How to Save Money on Your Next Online Grocery Order, According to an Instacart Shopper

published Nov 12, 2022
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Credit: Instacart

Online grocery shopping is a huge convenience for many. It’s extremely helpful for those who don’t own cars, are homebound and unable to get out to shop, or people who want or need to outsource the shopping. As an avid Instacart customer (I’ve used it at least once a week for the last four years!), I’m always looking for ways to spend less while grocery shopping online.

To help me find ways to stretch my online grocery budget, I chatted with Instacart shopper Ayanna Baker. Baker is also a retired chef, so she knows a thing or two about getting the most out of your ingredients. Here are three of her favorite money-saving tips when you’re shopping for groceries online.

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1. Set up a system for replacement items.

Sometimes an item you’ve added to your cart isn’t available when the shopper goes to the shelf to pick it up. Depending on what’s in stock, those replacement groceries can really add up, which is why Baker recommends you set up a system. “As a shopper, I always reach out with a greeting and mention replacements; however, I understand some shoppers may not do that.” 

In those instances, Baker recommends asking shoppers to share options via a photo or have a quick chat if something needs to be replaced. You’ll want to make sure you’re available during this time, so the person shopping isn’t waiting around for your response.

Credit: Instacart

2. Opt for curbside pickup.

If you can drive to pick up your groceries, pickup options are often less expensive than delivery fees. (At the time I checked, grocery pickup for the next morning was $3.99 and delivery was $7.99.) Instacart shoppers, like Baker, will still shop your order and even load the groceries into your car. Bonus: If you’re an Instacart+ member, you can earn money back — five percent on eligible pickup orders.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. Order shelf-stable items in bulk and all at once.

I used to do the exact opposite. Rather than doing one bulk shop, I would order my groceries, particularly the heavier ones, like bottled water, dog food, flour and other grains, etc., over several weeks to avoid Instacart’s heavy order fee, which kicks in on orders that exceed 50 pounds. But after chatting with Baker, I’m convinced that placing fewer bulk orders is the more cost-effective way to shop.

When I checked my previous orders, the heavy order fee was $2.50, which is consistently less than the delivery fee (same-day delivery fees start at $3.99 for orders over $35), so by stocking up all at once I’m able to shop less frequently and pay less in service fees.

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Are you an Instacart shopper with a tip to share? Tell us in the comments in below!