchase, NOT grocery delivery). I am amazed at what I can get from the comfort and safety of my own home.

WALMART
This one is super simple so props to Walmart for such an easy experience. You must have an order of $35 or more to be able to pick up and a lot of the limits on my items was two (not sure if that’s an all the time thing or an outbreak thing), but that’s all I needed anyway. They all 26 of my items in stock with the exception of carrots and I was able to place an order for pickup the very next day. (If you want the best selection of pickup times, shop super early in the morning.) I was able to check in on the app to let them know I was on my way, ended up there 5 minutes ahead of schedule and did not have to wait a single second. I will definitely be using Walmart pickup again as part of my normal shopping routine.

KROGER
Kroger is my bread and butter. They have the best selection of store brand diet soda and they ALWAYS have an amazing selection of reduced price merchandise ranging from dairy and meat to household items and bakery. I can’t vouch on the ease of their pickup service (my husband says it’s easy as I’ve sent him to pick up an order before), but loading everything into my virtual cart was just as easy as Walmart. They did have a wider range of pickup days you could view – Walmart’s max is the day of and the following day, while Kroger you can see for a couple days out. With the ability to use Kroger digital coupons with grocery pickup, you can bet your sweet bottom I’ll be trying this one out very soon.

COSTCO
I LOVE Costco. I think I inherited a deep love of buying in bulk only to get home and sort everything out into separate containers (OXO Pop + these glass hermetic jars are what I use at home) from my grandma. I’m telling you, there’s something in those free samples that make people want to spend $300 every time they’re in the store. I think it might be love. 😉 In all seriousness, I buy a lot of my pantry staples here: flour (50lbs at a time, no pandemic required), sugar, olive oil, cooking spray, nuts, etc. You can imagine my excitement when I found out they have a ton of items under the “2 day delivery” category that ship free to my house if I spend over $75. SOLD. They also offer same day delivery that includes fresh food, but, again, Instacart is not in my area. 😦

AMAZON
Sadly, Amazon is getting a ton of crap during this outbreak. Many Prime members are complaining about their orders having estimated arrivals at the end of April and saying that because they pay for Prime, their orders should have priority regardless of what is essential or nonessential. Let me take a quick minute here to say:

STOP THROWING TANTRUMS AND CHECK YOURSELF. I AM A PRIME MEMBER AND I WILL GLADLY WAIT UNTIL THE END OF APRIL TO RECEIVE SOMETHING NON ESSENTIAL IF THAT MEANS SOMEONE CAN SAFELY STOCK THEIR HOME WITH FOOD AND NECESSITIES DURING A F*CKING PANDEMIC. HAVE A PROBLEM WITH AMAZONS’ DECISION? CANCEL YOUR MEMBERSHIP AND SHOP SOMEWHERE ELSE.
PREFERABLY SOMEWHERE THAT SELLS HEARTS.

Moving on. I have been utilizing Amazon’s Subscribe & Save feature as Prime Pantry is currently suspended due to backorders. The items I currently have subscriptions to are items that I buy all the time, that never really go on sale or that it’s too much of a hassle to keep an eye out for sales. They include: Neutrogena Face Shield, Batiste dry shampoo, Baker’s imitation vanilla flavor, Tree Hut exfoliating scrub, slow cooker liners (awesome for wrapping springform pans while cheesecakes are in a water bath!) and Splenda packets. I get up to 15% off a Subscribe & Save order when I have 5 or more eligible items shipping at once. I LOVE being able to save on items that I don’t usually have the opportunity to!

PART FOUR: FOREVER CHANGED

Although I will never stop couponing and hitting up my local grocery “thrift store” (let’s talk about 4/$1 name brand greek yogurt singles, no coupons or sale ads required!), I will definitely be utilizing some of these services for the foreseeable future. I will always be a savings savvy shopper, but there are times when fretting over a dollar here and there is just not worth it. I have been enjoying my newfound shopping techniques and all the things it allows for: shopping WHENEVER I want, looking HOWEVER I want and not having run in and out of stores trying to keep Elias entertained and CONTAINED. That last one was the winning reason. 😉

I will 100% be using Walmart pickup from now on when I do my monthly grocery shop; the prices are the same, I can shop from my home and I don’t have to make a trip in with my toddler. I call that a win, win, WIN!

Kroger is a gray area for me – I love going in to look at discount meat, dairy and bakery and I do a lot of couponing there so I may reserve the pickup feature for special occasions or when I don’t have couponing to do.

Costco will always keep me coming in for free samples and to order sheet cakes, but I depending on the price differences from in store to online with free delivery I may start getting a good majority of the bulkier stuff online. Still in store with the produce and dairy, though.

I’m also digging into Amazon a bit more to see if there are any other items that I purchase regularly that I may be able to get for a discount with the Subscribe & Save feature. Right now I’m still reeling over the fact the Splenda packets I have been getting from Costco all this time are actually cheaper on Amazon. Hey, you win some, you lose some.

Hopefully this post provides you with some courage to try online groceries for yourself, maybe it taught you something or perhaps it was just a fun read. Whatever the case, hope you enjoyed it and if you’ve got any tips, I’d love to hear them! Oh, and keep your eyes peeled for April’s meal plan coming up soon!

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