Staying home this last year brought with it some new ways of doing things, and that certainly holds true for grocery shopping. For many of us those weekly (or maybe daily?) trips to the store turned into weekly clicks on our favorite retailer’s online sites. Given that grocery delivery is here to stay, we thought sharing our top tips for making the most of your online grocery shopping experience would be helpful:
Meal Planning Still Matters
Arguably one of the best parts of online grocery shopping is being able to have your weekly meal plan and recipes right by your side as you fill up your virtual cart. As is the case with a regular trip to the grocery store, making a meal plan for the week is important to ensure you don’t get more of what you don’t need and not enough of what you do. Be sure to check out our Kitchen Basics primer. The primer is full of tips on stocking a pantry and cooking easy, healthy meals with the essentials. Need some weekly dinner inspiration? Check out our collection of casserole recipes for some new family-friendly ideas. Or want to try a few new Vegetarian Recipes this week? Check out this collection of vegetarian recipes.
Find A New Fruit or Veggie
When you’re at the store piling the cart high with all the essentials on your list, it may not be that tempting to try something new from the fruit and veggie aisle. But why not make it a habit each week when online grocery shopping to try out a new fruit or vegetable since there’s plenty of room in your digital cart? Who knows… you might even find a fun new recipe while you’re online that gives you the perfect idea of what to try. Never tasted fennel? Give it a go in this Apple, Fennel and Cheddar. Never given spaghetti squash a try? You’ll love it in this Creamy Thai Style Spaghetti Squash Noodles. Grab those rainbow carrots that look interesting. They’ll make a delicious Roasted Carrots & Carrot Top Chimichurri. And keep in mind that for many “new” foods, acceptance can be increased by simply pairing the new choices with something you already know you love. A few slices of Cabot’s Extra-Sharp Cheddar will almost always pair nicely either paired with a fresh cut piece of fruit or melted over some roasted veggies.
Shopping online is the perfect opportunity to replace outdated condiments, dressings, marinades, herbs, and spices. These items often linger in the door of the fridge or in the cupboard for weeks, months, years. Yikes! What better time to take inventory, toss old items, and add replacements to your virtual cart? Additionally, you may want to check inventory of common household items like napkins, paper towels, trash bags, and detergent.
Check Nutrition Facts
Many sites include images of the product, including the nutrition facts label. Be informed and check out the package of nutrition provided by the food, as well as the ingredient list. There may be items you buy week after week that have a healthier alternative that you want to try. Some retailers include icons, as well, to indicate a food is gluten free, kosher, organic, and more to flag things that might be important to consumers.
Be Ready For Replacements
The lack of control in ensuring you get exactly what you order can be frustrating. First know that each online site and app may handle substitutions a little differently. You may be able to pre-select replacement options for everything on your list or at least for the things that you want to ensure you get only a specific substitute. Conversely, you may be able to indicate that a substitution is not acceptable. In that case the item will be deleted from the order. If specialty items that address a dietary concern, like gluten-free, are on the list, indicating what is an appropriate substitute is important. Shoppers aren’t always aware of what makes for the best substitute.
On many sites and apps you can note how you prefer your produce. Want bananas a little green or avocados a little firm? Be sure to note that on your order so you are not disappointed with your delivery.
Hungry? No Problem
There is a common saying, “Don’t shop when you are hungry.” The reason, research proves that grocery shopping with a rumbling tummy leads shoppers to purchase high-calorie foods. Shopping in the comfort of your own home, eliminates these impulse buys and allows you to fill up, while you fill your online cart.
Take Back Some Time
Without a doubt, shopping online can save time, lots of time. If you have created an account and placed an order with a retailer, you can often just begin your cart with what you purchased last. Consider swapping, what would have been, time spent shopping with some physical activity.
Think Through Delivery Day
The balance between getting the time slot you want and the time slot that’s available can be a challenge, especially in busier markets where time slots fill up fast. But before you grab the first available slot, be sure that it’s a time that realistically meets with your schedule. There’s nothing worse than forgetting a delivery is on its way, only to have your refrigerated and frozen goods sit on your doorstep.