Okay, moms & dads of teens (especially teen boys), this one is totally for you! Are you having trouble keeping your pantry stocked with chips, protein bars, snacks, cereal, bottled water etc…? I know I am. I can’t keep up with the grocery store runs and that’s why Instacart has quickly become one of my most used apps!
In addition to my dislike of the frequency with which I seem to need to grocery shop to feed this teen beast, I also can’t stand that I have to go to 3 stores to get everything that my teen, his friends and the rest of my family eats. Take, for example, Whole Foods. Love the place. Love their produce and love their meat. But I hate navigating their insane parking lot, and more than that, I hate that they don’t carry my basic grocery items that are staples in my house. Items such as Coke, Caffeine Free Diet Coke (no judgements, please), Bounty paper towel (I’ve yet to meet a recycled paper towel that can handle the spills in my house) and Tostitos. So after a trip to Whole Foods, I still have to go to Jewel or Treasure Island to get these items. And then there’s my love/hate relationship with Costco. There are some Kirkland items that I truly believe are the best (garbage bags for example). And the cost savings at Costco can totally be worth it on certain big bulk items that you actually NEED in bulk (I’m talking about Tide and Cascade not the chocolate covered almonds that always seem to make their way into my cart). So now we’re up to three stores that I can put on my rotation. Quite frankly, sometimes I don’t have the time, energy or motivation to hit all three! That’s where Instacart comes in.
Instacart delivers your groceries from multiple stores to your doorstep in just a couple of hours, all hand selected by the way. I’ve used other grocery delivery services like Fresh Direct when I lived in NY, and Peapod here in Chicago with much success. But what sets Instacart apart is that you can mix and match where your items come from, and you work with personal shoppers, so you don’t get any of that wonky produce that I have gotten from the above mentioned services.
To begin, you go online to their website or download their app. After setting up your account, you choose the store you’d like items from (Marianos, Whole foods, Jewel, Stanley’s or Costco in Chicago) or do a combination. You’ll peruse the list of grocery items and select the items and quantities you want. If you want an item that you don’t see, there is an option to include a description and quantity and the personal shopper will look for it. I did this with the flavor La Croix I wanted, and they found it immediately. I happen to love the Kirkland brand garbage bags, and I don’t think you can beat the prices of the large Kirkland Extra Virgin Olive Oil. So those came from Costco. My chicken cutlets, milk and bananas came from Whole Foods. Boxed penne, chips, cereal and bottled water came from Jewel.
Once you place your order, Instacart will send a personal shopper to select and deliver the groceries from your choice of stores. The shoppers will call or text you regarding any out of stock items or substitutions. You may select “no substitutions” if you do not want any items replaced. You may also opt to not be called whatsoever.
Just this week, I placed my order at 10:50am. At 11:05am, Cody one of the personal shoppers, was calling me from Whole Foods to confirm that I indeed did want 3 gallons of milk (um, no, my mistake. Thanks for checking. 2 is plenty). A few minutes later, my shopper at Jewel texted me to let me know that they didn’t have the brand of pasta that I had specified, and she gave me the three available options and let me choose my substitution. Within two hours, all of my groceries from the 3 different stores were in my apartment. (Note they did come in 3 deliveries b/c there was a different shopper at each store). But you get a text confirming that each is on its way.
Everything was in my order and the produce all looked beautiful which is a huge plus to this experience. Of course, no service comes free of charge. There is a delivery fee and they say on their site that they do mark up some of their items but it’s never clear which ones. I have always found my bill to be totally reasonable and I get all the items delivered within 2 hours without leaving my house, so I’m plenty happy with the service.
This doesn’t mean that I never do my grocery shopping, but there are so many instances when I use them. Like say, when its 1 degree outside, or when Big tells me he’s having friends over at the spur of the moment, upon returning from a long weekend or spring vacation, when work commitments and carpools prevent me from running crazily from store to store …. I’m sure you get it. It’s a pretty cool service, and a total lifesaver when trying to feed a teen and his friends!