Buying Groceries Online Can Save You Money (And Shrink Your Waist)

The geeks have truly inherited the Earth, and it’s a wonderful thing. You know why? Because in this day and age, there’s actually very little that we need to interact with another human being to obtain. Don’t get me wrong, part of my mission here is to help you become more confident and more adept at interacting with those other human beings, but sometimes and for some things, it’s worth considering an automated solution so you can spend more time doing the things that really matter to you. Whether it’s getting your game on or working on that pet project you’ve always wanted to, why spend time cooped up pushing a cart through reams of people and screaming children if you’re just trying to get some groceries?

With online grocery delivery services like Fresh Direct, Peapod, Amazon Fresh, and others, in some cases there’s no need to leave the house in order to get your weekly groceries, replenish your depleted pantry, or stock your fridge with the food you need to get through the week. There are some caveats, obviously, but by and large, these services can not only make it easy and convenient for you to get your snacks and munchies, but they can also help you save money and keep you from overbuying at the grocery store through impulse purchases and bait-and-switch sales, and they can even help you lose weight in the process.

I’m not kidding. Let’s take a look at how behind the jump.

Like I said, there are some pretty significant caveats worth mentioning, but shopping for groceries and non-perishables online keeps you stuck laser focused to a list of items that you need to buy Moncler outlet, and as you add items to your cart and see your subtotal increasing with each individual can of soup or bag of chips, there’s more of an incentive to make sure your total stays as low as you can make it.

Why Shopping Online Works

When you’re walking through a grocery store, the odds are stacked against you keeping to a grocery list of the essentials and maybe a few treats. Endcaps blaring sales on marked up items, low-stock on items that are on-sale while more expensive items are plentiful on store shelves nearby. You’re taunted by sale stickers, the smell of freshly baking bread, free samples, and a cart, just empty and waiting for you to fill it. Grocery stores themselves are designed to take you on the longest possible route from the front doors of the store to the checkouts, forcing you to make a circuit of the store starting usually with produce and forcing you to walk past aisles upon aisles of foods and goods you’re less likely to need to get to the items that are on most shopper’s grocery lists.

None of those things are necessarily bad – grocery stores use psychology to get us to spend more money, and in turn we have to develop the discipline or the tools to help us stick to our guns (and our budgets) and only buy the things we need as opposed to filling our carts with the things we want.

Thankfully, shopping for groceries online helps us out with that to a large extent. Services like Peapod and Fresh Direct will bring your entire grocery list right to your door; produce, dairy, meats, and all. If you’ve ever used one of these services, you’ll realize that while many of them try to emulate the feeling of browsing aisles in an all-text format, sitting in front of your computer with a list of things you need to buy is very different from walking through a store with a list in your hand.

There’s no “oh, what’s that?” and reaching for the shiny new item on the shelf with “new!” or “low price!” hung from a tag beneath it when you shop online, there’s no rounding an aisle and seeing the paper towels on the endcap that are on sale this week, and even though you don’t really need them you’re tempted to buy them – you’re entirely more likely to add the items you want delivered to your list, check out, and pay your bill.

Granted, most of these services offer you coupons or bargains for “similar items” or other related products to the ones you’re already buying, but as with shopping online anywhere, you’re less likely to fall for suggested or related items than you would be in a brick-and-mortar store.

In essence, you’re entirely more likely to stick to a grocery shopping list and a budget if you shop for groceries online – if for no other reason than the lack of distractions, sales on items you don’t need, attractions that have nothing to do with your list, and bait and switch tactics to get you to buy items you may not need. Shopping online makes it easier to stay on top of the costs of the items you’re adding to your cart, and how much of your list you’ve crossed off – and to make sure that when you have everything from your list in your cart, you stop shopping and check out.

Of course, it ideally takes less time to shop for groceries on a Website than it does to browse the aisles of a grocery store, and it takes less time to check out then it would to stand in line behind a half dozen people, all complaining about the size of the line. It’s also more convenient, in that you can schedule to have your groceries delivered at a certain time of day on a day of your choosing.

If you’re on a diet or trying to lose weight, shopping for groceries online is an excellent way to force you to pay attention to the food that you eat. Since you can often view the nutritional information of the foods that you find online, you can make sure you’re adding food to your cart that’s actually good for you, instead of just food that you may think matches up with the items on your list. You can weigh nutritional information over attractive packaging and beautiful color, and you can have the clarity of thought and presence of mind to buy light versions or healthier versions of the foods you want to buy. Similarly, you don’t wind up overbuying snacks and other foods because they’re there or you’re hungry.

