Categories:Cooking Lessons - Cooking 101 Kitchen Organization
Just a Click Away From an Extra 4 Hours of Free Time Each Month
It all started with a Facebook post. My niece happened to mention that she was trying out online grocery shopping.
Skimming her post, I though the whole idea seemed rather strange. I imagined the UPS man ringing the doorbell while juggling bags of produce. After all, my typical online shopping experience results in a brown box appearing on my doorstep. Sometimes, it is 8 hours later and sometimes, as it did recently, it takes weeks and several phone calls to find out the location of the disappeared goods.
I thought “How does that work on my favorite cookie dough ice cream?”
The thought of online grocery shopping came and went. A few weeks later, we made a big move to an old house in a new state, as I reported last month when I wrote about my new 1953 kitchen. Finding my way around the city, I passed the grocery chain that my niece used for her online shopping. Since her original post, I had read others stating how much she loved the concept.
That night, nestled between piles of unpacked boxes and repair to-do lists, I snuggled up with my laptop and went grocery shopping. Doing it online meant that the next day I would not have to spend half the day at the market as so many other things were pulling me in every direction.
So, I am here to report that online grocery shopping is this organizer’s dream come true. It is almost like a miracle! In fact, my husband is so enthralled he has told several people it is one of his favorite things about our new city. To clarify, no brown box arrives at the door. Instead, I drive to the store and pull into take-out line, push a buzzer from my car window and they bring the bags right to the car. (At least that is how it is done here. Certainly there are stores that deliver to your doorstep. Check out your store’s website to find out your options.)
Online grocery shopping has had some unexpected positives. It is easy to see that you will save time by not having to do the shopping. The first surprise came from saving money because if you are not in the store, then you are not making impulse buys. The second surprise was realizing that it was easier to eat healthier. If you don’t see the snack food aisle, the bakery, the frozen treats, the candy at the checkout lane, the beer cooler and so on, you are not tempted. My niece said she is seeing $15 to $20 less on her bill each trip because the only thing purchased are the items on her list. The savings easily cover the $4 service fee.
In the past few weeks, I have learned some tips to share when organizing your grocery shopping online. The first time, I was creating a menu as I clicked. I thought about making chili and clicked on ground beef, canned tomatoes, green bell peppers, canned beans and so on. This meant I went in and out of the produce web page, the meat department and the canned goods area multiple times. Not a very efficient plan for an organizer to use!
Tips for Trying Online Grocery Shopping:
Do not be afraid to try the service once. Often stores that offer this service will let you try it the first time without a service fee. You need groceries anyway, so you have nothing to lose.
Think about when you want to pick up your groceries. They will ask you to select a time so that they know when to have them ready for you. Just imagine pulling in on the way home from work and having someone load everything you need for the week into the back of your car!
You can prepare your order days ahead. I had time on a Tuesday night to plan a week’s worth of meals and click in my order but I did not set up a pick up time until Saturday.
Do make a menu and a grocery list just like you would if you were physically doing the shopping. Having a list means you will be able to order all your produce at one time and then all your meat at the one time. It will be faster than going in and out of multiple web pages.
Remember, as you order to look and see if the item is being sold as “each” or by the “pound” and so on. I laughed so hard when I unpacked my first order. That is when I discovered that I did not get one bunch of bananas by clicking one. Instead, I got just one solitary banana.
Take advantage of the area where they allow you to leave them notes. Perhaps you like your tomatoes really ripe, then say so. Or you might want avocados hard so they will keep until later in the week, then let them know. Do you think they laughed at my note to please choose green bananas and then noted I only wanted one?
Keep your grocery costs down by paying attention to sales. Check your stores website to see how they flag sales. On the site I am using, they show the weekly specials for produce at the top of the produce page. In addition, if an item is on sale, the font will be in red instead of black.
If your store has a rewards card system, keep your card handy and enter the number during your order process to receive the reward prices.
Save even more time on shopping on your next purchase. Begin your order by opening up your last order. You can delete items you do not want again but you can also reorder the same things. So if you buy milk, bread, coffee, apples, diapers and so on every week, it is simple to reuse your basic list over and over and add to it each week.
Brand picky? Or perhaps you’ll take any brand if your favorite is not in stock? You will also have the option of allowing substitutes or not.
Author Lea Schneider, a columnist for What’s Cooking America, is a freelance writer and organizational expert whose organizing ideas have been published in many magazines including Woman’s Day, Better Homes and Gardens Kitchen and Bath Ideas, Family Circle, Parents Magazine, as well as numerous newspapers and websites. She is a member of the Association of Food Journalists.
Getting organized is all about living simpler and making things easier. The bonus is it often leads to saving money. Lea Schneider’s kitchen organizing columns tell you how to organize the many things that relate to kitchens, menus, meals, and special food events.
Check out all of Lea Schneider’s helpful home and kitchen columns at Organizing Kitchens, Pantries, Menus and Meals.