Over the past few weeks of COVID-19 / coronavirus / global pandemic chaos, one thing that has saved my sanity is… food! Keeping my family nourished and healthy, happy and satisfied. So also during this time, my side gig has become ordering grocery delivery either online and on via Apps.
I’ve been ordering our own family groceries and making sure my mom is well-stocked too. And I’ve acquired a few tips that have helped me lock in time slots and get items that have been hard to come by. Hope these tips can help our your family grocery ordering needs as well…
Stay Safe, Stay Home
If you are low risk enough to be able to go out and brave the grocery stores to shop, that’s great. You can always wear a mask, latex gloves (if you have those things) or at the very least wash your hands well before and after your trip.
But if you are like me – higher risk for getting coronavirus for whatever reason – pregnancy and asthma being mine – there are plenty of ways to have your groceries delivered to your doorstep. Here are my tips for doing that successfully in these tough times…
9 Tips for Ordering Grocery Delivery
Here are my nine tips for securing your favorite and most-needed grocery items for delivery!
Tip #1 – Know Your Options + Use Multiple Services
When it comes to companies doing online grocery delivery, try and know more than one option. Especially if you live in a busy city like LA and I’m assuming NYC too.
Grocery Delivery Apps/brands:
- Amazon PrimeNow – Retailers include Whole Foods + Amazon + a local grocery store. Delivery is usually anywhere from one hour to a few days. Lately, you have to order a day ahead of time.
PrimeNow is my favorite option for grocery delivery. They always place the groceries on the doorstep — with zero interaction required, you pay + tip via the App, and they are extremely dependable when it comes to customer service and returns / order problems.
Coolest thing about PrimeNow – it is FREE when you are a Prime member. Sometimes delivery slots at a premium are an additional $4.99.
My only complaints are that 1) You cannot add items after submitting your order and 2) I wish they secured your items when you ordered them — and not when they are shopped for. I get quite a few sold-outs / substitutions.
- InstaCart (nationwide) Instacart is another great option, similar to PrimeNow. However, from my experience, delivery slots are very hard to come by. and for me, I find their App less easy to navigate compared to Amazon PrimeNow. Personal preferences I guess.
- Shipt – This is a service I discovered this past month. I don’t personally use it for myself, but I started using it to order groceries for my mom. I like it because it seems to have a very wide delivery range and store options. From Ralphs and Vons to even Target and pet stores.
You have to be a member and pay a monthly fee. But customer service is great. You load up your cart with items and hope for a timeslot. The best thing about Shipt is that they are super communicative during the shop – via texting directly – and they also allow you to add or remove items up until your shopper starts! PrimeNow does NOT let you do that. We were also able to get a CVS prescription delivered via Shipt. Another perk of this service.
- Amazon Fresh – Another option from Amazon. The delivery slots are not as instant and the products are not as wide-ranged. If you are used to shopping at Whole Foods and natural foods stores, Fresh might now be your thing. But they do sometimes have big items like paper towels and flour etc…
- Postmates – Yup, the Postmates App delivers from some grocery stores here in LA.
- Thrive Market – Delivers all sorts of natural-type ingredients and wellness items. Requires a monthly membership fee. Really awesome if you regularly need healthy pantry items and specialty items you cannpt find in store near you.
- Local Delivery Chains – So we have a local company that delivers in a half hour. It’s hard to snag slots and groceries are limited, but it’s another great option for us. They usually have us sign and tip, but these days, shoppers are sticking cash tips to the door and asking delivery drivers to sign for them.
- Google Shopping – I’m not really familiar with this service, but it’s available to check out!
Look for the Helpers
Another example, this awesome website zoomerstoboomers.com was started by local teens in Santa Barbara, California to deliver groceries for FREE to seniors. Good people are everywhere. Keep your eyes open for helpers if you can’t leave your home to shop. Neighborhood Facebook groups and such may also be a way to reach helpful people.
NYC Grocery Delivery
If you are in the NYC area, this is an excellent guide for grocery delivery services. Including places like Max Delivery, PeaPod and more.
Tip #2 – Order Early + Aim for Early Slots
My best tip has been having my cart ready and loaded by the time I go to sleep. Then when I randomly wake up at 3, 4 or even 6 am – as one will do when pregnant and also when one has crazy cats – I grab my phone and check for delivery time slots. I usually snag a slot anywhere from 12-6am!
Then I go back to sleep. Again, PrimeNow has been my go-to delivery service of choice. They seem to have random slots open up sometimes.
Midnight Refresh?… YES!
UPDATE: The other night I checked Amazon Prime at 11pm and … no slots. I checked again at 12:03 and slots opened up for both Whole Foods and Amazon deliveries! So maybe the slots refresh at midnight… give it a try and let me know if that helps.
Early Shopping is Best
If you can snag an early grocery delivery time slot 5am – noonish… that will be your best bet for getting all your groceries. Later in the day, items may be out of stock.
Tip #3 – Try Adding Only One Item
Weird tip, but try it for must-have items. I have seen time slots pop up when I have only one item in my PrimeNow cart.
This is not practical at all, but if there is one item you really need, give it a try. UPDATE: Be very prepared to have your order cancelled… But for crucial items, it’s worth a try.
Tip #4 – Order in Bulk
I was having the hardest time finding my favorite sprouted grain bread in stock. So last week, I went on regular old Amazon and ordered it in bulk. Sure, I paid more than I would at the store. But delivery was free (Prime member here) and bread is an important staple for me right now.
In about a week, three loaves of bread plopped on my doorstep!
I later did this with my favorite Beanfield’s chips. And for paper towels too. Amazon isn’t the fastest way to order things, but if you can wait a bit, and don’t mind ordering in bulk, give it a try.