Caveats

Like I said, there are some caveats. For example, before you start shopping for produce, meats, and other products where a careful, selective eye is required in order to ensure quality, you may want to make sure that the grocery store or the delivery people who bring your food to you are reputable and that you trust them. Start with produce that you’re okay experimenting with, like onions, potatoes, carrots, or root vegetables that are a bit more robust and you can tell whether your order was processed by folks who just grabbed the first ones off of the top of the pile, or someone at least tried to get you good produce.

The same applies for meats – once you’re comfortable that the business you’re ordering from provides quality, and you’re sure you have recourse if you think you have sub-standard meats or produce (make sure to check this before starting your orders!) then ease into it until they’ve earned your trust.

Since you’re relinquishing your eyes to convenience and the time to do other things, you’ve got to make sure you won’t be let down. If the delivery services in your area consistently bring you awful Moncler outlet cuts of meat and over-ripe produce, then you know you’ll still have to drop in to your local grocer or farmer’s market for produce, and your best bet is to use them for non-perishables, box goods (pastas, cereals, grains), and other off-the-shelf items only.

Conclusions

On the other hand, if they earn your trust – you could have a convenient, affordable, and time-saving way to buy your groceries without having to leave the house unless you choose to.

I know, I know, this kind of technology could be the end of civilization, we’ll never learn to interact with one another again – but let’s be honest, does anyone really have meaningful interactions in the grocery store outside of the movies? Only in Hollywood will boy meet girl in the frozen food section. In the rest of the world, we’re surrounded by crying children, people who leave their carts directly in our path, and judgmental folks who stare into our carts and judge us on the food we’re buying.

I’m suggesting that shopping for groceries online can definitely replace shopping for groceries in store for most needs and for the bulk of your regular shopping needs, especially as more grocery chains and stores expand their online and direct-to-door delivery operations. However, I’m not suggesting that shopping for groceries online should ever replace finding quality ingredients and shopping in stores or markets where your business is appreciated and you get high quality goods: places like farmers markets, small shops, specialty stores, and the like.

When it comes to replenishing your toilet paper and your macaroni and cheese, and when you’re running low on tomatoes or butter, or your body wash and shampoo reserves are dangerously low, taking your grocery list to your computer instead of out the door to your local supermarket can save you money and help you shop smarter, lighter, and the shopping session can end with your groceries brought into your kitchen by a deliveryperson at a time that works for you. And what do you get for the trouble? A fatter wallet, a less stressful week, more time to do the things that matter to you, and hopefully, a thinner waist and more food knowledge in the process.

images in this post courtesy of flickr user busbeytheelder, (DSC_9348) erostrend, (P5274126) and Barbara Bramblett. (VanDykes13)

Author Description

Alan Henry

There are 7 comments. Add yours

  1. 4th July 2010 | pastilla says:
    Two things I always look for: a) grocery websites that let you save an order for future reference! This is extremely handy if you are the designated shopper in the household and suddenly find yourself busy or sick --- it's extremely convenient to click "Re-Order" and know that 4-5 days worth of items are on their way, your cupboards will be stocked with all the essentials, and you don't have to pretend to be grateful when someone else attempts to do the grocery shopping and forgets all the stuff you need, buys a bunch of expensive, useless crap. b) grocery websites that offer generics and specials! Customers shouldn't be prevented from having a deal just because they are ordering online.I like having the option of spending $2 instead of $4 for a can of crushed tomatoes or taking advantage of a good deal on steaks . . .
  2. 5th July 2010 | Narilka says:
    I've been using Amazon Fresh for a year, as of this month, and I can't say enough good things about it. I especially like that Amazon even offers the nutritional labels on a lot of their items, as you mention, because it does help me make an educated decision. I just hope these services continue to be around. I'm always weary of things going the way of Kozmo.com. :(
  3. Pingback: TechTV Forever // » Blog Archive » This Week at The Classy Geek… July 5, 2010

    […] Buying Groceries Online Can Save You Money (And Shrink Your Waist) […]

  4. 7th July 2010 | kanundra says:
    I've tried grocery shopping online in the past and found it to be quite a bit more expensive than the grocery store. This is mostly due to deep discounts on sale items, but maybe I should reinvestigate some of these services and see if they've becom competitive on price.
  5. Pingback: Buying Groceries Online Can Save You Money (And Shrink Your Waist) « The Classy Geek | Conserving Money July 22, 2010

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  6. 6th August 2010 | Pamela says:
    I was a bit hesitant to buy groceries online at first but I can see that there's really is a difference. There are lot of coupons that can help you save even more. I still do my groceries at the store especially if when I feel like walking but if you when you want to lessen your grocery bills, shop online.
  7. Pingback: millennium winter :: a reflection not so whole » algebra of delight August 6, 2010

    […] also thinking I should take my own advice (since I did pen an article at The Classy Geek about how shopping for groceries online can save you money and be healthy) and make a Peapod order and get myself some […]

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