At first, buying groceries online may sound like a luxury activity many of us won’t be able to afford. We all need to shop for groceries, and while you might not like grocery shopping, it’s important to have regular interaction with people – so long as that interaction doesn’t involve fighting for parking, constantly telling your kids to sit down in the cart and waiting in long lines.
At this time, I can honestly say that I’m so over traditional grocery shopping and all the planning and effort that goes into it.
A few weeks ago, my schedule was pretty busy for the week and I realized I wouldn’t have time to make a list, search for sales, then run out to the store to get groceries.
I decided to try shopping for groceries online and realized that it wasn’t expensive at all like I thought. Plus, I actually saved more money on average than when I shopped for groceries the traditional way in the store.
How to Start Buying Groceries Online
Normally, you can shop for groceries online by using a grocery delivery service, or you can order what you need online and pick up the items at your local grocery store.
Here are a few affordable options to consider:
Walmart: Walmart has a new, free grocery pickup service and this is what I use. I order my groceries online on Walmart’s website, then I schedule a time to pick them up and a Walmart associate loads the bags in my car at no extra cost to me.
AmazonFresh: AmazonFresh makes buying groceries online incredibly easy. It lets you shop for groceries and household goods online and have them delivered to your doorstep.
The items come from local grocery stores in your area that partner with AmazonFresh, and depending on when you place your order, it could be ready the same day or next day for delivery.
However, this service is only available to Amazon Prime members who reside in select cities. You can sign up for a free trial, but you will have to pay for a membership plus an AmazonFresh monthly membership if you wish to use the service long-term.
Considering the many benefits that come with Amazon Prime (including free entertainment content and two-day shipping), if you think you would like to start buying groceries online, Amazon Fresh could be the best way for you get the most out of an Amazon Prime membership.
Instacart – Instacart is an interesting service that can provide you with groceries fast. Instacart uses freelance personal shoppers to pick-up groceries from your store of choice. The Instacart Express membership is $12.50 per month and includes free delivery for one-hour, two-hour and scheduled grocery deliveries over $35.
*Related: Looking to try grocery services? Check out our guide on the best grocery delivery services to save you time and money.*
If you don’t have the Express Membership, delivery is $5.99 for two-hour services over $35, and only $3.99 for non-rush orders over $35. The minimum order amount is $10.
Google Express – Google Express is another grocery delivery service that costs about $10 per month or $95 per year if you pay upfront. Google Express delivers items you buy from stores like Costco, Walgreens, Whole Foods, Pets Mart and more.
You can receive a fast and free delivery on eligible orders, or pay a small $3 order fee. If you’re not a member, you’ll have to pay a $4.99 order fee per store.
Boxed – Boxed is a pretty cool grocery delivery service I tried last year. It reminds me of Sam’s Club and Costco because they sell warehouse sizes for items and you can also get household goods as well.
Boxed doesn’t charge any membership fees and you only pay for the items you order. You can get a lot of non-perishable items by using Boxed, but they don’t have a ton of fresh food options. It’s not the cheapest place to buy groceries, but it does make shopping convenient.
I hope all that talk about fees and memberships didn’t scare you away. These five grocery pick-up/delivery services I found are on the cheaper end compared to other services, but only you can decide what works best for you and what you can afford.
At a minimum, if you’re interested in shopping for groceries online to save time, I would check with your local grocery stores to see if they have a free grocery pick-up service like Walmart. Many of the bigger regional chains are moving this way and so it may be easy the next time you are at your local grocery store to ask about buying groceries online from them.
Now, here a are few ways that shopping for groceries online can actually save you money.
Shopping for Groceries Online Helps You Stick to Your Budget
Most people go into the store with a grocery budget or a general idea of how much they wish to spend. My husband and I used to place bets with each other at the checkout counter regarding how much the groceries were going to cost because we often had no idea.
Sometimes we were surprised by the total and if we went over budget, it felt like too much of a hassle to ask the cashier to remove certain items even though it probably would have been best.
*Related: Like to use your phone to save money shopping? Read our guide on the top apps to make money from receipts to reduce food costs.*
Even when you create a list and try to shop frugally, it’s so easy to just get into the habit of throwing stuff in your cart just so you can get out of the door. You may not even notice that the price of milk or another item you purchase regularly has gone up. When you start checking out, it’s often easy to feel pressured since there’s someone behind you waiting to pay for their items as well.
When buying groceries online, I love how you can constantly see your subtotal update so you always know how much you’re spending. Seeing that helps me stick to my budget better.
I can remove items quickly before submitting my final payment and I don’t have to worry about rushing because someone’s waiting behind me in line.
It Limits Impulse Purchases
Impulse purchases can quickly raise your grocery bill, but when you shop online it’s easy to just stick to your list because you won’t see too many other tempting items that are available in the store.
All you need to do is make a list, then search for the specific items you need. There’s no check-out aisle filled with goodies to tempt you or your kids, which helps you spend money on the items you need and not the ones you don’t.
Online Grocery Prices are More Competitive
I’ve found this to be true. Sometimes you can apply virtual coupons to your online purchases, especially if you use sites like Ebates. Most grocery store chains also honor sale prices from their circulars in their online stores.
When using Walmart’s grocery pick-up service, I’ve been able to get more bang for my buck because they upgrade food items from my order if they can’t find the exact same thing in the store.
*Related: Want to order dinner in, but don’t want to spend much? Read our review of the best food delivery apps to save money and stay out of the kitchen.*
Since I already placed my order and spent the money on some steaks a few weeks ago, Walmart gave me the item in a larger size since they didn’t have the quantity I ordered in the store during the morning when they grabbed all my groceries for me.
Buying groceries online can help you save quite a bit of money and put your time to better use, which allows you to save, or make, even more money. If you could earn extra money or do something else more valuable with your time and find a free or affordable service that allows you to order your groceries online, why wouldn’t you do it?
Have you ever tried shopping for groceries online? Did you find that it helped you save money? What concerns do you have about the idea of buying groceries online? Are you worried your order would get messed up? Do you think you’d miss the interaction of purchasing your groceries in person?