Grocery Shopping Is Changing
As full-time RVers, it’s no big deal to restock groceries when we start to get low. Whether we’re in Eugene, Oregon, Revelstoke, BC, Galveston, Texas, or anywhere, it’s just not a problem. There are grocery stores everywhere and for the most part, they’re pretty much the same, even if the brands and store arrangements are different.
With the increase of options in the prepared meal and grocery home delivery landscape, you might not have to go to the store yourself any more. We decided to try out a grocery delivery service rather than going to the grocery store ourselves.
The downside of grocery delivery
It seemed like a good idea, but there’s a downside. We were preparing to leave our site in Palm Desert when we first made this decision. Our first effort to order groceries from Whole Foods was a time-consuming process of finding the items on their website, choosing what size, brand, and quantity of each item and adding it all to our cart.
The process probably took 45 minutes. Once we got to the check-out screen, we needed to pick a delivery time, and at this point, we learned that there were no delivery times available. That information would have been helpful to know before we spent 45 minutes filling up the shopping cart.
Thinking that Whole Foods might be temporarily short of drivers, we tried to change the order to curbside pick-up, just to learn this store didn’t offer curbside service. We tabled the whole grocery idea for a few days to see if things would improve, and a few days later there were a few limited delivery dates, but none before our departure date.
Delivery availability only revealed at check-out
At that time, we gave up on Whole Foods and switched to Ralphs. Of course, we had to start all over, and the process took another hour. Again, we couldn’t access the delivery options until we were in the checkout process and sadly there were no delivery dates available before our departure.
We were tempted to just chuck the whole idea, and go to a grocery store to buy our supplies, but we were determined to embrace the new normal. We would stick it out and figure out how to get groceries delivered.
We left Palm Desert a few days later with whatever groceries were in the rig and we started on the final leg of our 6-month around the country journey to get back to Oregon. We weren’t concerned about our food supply, we needed a few things, but we had enough to eat. Even though the process had been frustrating, we weren’t worse for wear.
Plan Your Grocery Needs
As we got closer to Oregon, we decided to try the online grocery delivery one more time. This time we were planning ahead. In fact, we were near Sacramento, CA when we placed the order.
Instead of trying to get the groceries before leaving a location, we were anticipating our arrival and scheduling the order for the arrival date. But now we were obliged to order from Fred Meyers because we’d be leaving Ralphs behind in California, and the Whole Food Markets in Eugene, Oregon, did not offer delivery or curbside pick-up.
A new store meant a new order… new brands, sizes, quantities, etc. The process was becoming familiar, but not faster. Again, during checkout, we learned that the Eugene Fred Meyers store only offered curbside pick-up, which we surmised would be almost as safe as delivery. We finalized our order for over $230 worth of groceries to be picked up, in Eugene, four days later.
By the time we arrived in Eugene, supplies were getting low, so we decided to throw caution to the wind and go to the Whole Foods Market before stopping at Fred Meyers to pick up our main order. As it turned out, we’re grateful for that decision.
We arrived at Whole Foods right before the dinner hour and were encouraged to see very few people at the store. The store was well stocked and it was easy to maintain social distancing. Since we were not sure what to expect from Fred Meyers, we fortunately decided to purchase most of the items that were on our original list.
The plan and the reality differ
To make a long story short, we went to Fred Meyers to pick up our original order. The order was not ready (they were short-handed) and many of the items we had ordered were not available.
Out of the 89 items we’d ordered they could only deliver 15, which included, ironically, three packages of taco sauce mix, but none of the ingredients for the tacos. All in all, our $230 worth of groceries cost $26, which took another phone call with the pick-up manager, and 4 more days to get the charges straightened out in our bank account.
Our experience might not be typical
Perhaps our online grocery shopping experience was unique and many of our readers have found this option to be a real blessing. Will we use the online option again in the future? Maybe. Online grocery shopping is relatively new, and in the future, it may become the new normal. But for now, I believe we’ll continue to shop for groceries in person and just try to do it as safely as possible.
Peggy Dent is an author, writer, and full-time RVer, traveling around the US and Canada. She’s traveled more than 130,000 miles in a motorhome, over the past 20 years, and is currently writing for the RV industry. You can contact her through her website at www.APenInYourHand.com
Landon Cox says
We normally buy most of our grocery and household items at a Walmart Supercenter nearby. My wife went online the other night to place an order for the items that had accumulated on our list over 2-3 weeks. It took her about an hour and a half to input her request and we picked up (almost) everything the next day. She was able to print out a copy of her order and when the order was delivered to our car (in the rain) by a Walmart employee, she told us what items they had been unable to fill.
Peggy Dent says
Sounds like Walmart has worked out most of the kinks. It’s good to know.
Mike Mountain says
We’ve had very good luck with online shopping at Fry’s in Yuma.
