Note from Hint Mama: As a working mom, I hate wasting my precious weekend time grocery shopping. Yet most weekends, you can find my husband, my daughter and me at our local Safeway, doing our weekly shopping. I’ve heard other moms extol the benefits of online grocery shopping and delivery, and though I’ve dabbled in it some, I’m still a novice online food shopper. So I’m looking forward to trying out the tips on the subject below from new Hint Mama contributor Maren Thomas Bannon, co-founder of littlelane, a Web site focused on local recommendations for parents in the San Francisco Bay Area.
After having a baby, the “What’s for dinner?” question became much more challenging.
Cooking isn’t easy (or enjoyable) with a screaming infant, and it didn’t get much easier with a wild toddler eager to “help” (by banging every pot and pan in our house).
In our pre-kid days, we could just run out to the nearest pizza place whenever hunger struck and do our grocery shopping whenever we felt like it, but now we have to work around things like bedtimes.
So over the past couple of years, I’ve become somewhat of an expert at getting groceries delivered to our house. Not only can I do online grocery shopping on my own time, so I only have to worry about making time for meal prep, but it also saves me money. Less impulse shopping happens online at 8 p.m. versus visiting a store after work with a hungry screaming toddler.
In short, grocery delivery is a lot more efficient than in-store grocery shopping, and can be surprisingly cost effective.
So, to help you get started right away on saving time and money, today’s hint is five tips for getting your groceries to magically appear on your doorstep.
1. Know the right promotion codes. Getting your groceries delivered doesn’t necessarily mean you have to pay for delivery. For instance, if you order through Safeway, which delivers to many major U.S. cities and suburbs, your first delivery is free with the code EASY7, and future deliveries are also free with the purchase of one select baby item (just enter the code BABYBONUS). So, make sure to do some research before you click purchase to make sure you’re entering the relevant discount codes.
2. Know when – and where – to order to get speedy delivery. If you think you have to wait a long time for your groceries to arrive, think again. Many of the services out there today offer same day delivery. With Safeway delivery, deliveries must be placed by 8:30 a.m. for afternoon delivery (a great way to hook all the parents out there!).
Other options for grocery delivery in many major cities also promise quick delivery. During those challenging parenting times when you’re out of milk at 5 p.m. or need chicken soup asap for you and your toddler, Instacart and Postmates, which deliver groceries in one hour, are great options to consider. Google Express, meanwhile, promises same-day delivery as does Amazon Fresh.
It’s also worth noting that some of the options mentioned above don’t actually stock groceries. Instead, they send delivery people to local stores like Target, Costco and Trader Joe’s, and some will also deliver you food from local restaurants.
3. Keep hidden charges in mind. While delivery with some of the services may be speedy, charges vary, so you’ll want to make sure you read the fine print on the various Web sites regarding fees. In addition, while tipping isn’t required, you should plan on giving something to your delivery person, especially if he or she carries your groceries into the kitchen. You can give cash, or Instacart and Postmates allow you to tip your driver through their apps.
4. Don’t forget detailed instructions. The delivery services generally give you the option to leave notes for the people gathering your groceries and making the delivery – make sure to use them, says Hint Mama, who this last tip comes from.
After she received produce that didn’t look so great and products expiring the following day during her first use of Safeway’s delivery service, she made sure to specify going forward in the notes section that she wanted products with expiration dates at least a week out and produce that was in good shape.
Since then, the groceries have come in good, and long-lasting, shape. So, while answering all the questions about brand substitutions and leaving additional comments can take extra time when you’re placing your order, the instructions are worth the effort.
5. Leverage the list. Finally, a great benefit of online grocery shopping is that you get a record of what you’ve ordered before. You can use your online order history to save even more time ordering the next time around, and it’s also a great resource to print out and use for your next in-store visit too.
Want more information on grocery delivery? If you’re in the Bay Area, check out littlelane’s favorite grocery delivery services. And don’t forget that there are other options for saving time on meal prep, including meal delivery services and meal “ingredient box” delivery.
What are your grocery and meal delivery tips? Are there any we’re missing?
Maren Thomas Bannon is Co-Founder and CEO of littlelane, a website focused on local recommendations for parents in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her second, and more important, job involves talking tea cups, the chicken dance and making sure her very feisty one year old doesn’t sneak out of the playground, again. She has an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and an Engineering degree from Dartmouth College. She lives in Marin with her laid-back husband and enthusiastic daughter. Connect with her on Twitter at @LittleLaneBaby, Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn.