Grocery delivery is not a new concept. Back in the day, many of our parents and grandparents had accounts at local stores and received most of their grocery shopping via delivery. At the time, it had a lot to do with women either not driving or not having access to cars and being in charge of stocking the home. It was a convenience that independent grocers offered to their clients that was very welcome. You could either call in your order or do your own shopping and then leave the bags to be delivered later.

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These days, few stores offer these options independently. Instead, grocery-delivery services, where clients can shop online and choose a time to receive delivery, have become a smart way for people to do their shopping. For people without cars, not having to walk home burdened with bags, or schlep groceries on public transportation, the service is a godsend. For the elderly or people living with disabilities, it can mean a certain amount of independence, not having to wait for a caretaker to either take them to the store or go on their behalf. Busy moms can quickly place an order while waiting in the pick-up line at school and have more quality time with their family. Busy working folks no longer have to battle the crowds after work or give up precious weekend hours to get food in the house.

All of these are great, but none apply to me. I have no kids. I have an old but still functioning car, and I work for myself from home, so groceries can happen whenever I want, and rarely have to occur during busy hours.

And yet? Grocery delivery has literally changed the way I shop, cook, and live. That is not hyperbole.

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For starters, since being diagnosed Type 2 diabetic five years ago, I have needed to make a change in the way I eat. This has not stopped me from being just as susceptible as the next person to impulse buying stuff that isn’t good for me when perusing the aisles. Oreo has a new flavor? I should really try that. The Lay’s people have some funky new chip flavor I just have to taste to believe? In the cart you go.

Anyone who has ever unpacked a heavy grocery bag at home and come up with seven kinds of cheese, a tub of Kozy Shack pudding, olives, two flavors of hummus, three bags of snack chips, and nothing remotely resembling an ingredient to cook with can feel my pain. For me, eliminating the need to go to the store for staples has also eliminated the dreaded temptations to sample my way through the store and buy items that I really shouldn’t be eating.

It has also freed me up to shop smarter. I’ve long envied the shopping habits of Europeans, who tend to shop either daily or every other day for just what they need in the moment, taking advantage of market streets where specialty stores are lined up next to one another. By using a grocery-delivery service for my staples, my paper goods, and cleaning supplies, I became free to build relationships with local independent stores. I have a couple of butchers I count on for my meats, a produce market for cold months, and my local farmers’ market in the warm ones.

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The service I use charges an annual fee, and as long as I meet the minimum order, there is no extra delivery charge. Groceries arrive sometimes within an hour, most often within two, but I can also set a shopping delivery for up to a week in advance and add things to the list all week long. With no pre-delivery fees, I can get deliveries multiple times a week, so I no longer feel the need to hoard multiples of things in the pantry or freezer the way I used to when doing one big shopping per week. The instances of throwing away either expired pantry goods or rotting fruit and veg from the fridge have been nearly eliminated, which makes me feel better about waste of both product and money. The service I belong to delivers from big box membership stores as well, so I no longer have to pay for those annual fees, as well as a pet store, CVS pharmacy, a liquor store, and six different grocery stores.

From a lifestyle perspective, beyond just getting general time back, it has been a godsend for entertaining. Whether it is the need for that last-minute bag of ice and case of beer for a party, or the three ingredients I could have sworn I bought but now can’t find, I no longer have to run out or send my husband to the store for last minute party items. Even my work is easier. When I get an assignment that involves writing a recipe, I can place the order for the ingredients and continue working on the writing part while someone else does the shopping. Usually by the time I’ve finished the article, the groceries have arrived, and I can work on the recipe part seamlessly, making me much more productive.

I have calculated that the fees and tips I pay over the course of the year are still far less than what I would have spent on big-box store fees, impulse buys, and wasted and spoiled food.

Whether you are someone who just wants to periodically avoid prime-time shopping or running out in bad weather, or someone who wants to use a service for most of their shopping, I have to say that it is one thing that has really changed my life for the better.

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