Ken Alvin says
Wow people please stop with this covid-19 coronavirus-BS ITS-OVER IT WAS-NEVER ANYTHING-BUT ——-BS—–
Live life don’t be scared
Judy Bowen says
I’ve been using Smiths in Nevada for the past year. They text me if something isn’t available or provide substitutes. If I order at night I can usually get it the following morning. If I order in the morning it will be a late afternoon pickup and if I order in the afternoon it’s a later evening pickup. The veggies and fruits are always super fresh. With time, my ordering is now down to 15-20 minutes with a reorder list option making is even easier. Have tried Walmart and is comparable.
Fredrick A says
WE have had poor luck at a local Kroger in the last 5 weeks..many items missing and ‘not substituted’, etc.. Got tired of it and went into the store last time..all the stuff listed as ‘Not available’ was available IN the store. So much for curb service BS
Tom Penn says
I put one item in the cart and then get to the pickup time screen. I select a time at least a few days out. Once I find a good time i modify the order. We’re not on the road now so I pick a time a week away and add to the cart almost every day. Works for us.
Jerry Salzer says
We are staying home in Central NJ. Both in our 80’s and don’t want to get the bug. Tried to order delivery, Hours making the list before finding out there were no dates available. Re did the long list and tried for Pick Up. No availabilities. A neighbor called and said they were going to the supermarket. God Bless good neighbors!
I can’t speak to anything but Walmart, and our S&B location. I’ve been doing pickup orders from Walmart for at least 6 months, but haven’t tried delivery.
With Walmart you can reserve a time slot before shopping, then you have a limited time to finish your order (1 or 1 ½ hour?) or you’ll lose it.
Before COVID 19, I could sometimes but rarely get it same day. Usually it was next day. I tried during the 1st week of the Stay in Place and there were none available for 7 days! I tried delivery, the same. We had most of what we needed, so I’ve gone out a few times and made some quick runs to get a few items. Miraculously I’m still alive! BTW, I was curious and checked, and it’s still at 7 days. I live in a small town in NE Ohio, population of less than 25K. There’s other Walmart’s within 10 miles.
You all be careful out there. Looking at the statistics, you’re more likely to die in a traffic accident then by COVID 19.
Harry Palmer says
My wife and I started using the WalMart shopping service a couple of weeks ago so neither of us will be exposed to any more hazards than normal. Like many, we are in the high risk category. To summarize our experience, we’ve learned to prepare our list three to four days earl, to check their “available” check-out times, and then place our order sometime in the very early hours (0100 on Tuesday) for a Thursday 11:00 pickup. Most of the time part of the order won’t be filled because it is “unavailable” at the time of pickup. (I think this is because they rely on store shelf inventory so they won’t know until the storeperson actually starts to fill the box for us what they still have in stock.) Lately beef, chicken, and TP are not available. We get by but it’s because we already have a decent stock of supplies since my wife insists we never want to run low or, worse, run out of some things. Overall, a mixed blessing for buying stuff.
Barbara Jean says
I have been using A Walmart Neighborhood store for home delivery.
The “day” starts at midnight, this is when to go online and reserve your delivery slot. At that time, choose your items and pay for them with a card. It is mandatory to have your grocery list already made up before you try to reserve a delivery slot or it will just disappear. The key to the entire thing is speed and accuracy. Many items will be out of stock, so make sure you have a backup item in mind. There is a minimum price you have to order, and a charge, and the driver will expect a tip. The tipping arrangement is in the app. Good luck, stay safe.
I know this all to well…I did this at the Dillons and was wanting pickup but by the time I got ready to check out there was no times available for the next four days and then it was in the evening.. that didn’t work for me so I scrapped the idea…safe travels
Nathan Gilpin says
Local store is Weis Markets. I made a list of 75 items on line and checked out using credit card. I called the store to get info before I checked out. Very nice young lady said they have special parking spots for pickup. A sign post has a phone number on it to call and let them know you’re there. The pickup time was stated on the checkout page. She said they would place the order in my vehicle and I’m to stay in the car. A gratuity is acceptable. place it on the seat with a note. If something is not available they will let me know.
Stephen P McKeon says
H-E-B curbside is working great for us in the San Antonio Texas area. Have to put the order in 4 days before pickup but this just amounts to planning ahead. Like the others, some things might not be delivered since they shop off the shelves on the isle the same as I would but as time goes on they have been getting better and better at having what I request. Even getting TP and napkins…
I believe the grocery runners are Wal mart employees with whatever pay/benefits Wal mart offers their employees. Would you tip the cashier? The employee who helps you find an item? This tipping thing is getting out of hand. If the grocery runners are not regular employees it is a way for Wal mart to pass on the cost of doing business to the customers.
