I don’t go grocery shopping anymore…
Well, that’s not entirely true. I rarely go grocery shopping at a brick-and-mortar store anymore. In other words, I outsourced my grocery shopping!
As a full time working woman, wife, mother and any other variety of titles that translate to “I’m busy!”, I have learned that I am much happier when I prioritize my family, favorite activities and personal care over tasks that either drive me crazy or bore me. And one of the most tedious yet necessary tasks on my list is grocery shopping.
While I enjoy planning our meals and I am not completely incompetent at preparing them (though if my husband were to be honest, we both prefer the results when he cooks!), I do not have an affinity for shopping.
- Pre-Kid Shopping: I used to carelessly slip in and out of stores after work or on the way home from my Saturday morning gym class.
- Post-Kid and Pre-Optimized Shopping: I now have a rambunctious toddler and work from a home office. As a result, I was doing most of the shopping while Mr. AR is working on Saturdays. Cue a hectic day battling the crowds and overstuffed shelves of a big box store (which always takes about an hour longer than I expect!) or hopping from one small store to another to check off all the boxes on my list while AR Junior complains about how many times I have to wrestle him in and out of his car seat.
By the time we got home, we were quite the cranky duo. AR Junior would practically beg to take a nap as I grasped for a midday glass of wine. We must have been an absolute delight to Mr. Adventure Rich as he arrived home from work, tripping over the groceries strewn across our entryway. After a few months of this routine, I decided something needed to change.
Project Shopping Optimization
Enter several of my best friends. Amazon Subscribe & Save, Google Express, Shipt, and small grocery stores/farm markets.
Set up a system that eases the burden of shopping, is simple with a small child, and is time efficient and relatively cost-effective.
Now yes, I know this is not a “one-stop shop” or a completely simple solution, but I like puzzles and I believe I have found a groove that fits all the pieces into place in a relatively workable manner.
Amazon Subscribe & Save
Amazon Subscribe and Save Offer
Amazon S&S is not cost-effective for many items, but I have found that there are a few staples in our household that price nicely here. I regularly buy several types of baby/toddler snacks (Plum Organics Mighty 4 Squeeze Packs and Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies to name a few) and granola bars on Amazon S&S. I know I know, I’m supposed to be a good mom and make all of my child’s baby food from scratch but remember the part about full-time working mom? Right. Squeeze packs for the kiddo and granola bars for Mr. AR and me.
Another perk- Amazon S&S does include a “Save” aspect. We score a 5% discount (not huge, but it’s something!) for any subscriptions with 1-4 items in a given month. 5 or more items? Now you have 15% off! And Amazon S&S tends to be quite flexible. We are not committed to certain subscription lengths (we have tried items for 1 month and immediately canceled) and we can skip items or whole months with a click of the mouse.
Amazon Subscribe and Save Cost
No upfront cost and free shipping.
Google Express Offer
Google Express was my first introduction to grocery shopping outside of Amazon… and it blew my mind! We live in the middle of nowhere northern Michigan (near a “city” but not near any big cities). I heard Paula Pant over at the Afford Anything Podcast mention Google Express on her podcast and assumed that, like most delivery/app-based local services (AmazonFresh, Instacart), it would not be available in our area. We don’t even have Uber, so how the heck would we have Google Express?!? I was so wrong and I am so glad I was! Google Express allows me to shop from several stores (including stores not in our area) and items are shipped right to my doorstep.
I discovered that Google Express in the middle of a frenzy of work travel that had me jetting across the country 4 out of 5 consecutive weeks in early 2017. With Google Express, I was able to check the shopping list Mr. AR shared with me, order necessary items and *poof they magically appeared at our doorstep the next day… all while I was rushing around NYC attending meetings! Life. Saver. I use Google Express for household items and bulk items I would be buying at Costco or other big box stores (toilet paper, toothpaste, pasta, nuts, cereal, maple syrup, and even some spices or bread).
“Honey, I went shopping today…”
Google Express Cost
$95/year for the general subscription. With a membership, there is a $15/store minimum (with some exceptions…a few stores require $35/store minimum) in order to avoid a $3/order “Small Order Fee”.
Without a membership- you can still use Google Express for a $4.99/order fee.
Costco and other Membership Stores: Google prompts users to enter a Costco membership if you are purchasing items from Costco. Not a Costco member? Google tacks on a 10% “access fee” for your Costco order.
I am in love with Shipt in the same way I am in love with Google Express. Shipt is a subscription app that recently came to town in partnership with Meijer, a midwest grocery chain. With Shipt, I can order groceries, including perishables such as produce, dairy, frozen food, meat, and have the items delivered to my door in a one-hour time-period of my choosing. Once I place my order, it is claimed by a local Shipt shopper who goes to Meijer and shops for me. If they have any questions or an item is out of stock, they text me for clarification (I could also choose for a call or have the shopper make a decision for me).
$99/yr + the prices are slightly higher than in the store. I also choose to tip the shopper- adding another $4-5/order.
Local Grocery Stores/Farm Market
And the final piece of the puzzle. While Amazon S&S, Google Express and Shipt take care of a majority of my grocery needs, I still need a solution for small batch buys (to avoid the minimums required by Shipt/Google Express), last minute items, beer, beer, beer and other odds and ends (bourbon anyone?). And with my aversion to big box stores, I try to shop for these items at smaller grocery stores (local if possible) or farm markets. The ease of gliding through one store or swinging by the local farm stand allows me to make a quick trip, focus on the items I need and make my trip in a timeframe that is suitable for both my son and I.
Bonus Points Round
If you have never heard of Lucky’s, don’t worry, I just discovered this gem in the last year. A Lucky’s Market recently opened in our home town and I am in love! It reminds me of Whole Foods but is much more affordable and (get this…) has a “Sip & Shop” offering. They have about 5 local craft brews on tap for $2 a pint and wine for $3 which they put into a shopping cart attachment to accommodate your “sipping while you shop”. With alcohol prices that reasonable, Lucky’s has become a valid option for date night in the Adventure Rich household.
Local Farm Market
The nearest farm market (about 1.5 miles from our home) is actually located on a farm, which makes shopping there an event! I can walk there with AR Junior, quickly shop for the produce, milk, and bakery items I need, then take him out back to see the chickens, pigs, rabbits and sheep. He loves it!
Pros and Cons
Pros: Less time shopping, fewer impulse buys, less stress.
Now, this system works really well for me, but there is a trade-off. I am the first to admit that this is not the most cost effective way to shop and I do not always buy a product at the cheapest price. I try to do some basic shopping around and price comparisons, but then I make a decision and move on.
Why? Because this system has given me more stress-free and meaningful time to spend with my family.
As a full-time working mom, I highly value my time and do not want to spend my weekend struggling through a slew of grocery stores. I would much rather be pursuing another adventure with my family, enjoying the beautiful area we live in or just cuddling up with a good book.
Always an Adventure,
Mrs. Adventure Rich