6 Ways We Save Money by Having Groceries Delivered

(Image credit: Michaela Cisney)

I don’t live in the big city. Which is to say that grocery delivery hasn’t been the norm in my small town since the ’60s (although I do vaguely remember my mother getting a milk and dairy delivery as late as the ’80s). Still, it’s been a minute. So as a parent who has a regular job, and a few side jobs too, I was beyond ecstatic when I heard grocery delivery was finally coming to Columbia, South Carolina. (Clearly, I don’t have much excitement in my life!) I did worry that the service was for fancy people with money to burn. In reality, though, having food delivered has helped me cut my grocery bill.

It’s one of my resolutions for 2016 to shop with intention to help me cut waste and save money. And it’s working, thanks in part to grocery delivery. Having groceries delivered once a week or so has helped me stick to a budget. Here’s how.

1. It keeps me away from the grocery store after work (when I’m hungry and feeling a little sorry for myself).

You know when you just need one onion, but it’s 6 p.m. and you haven’t eaten since lunch, and you walk past the cheese section? Hello, Manchego! Get in my mouth! And why not travel there on some of these delicious $5 crackers with little bits of dried fruit? And if I’m eating cheese while I cook, I’ll probably want wine, so let’s grab a bottle of this $14 Grüner Veltliner. Oops — just spent an extra $25.

2. There’s a sale section, so I can stock up on things I know we’ll use … like snacks.

If I’m almost out of coffee, and it’s on sale, why not get it now instead of next week when I actually run out? The app makes it easy to find things on sale. Not to mention, with three children (and me, because I’m a snacker), the snack budget adds up fast. But we aren’t picky about what the snacks are — just that we have some. So if pretzels are on sale, that’s what we have this week, and we haven’t suffered one little bit.

3. I no longer need to go to Target for staples like toilet paper, dog food, and paper towels.

If I go to Target for toilet paper, I’m probably coming home with new mascara, a couple of T-shirts, and another adorable cocktail tray, because you can never have too many. (Except you actually can, so I need to quit.)

4. I’m only allowing myself to tip $5 per order.

In restaurants and everywhere else, I tend to tip more than 20 percent, but I realized that if I did that with groceries, I would never order, because I wouldn’t want to add 20 percent to my grocery tab every time. I contacted the company and learned their drivers are paid a flat $5 fee, plus 7.5 percent of the total of each order, so they get paid more if I order more. Also, when I order a $20 jumbo package of toilet paper, I figure everybody wins! Since they’re allowed to do more than one shop at once, the pay seems fair. And five dollars is still a few dollars more than what I would tip if the bagger carried my groceries to my car for me.

5. Grocery delivery keeps me out of Whole Foods.

I love me some Whole Foods, y’all, I really do, but I can’t resist the cheese section, or the wine section, and … don’t I probably need some of this Himalayan bath salt? To be fair, it is possible to shop sensibly at Whole Foods, but I avoid checking prices there, because I don’t want to feel guilty. I always blow more cash than I mean to. Our delivery service only goes to Publix, a chain that has a decent supply of house-brand organics and other healthy options.

6. The app I use to order allows me to keep a running list.

If I run out of something, I add it to the cart right that second, and since my app saves my cart between sessions, it’ll be there when I place my order in a few days. No more last-minute trips to the store, and no more buying 14 more things I don’t really need, just because I happen to be there.

The best thing I’ve saved, though, is time. I choose a delivery window, so the order arrives just before I get home from work. The kids unpack everything as soon as it gets there, mostly to see what’s on the snack menu. So not only do I skip the after-work trip to the store, but I also come home to a stocked kitchen. Instead of rushing around, I can kick off my shoes, wash my hands, and chat with the kids while I get supper ready. No detours required. This is pretty much the best thing that’s happened to me in a good, long while.

Do you have groceries delivered? What are your tips to make the most of it?