Saturday, April 25, 2020

Tips for getting groceries on time during the pandemic

I haven't been in a grocery store for almost 6 weeks. I fully utilize grocery delivery services during the pandemic. Having groceries delivered right to my door with no contact drop off means potentially less exposure to the virus. However, getting an available time slot can be a real challenge.Those times slots are filling up fast. I wanted to share a few tips on how to optimize your chances of getting an available time slot.
Use several order delivery services: I use 2 delivery services: Clicklist (owned by Kroger) and Instacart. I mainly use Clicklist for grocery items, fresh produce, seafood and dairy products. I like to use Instacart for household items because I can shop from multiple stores when placing an order. When shopping from multiple stores, you'll have separate carts for each store but one combined total. However, you do have to pay $3.99 delivery fee for each store. Both services do offer a pickup option.

Put your order in early: Clicklist opens their new delivery spots as midnight. It's always for a day ahead. The early you can put your order in, the better chance to grab a delivery. I have been able to get a delivery every single time by refreshing the app as soon as I wake up in the morning (typically around 5:30 a.m.) I think Instacart releases their spots throughout the day so you have to refresh periodically to try to snag a spot.

Reserve the slot without ordering: You actually don't have to figure out your entire shopping list before placing the order. I typically just add a few items to my cart, pick the next available time slot and check out. I can then build my order the next day or add items to my order throughout the day after going through my pantry. I have until 12:00 a.m the day of my delivery to make any adjustments needed to my order. For Instacart, you can modify your order at any time as long as your shopper hasn't shopped your order.

Consider curbside or parking-lot pickup: If you can't get a delivery, switch to pickup if possible. First, it's free. Second, there seems to be more available slots. You can choose a pickup time that's convenient for you. They will pick your order and send you a text when your order is ready for pickup. You then pull up to the designated pickup area at your scheduled time, call the number on the sign and they will bring your groceries out to your vehicle and you'll be on your way! It is pretty painless and about as risk reducing as you can get.

Get at least 2 weeks worth of groceries: Take an inventory of your pantry and make sure to buy at least 2 weeks worth of groceries (especially essential/staple items). Categorize your food into groups will help you determine what to eat first and what can be saved for later. I usually get several loaves of bread then freeze them. Bread will keep for 3-6 months in a freezer. Doing this will help limiting trips to the grocery store.

Consider possible substitutions: Keep in mind that not all products are available. To increase the chances of getting your order fulfilled, consider substitutions. To me, plain bagels are just plain bagels, the brand doesn't matter. If Thomas bagels aren't available, I am happy to take store-brand or generic products. Try to be flexible about substitutions when items you want are out of stock.

Be proactive: Don't wait until the last minute to place your order. Do an inventory of what you have and keep a list of what's low so you can order ahead. The key is to plan ahead and place your order well in advance before running out. I usually start a new order every week even though we still have plenty of food at home.

There you have it. I hope you find this post helpful. Everyone is trying to adjust to drastic lifestyle changes during these uncertain times. Remember patience is key. Please be healthy and be safe.

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