Grocery Diaries

How a Door Dash Delivery Driver Spends $100 on a Week’s Worth of Groceries

updated Aug 21, 2020
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Woman taking out shopping bags from car trunk.
Credit: Izusek | Getty Images

Name: Mary
Location: Central Coast, California
Number of people in household: 3 (Mary, Ron, and their daughter, Lucky) plus four cats: Big Cat, Fluffant, Stinky, and Pancake
Age: Mary and Ron are 34; Lucky is almost 7
Occupation: Door Dash delivery driver
Where did you shop? Grocery Outlet and Food For Less
How much did you spend? $101 total ($45 at Grocery Outlet, $56 at Food For Less)
Dietary restrictions: Ron is a longtime vegetarian; Mary is trying to adhere to a lower-carb diet

Credit: Courtesy of Mary

How did you choose where to buy groceries?

Food For Less has a big (albeit basic) selection and good prices, so I routinely shop there. I wish they had more in the way of frozen vegetarian items, though. We also shop at Grocery Outlet, at Ron’s request. He loves that store because they always have something new, and often have unique items (kind of like Aldi, which we love but didn’t get this week). On weeks when we like to make more exciting meals, we shop at Vons. Vons is too expensive for our regular shopping, but they have more unique produce and specialty products.

What time did you shop and what was it like?

We went to Grocery Outlet on a Monday, around 1 p.m. It wasn’t crowded at all, although things were a bit out of stock. Our Food For Less trip was on the following Thursday, around 1 p.m. as well. We went at an off time so we felt safe and were in and out quickly.

How is this different from how you normally shop?

We used to go to the grocery store almost every day. Both Ron and I love perusing the aisles, picking out whatever sounds good at the moment, and deciding our dinners based on that method. Since we have been socially distancing, however, we are more focused on shopping for a week or two out. I’ve made keeping a stocked pantry a priority, cutting down on junk food and focusing on more whole and nutrient-dense foods.

How did you meal plan?

Our meal plans mostly depend on what we already have on hand. We do themed nights each week, and we’ve made a tradition of having spaghetti Saturdays, pizza Sundays, taco Tuesdays, and falafel Wednesdays. The other days we fill in with whatever sounds good.

I try to keep a good stock of baking items, spices, condiments, and staples (rice, beans, other grains, canned tomato stuffs, some boxed items, etc!). We always have plenty of meat substitute items in our freezer including Beyond Beef and Morningstar Farms items. We also had about half a bag of frozen raw shrimp, so I added hoisin sauce to my list so I could make a stir-fry.

Because I’m trying to eat fewer carbs, eggs are definitely on the list. We eat a lot of eggs, and we enjoy doing breakfast for dinner. I also have quite a bit of veggies that need to be eaten before they go bad, including broccoli, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, and bell peppers.

Credit: Courtesy of Mary

What did you buy?

Produce: Pears, strawberries, lemons, avocados, jicama, pre-cut cabbage, and grapes.

Pantry: Annie’s Bunny Tail Crackers, a no-bake dessert mix (our oven is currently broken), everything pretzel chips, spaghetti, pasta sauce, hoisin sauce, cooking oil, water jugs, assorted canned/bottled drinks. The most important staple of all: La Croix (we easily go through 4 cases a week).

Frozen: Morningstar Farms Chik’n patties and nuggets, shelled edamame, a couple of single burritos, pepperoni-style veggie deli slices, The Pioneer Woman vegetable egg bites, root beer, Italian ices, and cookie dough ice cream.

Dairy: Swiss cheese, milk, a giant hazelnut creamer (for coffee), and, of course, eggs.

Ron’s mom volunteers at the food pantry down the street, and she is so kind to bring us a few things from there each week. This week she brought us a jar of fancy spaghetti sauce, chocolate milk, frozen enchiladas, and, at Lucky’s request, a box of raspberry zingers. My mom was sweet enough to gift me a delicious jar of lemon curd from Williams Sonoma. 

Credit: Courtesy of Mary

What couldn’t you find? 

The only two things we couldn’t find were limoncello La Croix (they are wildly different from the lemon flavor!) and spicy mayo. We have Sriracha and mayo at home already, so I’ll just make some. 

What do you plan on making?

Next week will be back to school for Lucky, so my grocery shopping focus is on easy-to-prepare meals. Because it’s back to school week (all online) we will be grazing a lot so I’m going to keep it simple.


  • Cereal
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Fruit
  • Coffee


  • Egg salad
  • Tuna salad
  • Fruit and raw veggies
  • Cheese, crackers, and hummus
  • Peanut butter sandwiches
  • Lunch meat


  • Fish tacos (we already have frozen tilapia, as well as breading and frying ingredients).
  • Fried rice with edamame, eggs, hoisin (we have the rice, frozen veggie dumplings, and frozen peas and carrots).
  • We will likely make spaghetti as well, with either Beyond Meat meatballs or sausage. Ron makes the best spaghetti!
Credit: Courtesy of Mary

How does food fit into your day?

I work for Door Dash, so I choose my hours each week. I’ve done this for a couple of years now, so I know the best times/days to work. I like to schedule my shifts in two- to four-hour blocks that coincide with traditional mealtimes. Sundays are typically the busiest all day, so I’ll do 8 a.m. to noon, and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. We live in a small and touristy seaside town, so a high volume of business doesn’t go very late into the night. I also choose not to work past 7 so that I can spend mealtimes with Lucky and Ron. We’re late-dinner kind of people.

On Sundays, I get most of my breakfast/brunch orders from Dennys and Huckleberrys. Huckleberrys is really popular with locals and tourists, so I usually have to wait a while for my orders to be ready. I don’t mind this, though, because I will usually get multiple orders at once from there. Tips are usually higher on these orders, too. Honestly, tips are what make this job possible. The base pay for each completed order is $3 and we don’t earn an hourly wage. Without a tip added, I can’t cover my operating costs and make a living wage.

The 4 to 7 dinner rush is more varied. Some of the most popular places are Panda Express and Chipotle, but the nicer, local restaurants usually garner the best tips. Because I don’t accept orders that are more than a few miles away, it makes better financial sense to stay as close as possible to the areas with a high density of restaurants. The flexibility of this job is a lifesaver so that I may spend as much time as possible with our daughter.

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