12 Tips to Maximize Your Online Grocery Delivery

woman unpacking groceries

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Online grocery delivery can be a convenient and safe way to get your shopping done. There are increasingly more options for grocery delivery services from your local chain to national big box stores and online retailers. With a few tips and tricks, you can make the most out of your online grocery delivery experience and avoid potential drawbacks.

Create a Budget

One of the perks of ordering online is the ability to keep a running tab on your spending. As you add or subtract things to your cart, you can take note of how much you will be spending. This will help you stick to your grocery budget, should you have one. Don’t forget to factor things in like a tip, delivery fees, and any potential taxes.

Plan Ahead

It’s easy to end up spending a lot of time browsing online grocery catalogs. This can negate any time-saving benefits that you’d hope for when shopping online. It’s wise to plan your list ahead so that you know exactly what to search for and add to your online cart.

Even better—make a meal plan and design a list based on the meals you plan to eat. You’ll save even more time and money if you keep your deliveries to once per week with a flexible meal plan. Base your meals on what sounds good, what you will be excited to eat, and what honors your personal health goals. Bear in mind that being overly rigid with meal planning can lead to lack of interest in what you’ve prepared. 

Don’t forget to include all meals and snacks, as well as any household goods that you may be running low on.

If you enjoyed your meal, stretch your grocery budget by planning meals for your leftovers as well. Planning meals for leftovers helps reduce waste and saves time.

Keep a Running List

While planning, keep a running list of what you will need in the coming days or weeks. If you are running low on staples that you don’t buy regularly but like to have on hand, such as condiments or baking ingredients, add them to your list to order before you run out. This will ensure that even if the item ends up out of stock or accidentally left out of your order, you won’t be left entirely empty-handed. 

Maintaining a running list of goods you’ll need will make the ordering process that much faster because you’ve done all the thinking and planning ahead of time. Some apps and shopping platforms allow you to add items and save them to your cart for when you’re ready to purchase. This could be another handy option that makes the ordering process faster. 

Create Recurring Orders

Some online grocery delivery services offer recurring orders, so you never run out of your favorite items. If you find a snack that you always want to have on hand, for instance, it might be worth it to set that order on auto-pilot. 

You can often save more if you have multiple recurring order items. Just be sure that you actually use them and don’t end up with a stockpile of foods that expire.

You can typically add household and personal care items to the recurring order as well to increase your chances of more significant discounts.

Inspect Your Order

As soon as you get your order home, it is a good practice to check all items for damage or see if anything is missing. Most stores will offer refunds and discounts for anything that is not up to standards or was not included in the delivery. However, there may be a time limit to submitting complaints, so it is best to check everything as soon as you receive the order.

Look for Coupons

Although coupons are usually used in-store, there are often ways you can scan or enter coupons for online deliveries too. Checking for coupons and sales is a great way to help you stretch your grocery budget.

It’s a good idea to check for coupons and sales before creating your list or meal plan since you can save big bucks by incorporating some of those discounts into your plan.

Buy In Season

When you buy in season, you’re more likely to get the best quality produce. Additionally, stores will often provide the best prices or discounts for fresh, in-season foods. Plan healthy meals and snacks around these foods to ensure you get a wide variety of nutrients and take advantage of nature’s bounty at its best.

Check your online store for local fresh produce. You'll often get the best quality and will be supporting local farmers.

Buy in Bulk

When excellent offers and sales come up, it could be worth it for you to buy in bulk. For items such as meat, plan to freeze whatever you won’t use within a couple of days. Keep a running list of what you have frozen so you don’t forget or re-buy the same items again before using them. 

For non-perishable items that you often use, buying in bulk at the right time can save you money and may help space out the frequency of your grocery orders.

Check for Price Matching

Some online grocery delivery stores offer price matching. When the same item is cheaper at a competing store, they might match that price so that you will shop from them instead. Check for stores that offer this perk so you can take advantage of multiple sales in one place while only paying for one delivery service.

Choose Delivery Times Wisely

When you decide to receive your delivery can influence the quality and ease of your experience. For instance, finding out when the store gets fresh deliveries can help you get the best quality foods. 

The same goes for items that tend to sell out quickly. Ordering for delivery early in the morning may make it more likely for you to get everything on your list.

Use the Notes Section

Use the notes section on the grocery delivery platform, if there is one, to tell the packers any specific requirements you have. For instance, whether you would like a particular substitute if the product you requested is out of stock, such as golden delicious apples if your favorite gala is sold out. Don't forget to indicate any allergies you or your family have as well.

If you are planning ahead, you may wish to use the notes section to indicate how ripe you would like your produce. Examples include avocados and bananas. If you need avocados for the end of the week, indicate that you do not want ready-to-eat, ripe avocados (which have a shorter shelf life). If you need bananas to be ripe in a few days, indicate for the packer to pick the greenest ones they can find.

Consider a Membership

You may be able to save on delivery service fees and gain discounts if you sign up for a membership. These memberships can carry a fee but might save you money in the long run if you always shop from the same provider. Some memberships offer additional perks and discounts that provide an added incentive to join.

A Word From Verywell

Being strategic about your online grocery delivery can help you eat healthier and save money. The key is in the details—planning ahead and sticking to it. Online shopping can reduce the chances of impulse buys as well.

Creating a running list and recurring orders can keep you well-stocked with healthy options to stock your fridge and pantry. One last piece of advice—be courteous and kind to your delivery service workers, and don’t forget to tip!

By Rachel MacPherson, BA, CPT
Rachel MacPherson is a health writer, certified personal trainer, and exercise nutrition coach based in Montreal.