Review: Instacart Grocery Delivery

Review: Instacart Grocery Delivery

Let’s face it: we are all looking for ways to get a few hours of time back in our days and weeks. On the heels of Daylight Savings Time, I think it’s particularly important to ask yourself, what’s a simple way to get that hour back?

Regardless of what we do and how we structure our schedules, there just never seems to be enough of it. And at the end of the day, time is the one equality we all share and cannot simply get more of based on economic status or who we know. OK so that might seem a little deep for what is about to be a review post, but the point is clear — finding easy ways to gift ourselves back a precious hour or two is worthwhile.

So in the interest of giving myself a few hours back, shortly after I moved to San Francisco I started exploring grocery delivery options. Fortunately in the city there are no shortage of them — several small startups and even Amazon and Google now deliver. When I first moved here, I didn’t have a car which made it a huge pain to grocery shop, even if the closest store was just a few blocks away. As I tend to buy enough for a week (for two of us), hauling everything home was impractical and super time consuming. After trying a few delivery options, I eventually landed on Instacart and instantly fell in love with the easy, reliable service. (Back in August 2013 when I first started using it, the service offered delivery from Trader Joe’s which was a huge plus as well.)

HOW IT WORKS:

First, find out if Instacart is available in your location by checking your zip code HERE. The service has rapidly expanded over the past year and I expect it will continue to, so stay tuned to see if it’s coming to your area soon (if it’s not already).

Through the app (available on both iPhone and Android) or the website, you create an account and link your credit card/payment option of choice. To initiate an order, simply click on the store of your choice. In my area, I have the option of Safeway, Whole Foods, Costco (no membership required), and smaller local stores including Bi-Rite, Rainbow Grocery and Falletti Foods. Instacart also has an “Instacart Plus” option which tends to be less expensive compared to the others, and likely pulls items from a variety of stores depending on what might be available in the warehouse (my guess — not entirely sure how this option works). I prefer to shop from Safeway or Whole Foods as I am a bit pickier about my selections but occasionally will use Costco too if I need to stock up on meats or paper products.

Instacart stores
Instacart home page

After selecting the store, now the fun part of shopping begins. There are a few ways to go about this — either using the search bar at the top of the page and selecting an item from the search results, using the “lists and recipes” feature which allows you to shop based on available recipes, or scrolling through “aisles” and shopping for produce, meats, etc. that way. Once you have used the service a few times, the home page will populate “favorite” items based on what has been frequently purchased, making it very easy and quick to add a number of your regular purchases to your cart.

Instacart favorites
Instacart recipes

Once you have everything you need in your cart, the checkout process begins. During this phase, you are able to select replacements in case items are out of stock. HINT: Be sure to note that at the top of this page, you can either opt in or out to the call feature, where your shopper will call to walk you through every replacement product if you choose. I prefer not to do this because I find it disruptive, but it’s great to have the option to talk to your shopper if you have any questions. The final stage allows you to pick a delivery window, add a tip, and complete the order. Typically, same day delivery is available — I’ve actually never had any issues with this — and usually costs $3.99. Instacart also has an annual membership option if you plan to use it regularly, which runs around $99 for unlimited deliveries.

Instacart delivery

RATING:

Convenient, affordable and easy-to-use, I rate Instacart 5 out of 5 stars. It gives me a couple of hours back in my week to devote to other (fun!) activities, and has made it a lot easier to stay on top of meal prep and cooking routines. I rely on it fairly regularly (usually at least twice per month) and have always had a positive experience. The customer service team is very responsive and has addressed any questions or concerns I’ve had with helpful responses, account credits and even gifts. (I once received a bottle of red wine with my delivery because a few items were out of stock — brilliant!)

Check out the service through my referral code HERE and get $10 off your first order.