I’ve always been really into grocery shopping. It’s not just because I love food (even though I totally do), it’s more that I love the process of meal planning. I adore writing out shopping lists, and then carefully browsing at the store to secure those items. I love picking the perfect fresh produce, choosing just the right cheese and bread, and discovering unexpected sales and discounts that hadn’t been in the circular.
Of course, two years ago that all changed. While grocery stores remained open during the height of COVID, they simply weren’t an option for higher-risk members of the population like me. So, I learned to embrace the world of grocery delivery apps. I never looked back, and while there’s been something of a steep learning curve, I’ve learned a lot along the way.
“Food delivery apps have become such a convenience for the everyday shopper since you can order what they want with just a few steps–and without ever leaving the house! Depending on your needs, there are several apps out there that can cater to you,” says shopping expert Kristin McGrath from RetailMeNot.
New member discounts
Grocery apps are like meal delivery apps in that they will often try to draw a new member in with some sort of sweet deal for first time orders. “Some apps or services will provide a one-time new member discount upon purchase, which is a great way to decide whether or not you’d like to continue using your membership,” says McGrath. Take advantage of their offers! Whether this is free delivery or a discount off your first order, it’s a way of saving big. Of course, it also can be a rude awakening when those initial discounts expire and you see what things really cost.
During the pandemic, a lot of people who had never done grocery delivery before decided to give it a try. That gave me the opportunity to refer friends. When you do this, usually both parties get credits. “Some apps let you rack up points depending on how many new users you refer to the platform, which can then be exchanged for discounts,” says McGrath.
Recently, I was chatting with a dear friend. She mentioned she had used Instacart’s delivery app (one of the ones I use) twice in one day for two different stores, and was charged a delivery fee twice. I let her know that I’d learned to avoid all delivery charges — I paid the one-time fee to have a year’s membership, which includes free delivery on all orders. This might not make sense for you if you’re only ordering once or twice, but if you think you’ll use it several times a year, do the math and see if you stand to save with a membership. “You’ll pay a flat fee that will eliminate delivery costs and other fees which will ultimately be worth the investment,” says McGrath. During the pandemic, I was ordering groceries weekly not only for myself but for my parents (it was part of how I made sure they stayed put and behaved themselves!) and we saved way more on those fees than the membership cost, by a mile.
Opt into communications
Check your favorite apps regularly, or opt-in for push notifications, emails, and texts. This is a great way of being in the know about certain flash deals. “Food delivery apps frequently entice their users, especially those who haven’t ordered in a while, with special offers and promo codes for free delivery and discounts,” says McGrath. If you use multiple apps, you can be pretty sure that you’ll nearly always have a discount or code to use on your next order. For example, I subscribe to Thrive Market, and I get text alerts with pretty epic deals that are sometimes only a day or two in length. (A recent one was 25% off my whole order!)
Inflation is being felt everywhere, but perhaps nowhere is it more pronounced than in the grocery store. (We have a complete rundown on how you can fight inflation when shopping here.) “You should think about switching to generics when you can; shop in bulk; change up the cuts of meat,” personal finance expert Neale Godfrey. The same protein is in chicken legs as in chicken breasts. This is just shopping smarter and saving where you can, grocery app or grocery store. In the end, it can save you a bundle.
More from HerMoney:
- How to Order Takeout + Delivery Smarter
- Inflation And The New Way To Buy Groceries To Save Money In 2022
- How to Cut Out Food Waste and Save Money in the Process
Looking for more financial insights delivered right to your inbox? Subscribe to HerMoney today!