I always bulk order for our cats too! Don’t forget the pets! We use Chewy mostly.
Tip #5 – Be Persistent
Nope, I wasn’t kidding when I said that grocery delivery was my side gig right now. I check items and time slots multiple times a day. I add groceries to multiple carts and when a slot pops up I snag it.
Sure, my order is never perfect, but it’s been working to keep my kitchen pretty well-stocked. For me, it’s not only feeding my fam, but also my job! And I want to give you guys fresh new – pantry friendly – recipes during this mass-cooking-at-home time period.
Tip #6 – Be Creative
Grocery Delivery, think outside the box, er, bag!
I have seen some farmer’s market vendors offering local delivery. And some restaurants have even been selling some of their ingredients. One restaurant is even offering a free roll of toilet paper with your food order.
When I was out of hand sanitizer, I noticed my friend Leslie selling a DIY version! So I contacted her and stocked up. Buy Clean Hands Here.
Don’t give up if you are feeling frustrated. Do some googling and ask around locally in groups and social media.
updated: look for restaurants delivering ingredients/produce boxes
I took advantage of this just this morning and it was SO successful! Not only did I get a MASSIVE organic produce box for $50, I’m talking massive, I also scored flour (which I can’t find on demand anywhere) and some loaves of bread and organic strawberries. I purchased these from a local chain called Rockenwagner Bakery.
Spago is also doing some gorgeous-looking delivery produce boxes and kits…
I found resources in this LA Times article.
Another resource for finding restaurants doing kits and boxes: Eater.
Tip #7 – Order Direct
I love this option. There are a bunch of ways that you can order specific items directly from the producer. good examples of this are some bakeries and places like Miyoko’s Vegan Cheese.
VegNews has an excellent guide to delivered items that you can buy – many of them direct from the producers, and some are more general vegan-friendly online stores. Stock up on vegan cheese! Many companies deliver directly…
Tip #8 – Try Subscription Boxes
Subscription-type boxes and meal kits are another way to get groceries and ingredients delivered to your door. Some options include:
- Farm Fresh To You
- Imperfect Foods (produce delivery)
- Local Farm Boxes / CSAs
- Blue Apron
- Veestro – read my review
- Daily Harvest (smoothies!)
- Purple Carrot
- Vegin’ Out
- Mama Sezz
- And more!
Tip #9 – Make a List + Rotate Your Recipes!
Normally for groceries, I can just run out to the store and buy a few things, but these days, a grocery delivery list is really handy.
Rotate your fave recipes – one of my fave tips
We have been making the same sorts of meals on frequent rotation to cut down on a vast list of ingredients. Find some solid pantry meals you love and make them again and again.
And don’t forget to check for those ‘always out’ items like toilet paper and hand sanitizer. They just might pop up, so you still want them on your list.
Sanitizing your Groceries?
FAQ: What Happens When You Unpack Everything???
The video below has been floating around for a while. And while I don’t agree with everything shown, especially the ‘washing produce with regular hand soap’ part. I’m not the only one who disagrees with this.
BUT, it’s a good general example of one method for sanitizing groceries at home…
My personal protocol has been a bit different. Especially since I get so many fresh produce items.
Grocery Washing – I have been using:
- This natural fruit and veggie wash for produce, along with both hot water followed by cool water to freshen up leafy greens and veggies and berries.
- hot water and apple cider vinegar when I am low on fruit and veggie wash. (note: vinegar hasn’t been show to be effective, but I’m still using it as a backup.)
- disinfectant wipes for all grocery packaging! But after wiping down, I do a good rinsing of the packages to remove any cleaner residue. Rinsing any chemicals off cleaned packaging is SO IMPORTANT!!!
Great Article for reference: Consumer Reports: Common Household Products that can Destroy Coronavirus.
biggest sanitization note: I’m just doing the best I can. Do your best and try not to stress yourself out – but take this step of grocery shopping seriously. Especially if you are high risk.
Leaving Groceries in the Car / On the Porch for a Few Days?
This is an odd suggestion, but I’ve seen it in numerous places, including that viral video of the doctor I posted above. It may be something to consider if you are doing regular grocery shopping for non-perishables via your own car. But for most people, I really don’t think this is practical.
Why Soap Works – Science
While right now, the CDC doesn’t specifically reference groceries, it does have some very good advice on disinfecting surfaces etc. CDC COVID-19 Prevention.
Really Important Food Safety for Disinfecting Groceries…
I’m just going to quote this whole paragraph because it’s so so important…
“Don’t use chemicals on produce.
Don’t bleach the veggies or use chlorine on the fruit. No disinfecting wipes or isopropyl alcohol, either.
“These are not safe for human consumption and could make you sick,” Goulet-Miller said. And if you digest enough soap, it could be toxic, Schaffner warns.
“Those soaps and detergents are designed for washing hands or for washing dishes and they’re not designed for washing food,” he said. “If you don’t get it all off it might cause an upset stomach.”– USA TODAY
In Conclusion: Grocery Delivery
So! To recap. Know the options in your area and use more than one grocery delivery service. Check for slots and items at odd hours of the day – like overnight. Be persistent! Ask around! And get creative when need be.
And above all, be sure to put your health first! If you do not feel safe going to the store, ask around. There are helpers out there that can give you a literal hand. And never open the door to a delivery person if you don’t feel safe doing so. Tape a note to the door. Leave the payment/tip in an envelope stuck to your door, whatever.
Tip Delivery People When You Can.
These delivery guys and gals are on the front lines of this crisis. Give them an extra thank you (even if shouted through the door) and tip when you can.
Hope This Helped!
Hope these tips help you secure all your most needed and most loved grocery items so that you can be cooking happily and healthfully at home.
Sending lots of love, Kathy