Three packages of groceries

So I finally tried Instacart for the first time on Sunday. And I was impressed. It’s really a tradeoff of convenience and ability to stay home against paying a few reasonable fees. Could be especially good for parents (who don’t want to take kids who touch everything in stores) or others who might have reason to not want to venture out.

Starting is simple: You create an account (can do so via Google), pick a local store, request a delivery window and then shop online. In Oswego, you can get delivery from Aldi (my choice), Price Chopper or Tops, and can order for pickup from Wegmans. The selection of items are good, although the stock is not necessarily in real time — there’s a chance items might be out of stock, but you can select potential replacements with other brands or slightly different products.

Take ramen noodles, for example. My son’s mom said she couldn’t find them where she lived, and you can find the $2.50 12-packs selling for $20 on Amazon and eBay from profit-takers. I ordered two 12-packs (one for her, since Arius goes through a lot of it) and while Aldi was out of Maruchan, they subbed in Top Ramen for about the same price.

There are catches, of course. Currently, you need a $35 minimal order to lock in your prices. I paid a $3.99 delivery fee and a $2 service fee (the latter seems newish), plus tip. Tips are not stated as required, but certainly the right thing to do, especially nowadays. You can autotip different percentages as high as 20 percent, or a custom amount. These added expenses came to $15 for my order (for what was a lot of groceries). Instacart has coupons and special deals that can save money to its customers. I still prefer Bosco and Geers for meat and baked goods, and Ontario Orchards for fruits, veggies and baked goods (I love baked goods), but Instacart can take care of the rest.

I didn’t mind paying that, because I’ll trade money for convenience. Aldi through Instacart is great for dry goods, which is a large portion of my staple diet. I also wanted to do more baking, so needed things like more flour and brown sugar. Many of the things I buy at Aldi are a buck cheaper than I find elsewhere, so it balances out somewhat. I ordered mid-morning and had a 2 to 4 p.m. delivery window … and my food arrived at 1:45. The tip to a local hard-working gent was well-deserved.

Ultimately, I was able to stock up on some of my kid’s favorite foods while staying home and safe with him, playing and wondering what kind of person invented regrouping for elementary-school mathematics. For me, the tradeoff was definitely worth it.

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