When my husband and I lived in New York City, we became spoiled. Every two weeks, a truck would show up to our second-floor walkup, and a strapping young man would deliver fresh groceries to our door. How did we get sucked into such a luxury? FreshDirect, the city's top grocery deliverer, was offering a promo for first-time customers, and Johnny and I decided to give it a try. We found that promo or not, having our groceries delivered was comparable and often cheaper than shopping at our local grocers. No more carrying groceries five blocks as each of our fingers slowly lost circulation? Yes, please.
While grocery delivery may currently only be the norm in metro areas, soon it may be an option for you. And you. And you. Amazon.com (AMZN) and Walmart Stores (WMT) have recently joined the grocery delivery industry. While AmazonFresh was only available in Seattle just a year ago, it has now expanded to San Francisco and Los Angeles. Before you shrug this off as a modern-day fairytale (delivery by drone?) or just an unnecessary extravagance, consider the following reasons grocery delivery could save you money -- and most definitely time:
No More Impulse or Distracted Purchases
Oreos on a screen are much less tempting than an actual package in a grocery store. Marketers spend millions of dollars figuring out the most effective ways of tempting you while you browse the aisles. By shopping online, you can stay focused on the shopping list. And you won't have a toddler screaming and grabbing items off the shelf as you struggle to compare prices on salad dressing.
However unbelievable it may seem, prices for delivered groceries tend to be comparable to local grocers. And just like local grocers, delivery services offer coupons, weekly specials and price matching. Some companies even waive the delivery fee once your total reaches a certain amount. My husband and I made a habit of only ordering if we had a coupon for free delivery, which happened regularly.
Grocery delivery eliminates the costs incurred for traveling to and from the grocery store, which means no more money spent on gasoline or a cab fare. And the opportunity cost of avoiding the grocery store means you can do your shopping while watching Jimmy Fallon at night.
Knowing the Total Before You Buy
I try to add up how much my groceries are going to cost as I shop in brick-and-mortar stores, but inevitably I lose count or get distracted. With online grocery shopping, you can see the total before you confirm your order. And that means you can check and double check whether each item is really necessary. It's both more difficult and less likely to go back on purchases that have already been rung up by a cashier.
While currently only a handful of cities have grocery delivery, within the next 10 years, it might be an option for most of the country. And when that day comes, you can bet that my wallet and I will be first in virtual line to have groceries delivered to our door, drone and all.
Joanna and Johnny are the writing duo behind OurFreakingBudget.com, a personal finance blog documenting the joys, pains and realities of living on a budget.
This advice applies to adults and kids alike. Plan out your shopping list before you head to the grocery store so you’re not tempted by impulse buys, and let any children along for the ride know that you plan on sticking with that list. Small expenditures add up to big money, so try to avoid giving in to any last-minute requests.
If your children continue to insist that you purchase their requested items, then ask them to bring their own piggy bank money. Remind your children they are only allowed to pick something they can afford. It's good practice for grown-up budgeting.
You might not have 20 hours a week to scour multiple publications for the best deals, but if you focus on searching for online coupons, you'll end up saving just as much. Search online for products with the word "coupon" afterward. For instance, if you're looking for Cascade dish soap, search for "Cascade dish soap coupons."
To make sure that you don't waste money on impulse buys, schedule your shopping around paydays. The day or day after you get paid should be your shopping day. Before you go shopping, make a list and make sure it has everything you'll need until the next shopping day on it. Now make a commitment to yourself that you will make what you're going to purchase last until the next shopping day.
Stocking your freezer with frozen meals can help you save money on lunch, since they cost just about $5 each. It can even be a healthier option because they help you practice portion control. Just make sure you're purchasing meals that have no preservatives, and watch out for sodium levels.
Don't waste your time making a sack lunch every day. Instead, prepare a week's worth of lunches on Sunday, and your body will thank you for the extra 10 to 30 minutes of sleep you'll gain each night. If you cook one big meal on Sunday, make sure it's easy to change up throughout the week. Chicken, rice and vegetables all cook quickly and taste great with different sauces and cheeses.
Most families throw away so much food on a weekly basis. A better idea is to turn your dinner leftovers into a lunchtime feast. Apps like BigOven help you use your leftovers to make yummy, new dishes. All you have to do is enter the ingredients you have, and the app will show you different recipe options for your leftovers. You'll save money using food that would have been thrown out.
If you know you have $400 to spend per month on your food budget, that's roughly $100 a week. Whether you shop once or twice per week or use cash or credit doesn't matter as long as you stay within your spending limits. Just be sure to only spend the amount you allotted per week.
Keep your shopping list in a set location so all members of the household can access it. Write estimated prices of the items you are going to buy next to each item on the checklist. It can serve a dual purpose as a price book you can use to guess how much you will spend.
If you've ordered from the kids menu at a restaurant recently, then you know how big the meals are – they're almost as big as meals for adults, and they can cost up to $10 each. If you have multiple children, an easy way to cut down on this expense is to have them share a meal. Not only does this lower the cost of feeding everyone, but it also cuts down on food waste.
Most stores are open late, and without the distraction of announcements, people and maybe even your kids, you can have your own Zen moment. When you are clearheaded, you're more likely to zone in on what you really need and leave out what you really don't. Plus, it's easier to give the cashier coupons without causing any delays for the people in line behind you.
We are a society consumed by all sorts of apps, but if you want to grocery shop, save money and still be lazy, let Favado, an app created by Savings.com, do the work for you. The app will tell you about items on sale from different stores, and if there is a store coupon or manufacturer coupon, it will also let you know that too. (Of course, you can just use it to scan the weekly ads to keep things simple.) And if you're already glued to your smartphone, it's easy to incorporate into your shopping routine.