Have you tried on-line grocery shopping yet? If not, tune into our blog for the next three weeks as we look at what on-line grocery shopping is and the pros and cons of on-line grocery shopping. If you have, send us a comment over the next three weeks and let us know about your experiences. Today I am going to give you an overview of on-line grocery shopping as I have experienced it.
Who: Justine Hoover. I plan meals and buy food for a family of five including my husband, an eight year old son, a six year old daughter, a two year old son, and myself.
What: On-line grocery shopping. I plan my meals and make my grocery list as usual. Then I log in to my account on the store website, choose my groceries, pay, and set up a time to get my groceries.
When: Every other week. I actually go grocery shopping once per week, but I have been alternating on-line grocery shopping with going to the store to shop. I do this because I like to shop at different grocery stores and two of my favorite stores do not have on-line shopping. I also like to take my children shopping with me sometimes so they can learn how to grocery shop.
Where: Two stores. There are two grocery stores in the community where I live that offer on-line grocery shopping. Both stores have grocery pickup – I drive my van up to a designated parking space, notify the store that I have arrived (either by calling or through an app), and then they load my groceries into my van. One of the stores has grocery delivery – they bring the groceries directly to my home.
Why: Three reasons. I decided to start on-line grocery shopping for many reasons, but here are the top three.
- Convenience – it is so easy to order groceries from my home and either have them delivered to my door or loaded into my van.
- Cost control – I can stick to my grocery budget much more easily because the website tracks my costs as I add items to my cart, and shopping on-line cuts down on impulse buys.
- Children – I had three children home with me all day, every day this past summer. I usually enjoy taking them shopping with me, but we decided there were other things we wanted to do with our time this past summer.
So far, these have been my experiences with on-line grocery shopping. Overall, they have been very good and I am excited to share the details with you. Join me for the next two weeks as I look more deeply into the pros and cons of on-line grocery shopping for my family.
Making a List
Does it really take too much time to write out your grocery list? Hmm, I guess that depends on how far you are from the store when you have to go back to get something you forgot or how much extra you paid for something you didn’t need.
A grocery list can be just a list on the back of an envelope or it can be something you create special for just your family.
We have tips for making your master list plus several different versions to get you started on the SpendSmart.EatSmart planning tab including:
I am still in my organizing/cleaning frame of mind. I don’t mind when I have multiples of things I use all the time—like canned tomatoes, black beans, yogurt, margarine, fresh fruits and vegetables, etc., but when the pantry is full of partially used items or things I can’t remember how long I have had or why I bought them, it’s time to make a list and clean them out.
First, I make a list of everything I have too many of, partial packages, or specialty items that I have to make an effort to use. Then I make up menus using those items, crossing them off as I go. Sometimes I have to buy a few items to round out a meal or complete a recipe, so I also start a grocery list.
Last week it was my turn to host dinner club. (Once a month, eight friends and I eat together. When it is your turn, you plan, prepare, and clean up after the meal. Then for 8 months you have great meals for free!) I decided on a Tex-Mex theme to take advantage of what was in my cupboard. I was able to present a great meal while only buying 1 pound ground beef, 3 avocados, and a bag of carrots.
For the future, I am trying to write the month and year on items when I add them to my pantry. I remember my mom using a magic marker to write dates on the tops of cans and boxes. It was easy to see how long items had been on the shelf.
-pointers by Peggy
As I looked at my sister’s grocery receipts, I noticed she bought lots of fresh, canned, and frozen fruits and vegetables, which is great! There are not many prepackaged meals or convenience items—also a plus. The meat purchased was quite economical with the exception of chicken strips. They are generally not a smart buy in terms of nutrition and cost.
There were four places I think my sister’s family could consider making some changes:
- Reduce the number of boxes of Toaster Strudel™ purchased. Twelve boxes (72 strudels) during the month cost about $25. Toaster Strudels™ are 190 calories, 38% fat including Trans Fat and provide zero vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and only 4% iron. Check out ideas for substitutes that your family could try on our recipe page.
- Reduce the amount of Kudos® (5), snack crackers (9), cookies (2), Cheetos® (2), snack pudding and gelatin cups (2), and jars of peanuts (4). Cost for these items was around $85. Encouraging the family to eat fruits and vegetables as a snack would decrease calories and increase nutrition content. Consider making some homemade bakery items for snacks. Packaging these items in snack bags could help with portion control. Popcorn could substitute for crackers as a snack. If you pop your own, it is very economical.
- The 13 packages of crescent rolls purchased this month cost around $37. Consider substituting whole wheat, French, or Italian bread for crescent rolls. Slice the bread, spread with margarine, sprinkle with garlic powder, and toast.
- Review the amount and brand of cheese purchased. The amount spent for the month was $33. Most of the cheese purchased was a name brand, instead of a store brand. Cheese does provide good amounts of calcium, but it is high in calories, fat, and sodium.
-pointers from Peggy
Last fall my sister asked me how much I thought she should be spending on groceries (it turns out her husband thought she was spending too much).
That’s a really hard one to answer; and, I sure didn’t want to get in the middle of an argument. Spending on food varies because of many factors including values and resources (time, money and skills).
I recommended my sister get on the Internet and Google “Cost of Food at Home.” I told her to check out the USDA Food Plans and see how what she was spending compared. I also agreed to look at her grocery receipts to see if I could suggest ways to save (more on that in a later posting).
If you would like to get an estimate of USDA’s Low-cost Plan, we have an online calculator that will do the math for you. Check out figure your food dollar on our Spend Smart. Eat Smart. web page. You will need the age, gender and number of meals eaten away from home for each person.
– pointers by Peggy