I used to rely on grocery delivery services to save time. Now, I shop with my kids — they love it, and I save money.

  • Grocery delivery services can save time and energy, and I used to rely on them.

  • But I've mostly stopped using them and now, I shop with my kids instead.

  • I still use online grocery ordering in a pinch, but the added cost isn't worth it to me anymore.

When online grocery ordering became a thing, I quickly became hooked. It was a novelty to be able to shop from the couch and buy back an hour or so of time each weekend. Ordering groceries online suddenly made the unavoidable task of grocery shopping efficient, and I loved it.

After my kids were born, my love for online grocery ordering grew even more. Ordering online meant avoiding schlepping them and their gear into the store and made the process of getting groceries for the family much easier.

My perspective has changed as time has gone by. While I used to use a grocery delivery service nearly every week, I only use it in a pinch now.

Grocery shopping is an activity to do with my kids

Now that my kids are out of the baby phase, I always need weekend activities. Going to the grocery store can easily fill up 1-2 hours, and my girls really enjoy shopping. One store that we frequent offers free cookies to kids, one store has a train that circles the dairy section, and another has shopper-in-training carts that my oldest thinks are the coolest to push around as we shop.

My girls like to help put things into the cart and love suggesting different items to buy. I enjoy talking to them about the various things left on our list while they are securely nestled in the cart. If I want to extend the activity, I'll have them help me scan our items at self-checkout.

Elliott Harrell's daughter pushing the small cart at the grocery store.
Elliott Harrell's daughter loves pushing the small cart at the grocery store.Courtesy Elliott Harrell

The extra cost of online grocery ordering isn't worth it to me anymore

Ordering groceries online often costs more than shopping in the store, sometimes as much as 15% more for online items than in-store items. On top of that, there can be things like pick-up fees, service fees, delivery charges, and tips if you use a grocery delivery service.

Earlier in the pandemic, all these extra costs were worth it to me to avoid going to the store. The extra costs were also worth it when I had a newborn and didn't want to lug her into the store.

But with grocery prices rising, I had to rethink whether the additional costs were worth it. If I'm in a pinch, then I find they are. It's worth it to me to pay the extra cost for grocery delivery when I'm coming back from being out of town, for example, but otherwise, I can't justify the extra spend anymore. The fees can easily add $20-$30 (if not more) to our bill, and I'd rather use that money elsewhere.

Occasional mistakes mean I sometimes have to go grocery shopping anyway

On three occasions, I've shown up to collect my grocery order and found that someone else has claimed it. That's an extreme outcome, but other issues have popped up more frequently than they used to.

I've seen an uptick in the wrong item being selected, like the shopper selecting skin-on chicken breast when I requested boneless skinless chicken breast or selecting severely bruised produce. Shopping online means you need to select a specific item for the shopper to get. If I were shopping in person, I'd just grab an alternative if I couldn't find the exact item, but this doesn't usually happen when someone is shopping for you.

All of this means that I end up having to go to the grocery store anyway, usually stressed because I was counting on the grocery delivery service to save time. It's a wrinkle in my day that I'd rather avoid, which means I'm better off doing the shopping myself.

Using a grocery delivery service can save time and energy, but it also comes with added costs and, oftentimes, frustration. I'll continue to use it sparingly when I'm in a pinch, but otherwise will stick to in-person shopping.

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