With twins in the family you’re always on the lookout for life hacks that will save you just a little bit of time, energy, and maybe if you’re lucky– some sanity. Those are all things that the grocery on demand service, Instacart, has provided us at This Polk Home. It was probably a year that we passed the sign in our local Target and Whole Foods before my wife actually had the brilliant idea to give this service a try. After using the service multiple times over the past couple of months here is our family’s review of Instacart. We hope it brings time, energy, and sanity back to your crazy life as well.
What is Instacart?
Can you picture it now? An afternoon in the backyard on a sunny day, kids playing in the sprinkler and you lounging on the outdoor sectional with a cocktail– grocery shopping. Yes, grocery shopping. Now, that’s not exactly how our first run with this service started, but hypothetically it could have. But before I get to ahead of myself, you may be wondering, “What exactly is Instacart?”
Instacart, like Amazon Prime Fresh, or Google Express, is an on-demand grocery shopping service that delivers your groceries in as little as one hour after placing your order. It is all done through the company’s app or website and is extremely user-friendly. With Instacart, simply download the app, create an account by linking your facebook, select your location, pick from available stores, and start adding items to your cart. Once you place an order a shopper is assigned who then completes your list and delivers it to your door. It really is as easy as that. For your convenience we’re including screen grabs from the various pages of the app for your convenience.
Once you’re logged into the app you will be able to click on your profile to bring up the screen you see below. This dashboard allows you to change your account settings, view your orders, refer friends, and sign up for their premium service.
How to Get Groceries with Instacart
So how do you actually go about getting your groceries with this thing? Well, simply select from the stores available in your location. We have several available in our area and have tried a few of them. In our opinion the service depends little on the store you select and greatly on the shopper that is sent. We love the fact that some of our favorite stores are available for selection- Target, Cub, Whole Foods, and of course, Total Wine!
Once you’ve selected your store begin selecting items. We’ve found that it still is easiest to have a list so that you can quickly search, pick, and add your items without getting distracted by all the other tempting treats. The Instacart app actually has a “Lists” feature included so that you can keep your list ready to go.
What if they don’t have what I want?
Occasionally you will select an item that the store, for whatever reason, doesn’t have in stock any longer. When this happens your instacart shopper will send a notification that arrives via text indicating that he or she was not able to find your item but have replaced it with the closest comparison they could find. It’s a pretty seamless operation and we’ve always been happy with the “comparable” product that is selected.
Is Instacart More Expensive Than In-Store Prices?
One of the first questions that Jaimee and I had was if Instacart or the grocery chains made more money through Instacart by jacking up their prices. One cool feature of Instacart unlike other grocery on demand services is that Instacart will tell you when prices are more expensive. We appreciated the transparency and noticed that in most cases the prices were the same anyways.
Besides that using coupons is so much easier on Instacart. Simply go to their coupons section and select products that you know are on sale. No fumbling around with additional apps, paper, or membership cards. Just buy from their already curated selection.
One of the biggest positives for us has actually been the ease with which Instacart allows you to stay on budget!
If you’re like our family budgeting is important and the food budget is probably one of your most expensive categories. For years Jaimee has done a wonderful job keeping us within the budget, but sometimes it’s just difficult to remember all the prices in your head. Add to the mix a couple kids trying to throw their own things in the cart and sometimes you just go over.
With Instacart you’re able to watch your total and adjust accordingly. So, if you have a weekly budget of $150, you can rest assured you will be able to stick to that budget. We can’t tell you how much money this has saved us. Even $5-10 a trip adds up over 52 weeks!
How Long Does Instacart Grocery Delivery Take?
A normal trip to the grocery store with our twins could take two hours once you consider loading and unloading the car. With Instacart we can have our groceries in as little as one hour but usually within two. As you can see below, sometimes delivery can take a few hours if you are placing your order on the same day and it’s during a busy time (like the morning).
Does Instacart Have Hidden Fees?
We’ve already discussed whether instacart inflates the prices of the actual items (and said “No” in most cases) but how about other hidden fees? Again, we think Instacart is very transparent. There are three parts to your receipt: the actual items purchased, the delivery fee, and the “service fee.”
Delivery Fee With Instacart
If you order over $35 with Instacart your delivery fee is a flat $5.99 per order. Compared to other services this was a little high, but we didn’t want to commit to the yearly membership that waives this fee without trying it several times.
The first time we tried Instacart the service fee kind of through me off a little. What exactly was it? Well, rather than defaulting to a tip, Instacart charges a service fee which is pooled and then dispersed to their employees to give competitive wages across their company. I’m not in love with that because I love the idea of tipping for individual service, but we’re still learning so if you have any thoughts on the benefits of the service fee model over tipping let us know below in the comments. We’d love to hear your take.
Do We Recommend Instacart?
In a word: WHOLEHEARTEDLY.
In many words: Yes we do; thanks for asking! If you are shopping for yourself or maybe just two people Instacart might not be the best option, but again, with an entire family to buy for it makes sense for us. I would highly recommend giving their service a spin and see if it works for your family. Because we wholeheartedly recommend their service to friends and family we want to include our promo code below. Get three orders delivered for free when you use our promo code: DMORSE1F018A
Disclosure: When you use our promo code above we will also receive 3 free grocery deliveries. We are not compensated in any other way and this promotion is available to everyone who uses Instacart. We value the trust of our readers and only recommend services that we have tried and believe can be of benefit to you.