Scheduling Strategy: Use Online Grocery Shopping to Create More Time

What would you do if you had an extra hour each week? Go for a long run? Take a bath? Read a book? I know I can think of quite a few ways I like to spend a free hour, and NONE of them involve going to the grocery store. Unfortunately, acquiring food to feed our families is a necessary part of life (boo, adulting!). If this resonates with you and you haven’t yet attempted online grocery shopping… read on. Grocery pickup is a game changer.

Online Grocery Shopping Changed My Life

This may sound dramatic, but it’s true.

Up until recently, the hour or so that I spent at the grocery store each week was one of my least favorite mom-jobs (and that’s really saying something). Pushing a heavy cart through crowded aisles while trying to prevent little grabby hands from sneaking Oreos and sugar cereal from the shelves is purely and utterly exhausting. Not to mention the fact that I often would often forget whether or not I had butter in the fridge at home, and end up buying duplicates “just in case.” Then, when I thought the ordeal was almost over…CHECKOUT TIME!!! A true test of strength. “No, son. You don’t need Big League Chew.” “No, daughter. No Skittles today.” “No, Suzy… you don’t need another Real Simple magazine. ” But the lines, they are long. I would typically succumb as my willpower had diminished to the point of nonexistence by this point.

Fortunately, those days are in the past for me as I now order groceries online once a week. In doing so, I avoid this soul-sucking experience completely. And my life is noticeably better as a result.

An Easy System for Online Grocery Shopping

If you’re a grocery pick-up newbie, I’m going to make this easy on you. This is the system I’ve been using for almost two years now and I think it will work for you too.

1.) Start in your pajamas.

Yes, you heard that right. The best time to start your online grocery shopping is when you’re calm, comfortable and cozy. Building new habits can be hard…. but it’s easier when we make them pleasurable. Grab a cup of coffee, find a comfy spot, and let’s get started.

2.) Jot down a Meal Plan.

This doesn’t have to be an extensive list, just a quick plan for the week. This step might be hard for someone who doesn’t typically plan their meals, but if you do this you’re going to see residual benefits beyond grocery day.

I typically just jot down the letters M,T,W,T,F in a column and then write a simple meal description beside each one. I don’t plan for weekends because we inevitably get off track, and I’ll push any meals we miss over to the weekend.

3.) Make a List.

  • Scan the list you just made and jot down any ingredients you need to purchase for each meal on your “online shopping list.”
  • Next walk to the fridge, pantry, snack drawer and take a peek. Are you running low on any staples? Add those to your list as well.
  • Finally, add any other items you typically buy to your list (more on this in the next step).

*TIP: It helps make this process even easier if you keep a running list throughout the week of items you’ve run out of or that you want to buy. You can go low-tech by sticking a magnetic notepad to the side of the fridge and train your family to write the things they need there as well. Or you can step it up a notch and use technology to do this for you.

When I use the last of the paprika while I’m over cooking on the stove, I just holler, “Alexa! Add paprika to my shopping list!”

She dutifully files this information into a neat little checklist that I can easily access on my Alexa app each Sunday when I’m placing my grocery pickup order.You can also ask Siri to do this using your iPhone. Be warned, though. Your kids will probably use this tool to add things like Chips Ahoy cookies to your list. And Unicorn Poop. Use your best judgement on what will work in your household.

4.) Order groceries online.

Login to the store’s online grocery shopping site. I have always used King Soopers (known as Kroger or a variant in other parts of the country), but I know Wal-Mart and many other grocery chains offer similar services.

By now, you should have a list of everything you need right beside you. Begin typing items into the search bar on the site and adding them to your cart.

*Start at the top and work your way down.

Once you’ve used the service for awhile, the site will likely provide suggestions which will make this process go even more quickly.

King Soopers, for example, has options for “Start My Cart” (containing my weekly staples based on my purchase history), “My Sale Items”, and “Recent Purchases”. All I have to do is click my way through these galleries and push the + button to add items to my cart.

This means that I usually only have to spend a few minutes total to finish the entire ordering process.

Then I verify my pickup location, grocery pickup time, and payment information (you can store this if you want to save even more time on future purchase). Voila!

5.) Pickup the goods.

At some point during your designated pickup window (usually a one-hour time slot), you’ll pull up to a specially marked parking space at your grocery store.

Call the phone number written on the signpost, tell them your name and which spot you’re parked in, and they will be out within 5 minutes or so to bring you your groceries.

Ready To Give Grocery Pickup A Try?

If you’re new to this, that might seem a little overwhelming.

It SEEMS like a lot of steps now, but once you get the hang of it the time investment required to get started will pay you back over and over and over each week.

Just in case you aren’t convinced… here are a few more things you should know about online grocery shopping.

  • There is a fee, but I actually SAVE money- Currently, the fee for grocery pickup at my local store is $4.95. That may seem like a lot to add to your weekly grocery budget, and I know that it isn’t a negligible amount for a lot of people! I have actually noticed a sizable decline in my weekly grocery bill during the time I have used this service. Most likely, this is because a.) I am planning better and not buying items I don’t need and b.) I am avoiding impulse purchases while I’m actually shopping. If you’re anything like me, you will probably spend less too.
  • Price comparison is easy- I actually find it easier to compare similar products when shopping this way in order to choose the item with the most value. In this screenshot, I searched for “spaghetti” and you can see the search results. It is easy to glance at what is available, which items have digital coupons available, and which items are on sale.
  • Coupons are welcome- There are many digital coupons available. You can browse the options before you start shopping and eligible coupons also populate in the search results (see above). The stores should also ask whether you have paper coupons, and if you do they will happily apply them to your purchase.
  • This can be a great way to serve someone in your life who needs an extra hand. Maybe you know an elderly person or someone struggling with health issues. Could they order their groceries and have you pick them up/deliver them? This would also be a nice gift for new parents… I would have LOVED the gift of grocery pickup when I had my babies.

Well, there you have it… a quick guide to using online grocery shopping. If you haven’t tried it yet, I encourage you to give it a try for a month and see what you think. It doesn’t work for everyone, but if you are looking for ways to spend less time doing chores and more time doing something else you love… this is a great way to take an hour back for yourself each week.


About the author: Suzette is a Northern Colorado professional organizer providing organizing services to Loveland, Fort Collins, Greeley, Windsor, Timnath and surrounding areas. She subscribes wholeheartedly to the idea that smart systems and some up front organizing work make more time for busy women to enjoy doing what they love. She has been married for over 10 years and is a mother of 2 school age children.

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