A couple of months ago, in what I would later describe to my husband as an “accident”, I let my 14-day free trial of Instacart roll into a year-long subscription. To quote Bob Ross, it turned out to be a “happy little accident” indeed.
In my case, however, my happy little accident cost me $99, but somehow, gave me what feels like my whole life back.
Here’s how having my groceries delivered managed to change my entire life—and why I’ll never be going back to grocery shopping in person again.
Aren’t Moms Supposed to Like Grocery Shopping?
As a mom, I’m supposed to relish in the solitude of grocery shopping, strolling through the cereal aisle, sniffing tomatoes, contemplating the merits of oat milk versus almond, free, for just a moment, from my offspring.
As a treat, I can grab a chocolate bar laced with salted caramel on my way out or an iced coffee as I hit the aisles. The stereotype that moms love any excuse to shop is why, when I let my husband know I am heading to the grocery store, he usually sends me on my way with a kiss and a cheerful, “Have fun.”
Except grocery shopping is not fun for me.
Instead, it’s a never-ending chore. You have to plan your meals, create your list, spend at least an hour at the grocery store, come home, put away your groceries, inevitably realize that you forgot things that will lead to return trips over the course of the next week and start the whole thing over in seven days.
In my mind, grocery shopping is a chore that I have to do because I’m a grown-up and the household chef. It’s part of my job.
But over the years, this part of my job has begun to increasingly consume my time. Perhaps it’s my kids getting older and eating more, maybe it’s because I moved two minutes away from a grocery store and the decrease in distance led to a decrease in efficiency, but whatever the reason, for the last couple of years, I felt like I lived in the grocery store.
In fact, I’m at the grocery store so often that last Tuesday evening, the cashier even asked me, “How many times have you been here today?”
The answer was three.
First, for the big shop of the week, then for the bread I forgot the first round, and then, for the ice cream I started craving after the kids were in bed.
“The cashier even asked me, 'How many times have you been here today?' The answer was three."
Getting Past the Expense
Despite my seemingly endless presence at the grocery store and my growing hatred for the chore, something in me just couldn’t bring myself to actually spend the $99 for Instacart, a grocery delivery service that uses a personal shopper to buy your groceries for you, then deliver it directly to your house.
Despite the fact that a $99 purchase is doable to me now as an adult, it still seems like a really big expense. I grew up poor and struggled through my twenties to reach my current state of financial security. I have a lot of leftover financial anxiety that leads me to second guess every purchase I make and forego anything that doesn’t feel absolutely necessary.
Starbucks? I’ve got a coffee machine at home. Paid parking? How about I park somewhere free and take a walk. Mani/Pedi? HA. As you can imagine, I saw the very idea of paying someone to grocery shop for me when I’m capable of doing it myself, as totally absurd.
Until, suddenly, it didn’t.
Who Knew You Could Download Groceries?
My attitude shifted the day I realized that we had people coming over to spend the weekend, but we were completely out of food, and I had only enough time before their arrival to clean my wreck of a house.
Realizing I couldn’t starve my houseguests and with my sister’s encouragement (she had been telling me forever to just give in and use it), I finally downloaded Instacart.
I figured it wouldn’t hurt anything, especially because Instacart offers a free trial. Who knew I would fall in love (besides my sister, of course)?
The thing about Instacart isn’t just that it saves you from loading and unloading the groceries from your car, or that it keeps you socially distanced from the sniffling masses, it’s that it streamlines the meal planning process, it gives you time to make sure you didn’t forget anything, and it saves you hours of your life.
When you really think about it, $99 is a steal.
“Instacart saves you hours of your life.”
Instacart Instantly Changed Everything
Instacart streamlined my meal planning by making most of the process happen right on my phone. I can select meals right off my Pinterest board, search for all the ingredients at my local grocery store and move to the next meal.
I’ve always sat down to put together a meal plan and a shopping list, but with Instacart, when I’m done with this weekly ritual, I’m also done grocery shopping, and I clipped some coupons while I was at it.
When my husband learned I’d “accidentally” paid $99 to get out of doing the grocery shopping his only request was that we tip—and he’s right, you need to tip your drivers. They just saved you hours of your life, as well as facing the creepy guy at the deli counter and the coughing bagger at checkout so that you didn’t have to.
So, I guess when you include tips, Instacart doesn’t just cost $99 dollars, but in my mind, the cost is forever balanced by the savings it provides. For instance, because they deliver, Instacart helps me save money by allowing me to shop at Aldi instead of just the fancy food boutique two minutes away from my house.
It also presents me with the coupons I never bothered to save from the newspaper, and even if it did neither of those things, it would still be worth every extra penny.
I know this because when I ran to the store a few nights ago for 9 o’clock cookies, the checker mentioned that she hadn’t seen me for a while and asked me where I’d been.
I just smiled, because I knew I was living life, anywhere but at the grocery store.
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