We have used the pickup option at our Krogers twice now as we don’t want to go into the store. I learned to start a list online early (after the first setup visit it goes quickly) and click on the checkout button. The first date available is usually about 3 days out so I just plan ahead. I can add items to the list up to 24 hours before the pickup. We stay in the car and pop the hatch so don’t have to be near anyone.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that I can’t really plan on making a particular recipe as I never know what I’ll get. We just figure out what we’re going to have based on what we get. No chicken this week and got pie crust dough instead of pizza dough (???) and English muffins instead of bagels. We’ve learned to not be particular as it is worth it to not have to go into the store.
Landon Cox says
It might be smart to save your detailed list to your computer’s desk top so, if the first supermarket can’t give you a pickup time slot, you might be able to attach that saved list to another store’s online shopping site.
Just a thought.
Paul Johnson says
If you order for pickup at a Kroger store, you can keep adding things to your order up until midnight before your pickup day. Just get a pickup time reserved by entering a small order and do the rest at a relaxed pace at another time.
Pat Jennette says
We’re self isolating in the northern Los Angeles area. We, too, are ordering groceries for delivery. We use Ralph’s. What we’ve learned is to place an order the day after we receive an order. Have everything in the queue, then reserve your day and time very early in the morning. We’ve been getting a “reservation” of five days later. When your order is picked, you have the option of having the person select an alternative brand, etc. if what you ordered isn’t available. Our credit card isn’t billed until the picker finalizes the order at the store. Hope these tips are helpful!
Placed my first delivery order on Friday from Publix grocery store. The service they use is Instacart. I picked my delivery date before starting to shop. I chose first available, which was ‘by Sunday evening’. Once I placed my order I was able to add or edit it until the shopper began to fill my order, which I was notified of early evening on Sunday. We chatted on the Instacart app, the shopper letting me know if an item was unavailable and allowing me to choose a replacement or cancel that item. He even sent me photos of some replacement items to make sure I approved. He messaged me again when he left the store and I could follow his trip to my door on a map. It worked very well, maybe beginner’s luck? But I’ll use it again.
FWIW, my 1st time grocery shopping and delivery to my house was yesterday. It was wonderful. The local BJ’s club online system advised me at every selection whether a substitute would be likely and gave me choices at that time. At checkout, it gave me many delivery times, including “Within 2 Hours,” which I selected. Curbside pickup was available, the usual $14.99 delivery charge was free by promo. A 5% tip was suggested, which I allowed. The moment I paid by credit card, I was notified that “Wanda” was shopping for me and I could see in real time what was in my shopping basket. I was given opportunities to approve in real time substitutes of which I had been previously forewarned. I could see when Wanda started and completed checkout, and when she would arrive. I had my order complete in less than 2 hours. What’s not to like? BJ’s is a big-box store that works for me and my RV, but it might not be best for every RVer.
Dianne Hendrickson says
We’ve had to learn how to shop in The Seattle area the hard way. We’ve tried two different options, INSTACART and Safeway. Neither deliver to our location, so we use Safeway for curbside pickup or INSTACART for delivery to son’s front porch. If you shop Safeway using INSTACART, they inflate their prices. Safeway never has reasonable time slots available. Safeway even canceled an order the day before pickup was scheduled after we’d order a week ahead. Safeway no longer allows you to select a date until you’ve completed your order and paid for it. You cannot add items afterwards. So far, we’ve been very satisfied with INSTACART. INSTACART has deliveries usually the same day and you can shop multiple stores (Fred Meyer, Costco, Sprouts, etc.) at once and add to your order until the night before with reasonable prices everywhere except Safeway. We’re very dissatisfied with Safeway.
This is fine for packaged items, but if you want fresh veggies or meat, you need to be there to check it out. We have also found that you end up with milk almost expired, melted ice cream and other frozen foods. We have had them deliver to the wrong door(even when we specified side door) and get notified 45min after delivery.
Ordering a product you really like, and always getting a “not in stock” message, then you go to the store and the product is right there on the shelves – and has been all along.
We have been isolating up in North Georgia and using Walmart exclusively for curbside groceries. We normally get at least 90% of what is in the order and frequently 100%. If you let them they will substitute with no extra charge. You get an email a few hours before your pickup time telling you what was substituted and what was not available. It is very easy to tell them which substitutes are not acceptable. I’ve only ever had one unacceptable substitute. The pickers seem to be very competent for the most part. They have alway shown up with in minutes of my arriving at the site. The app lets you check in say where you are parked and what you car color is.
We have also used instacart for Costco items that cannot be shipped. Very pleased with this service but there are fees and you really should generously tip the driver so that adds cost. With insta cart you can ask for things that are not listed on the web site but you know should be available. For example Costco did not list Kirkland Decaf coffee but you can fill out on the comment field to look for it.