While I first heard about Instacart over a year ago, it took me a really long time to try it out. Since I’m someone who DIY’s everything to save a buck, I have always done all the grocery shopping myself. And, even though getting groceries delivered to my doorstep sounded convenient, I didn’t want to fork over extra cash for overpriced groceries, delivery fees, or tips.
But, you know what? Recently, all of that changed.
I clearly remember tapping at my keyboard, hard at work while the lady who cleans my house was dusting my bedroom. Since we chat sometimes while we both work, she was telling me how she “hates the grocery store” and uses a grocery delivery service instead of going herself.
It’s like a light bulb clicked on. If my cleaning lady used a grocery delivery service to save time, shouldn’t I?
I mean, my hourly rate as a blogger and freelance writer is pretty high. If I could save just an hour of time, I could totally justify the cost. Plus, I was just tired of going to the store. When you really think about it, shopping at the grocery store is a total pain anyway, right?!?
First, you have to drive there. Then you have to walk through every single aisle to find the things you want. You put them all in your cart, but you’re not done yet because you still have to go wait in line to pay. Once you get to the front of the line, you have to unload your cart. Then, you load it all back in your cart! After that, you take it all out to your car and load all your food into your trunk. But, you’re not done yet! Once you get home, you have to bring everything you bought inside and put it all away.
To be honest, I’m tired just thinking about it!
So yeah, I tried Instacart….and I am basically hooked now. This Instacart review includes a rundown of my general thoughts on the service and why I continue using it.
The Benefits of Using Instacart
The benefits of using the Instacart app (or any other grocery delivery service) cannot be overstated. No matter who you are, it is so easy to sit at your computer, create a grocery list online, and have a person show up at your door with all your food.
I love it!
In fact, I never realized how much I hated the grocery store until I started using Instacart. It felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders!
It is so nice to avoid the store when it’s snowing or icy outside, or when you’re busy and realize you’ve run out of time, or even on those days when you just don’t feel like going. For me, that is basically all the time.
Other benefits of using Instacart include:
- No impulse purchases – Since you have to create a shopping list online, there’s a much smaller chance you’ll wind up throwing cookies or other junk food in your cart. When I use Instacart, I only buy what I need and what makes sense with that week’s meal plan.
- It’s easy to check inventory – Ordering groceries online makes it easier to check if you have an item already before you buy. You’ll no longer buy duplicate items because you can’t remember what you have on hand.
- Time – Other than the fact that Instacart brings groceries to your door, it also helps you save time. I used to rush and rush to run to the store and back in time to make dinner. Or, I would cut my work day short to make time to head to Kroger or Meijer. Having an extra hour every week has been amazing, and I no longer have to dread my weekly grocery trip.
- Grocery delivery makes travel a breeze – The fact that we travel around 12 weeks per year makes groceries a tricky responsibility to deal with. In the past, whenever we got back from a long trip and had no food in the house, I was always scrambling to find time to go the store while also dealing with laundry and catching up on household chores. Instacart has eliminated all the hassle because I can order groceries on the way home from the airport and have them delivered that afternoon.
- Great for those with limited mobility – If you’re somebody who is older or who has limited mobility, grocery delivery can be a game changer. Instead of struggling to get to (and through) the store, simply hop on the app and have somebody bring your groceries to you.
Once I started using the service, I knew I might never go to the grocery store on the regular again. I’d tried other meal services like Blue Apron before, but – frankly – the food wasn’t that good and the value wasn’t there. But, Instacart is different.
With this program, I can still make food that tastes great using the items I typically cook. Instacart makes it way too convenient to let someone else use their time and effort to get food from the store to my house. And now that I know all the benefits of grocery delivery, I rarely go to the store at all anymore.
So far, the difference this has made in my life has been nothing short of amazing! I can’t express how magical it has been to realize we’re running low on food and not instantly panic because I don’t have time to go to the store.
I have also gained an extra 1-2 hours of my life back each week, which is a huge deal for a busy mom like me. I would much rather spend time with my kids or work a little longer than schlep to the store to buy things I can easily order online.
The Downsides of Instacart
While there are almost too many benefits to mention, the biggest drawback of Instacart is that it isn’t free! There are several different ways the app makes money, and the value you get when you use the service fluctuates based on several factors.
Fees charged by Instacart include:
- Higher grocery prices – While some food items cost the same as in the store, prices for some foods are pretty inflated.
- Service fee – Instacart automatically charges a 10 percent service fee that just goes back to Instacart. This is not a tip, so remember that! Fortunately, you can change the service fee to 0 percent before you pay. (I’ll explain more about this in a minute.)
- Delivery fee – The delivery fee for Instacart is usually $5.99, but it can go higher for smaller orders or during busy times.
- Tips – I tip Instacart drivers 15 percent because I want to make sure they are making real money for their time and effort.
Here’s a screen shot of one of my orders from Instacart:
As you can see, I bought $151.41 in groceries, paid a $5.99 delivery fee, and tipped $22.71 for a total order of $181.72. That’s a lot really, but it would have been higher if I hadn’t changed the “service fee” to 0%. If Instacart ever makes it so you can’t change the service fee to zero, I will probably stop using the service. You can’t charge a delivery fee and a service fee and still ask for people to tip. That’s insane.
Also, remember that some of the food prices in my order were inflated. I kept one of my recent Meijer receipts to compare prices on some of the foods we buy. Here are a few with the biggest difference in price:
SO Delicious Coconut Yogurt:
- $2.29 through Instacart
- $1.69 at the store
Four-pack Kraft Mac-n-Cheese Pack:
- $4.59 through Instacart
- $3.59 at the store
- $2.29 each through Instacart
- usually $1 – $1.50 at the store
Basically, most things cost the same as at the store or more. After using Instacart for several months now, I can estimate I usually spend an extra $10 – $20 per week on groceries plus the delivery fee and tip.
To be honest, the added costs of using Instacart are one of the big reasons I hesitated to use grocery delivery in the first place. Even after I started, there was part of me that really hated paying extra for food when we really didn’t have to. Over the years, I have worked so hard to reduce our grocery spending down to reasonable levels.
But, you know what? I finally decided that Instacart was totally worth it to me.
Since my hourly rate for work is so high, I can easily justify paying the added costs because Instacart allows me to work longer on grocery days. Not only that, but using the app has given me a lot of peace of mind. I no longer stress over the store or over whether we have food or not, and that means a lot to me.
In addition to costs, there is one final downside to consider – the fact you give up control.
Since we’re vegetarian and use a lot of produce, this is one thing I’ve really wrestled with. I really hated the idea of not being able to pick my own produce at first, although I have learned to make my peace with it. To be honest, I’ve had a few occasions where someone picked up some produce I wasn’t thrilled with. However, I’ve never had a situation where the produce wouldn’t work – or where I felt compelled to complain.
Is Instacart Right For You?
At this point, you’re probably wondering whether you should try Instacart and whether I was paid for this review. I promise I was not compensated for my views on Instacart at all, and that this entire review is made up of my true opinions and thoughts on the service.
With that in mind, I am totally open to trying other grocery delivery services in the future provided I get in the mood to open an account and load up a cart. For the time being, it’s a little too easy to use Instacart since my account is all set up.
If you’re trying to decide whether Instacart or another service could work in your situation, it helps to think of the added costs and whether they may be worth it for you. With that in mind, here are some signs that Instacart could be exactly what you need – and some signs you should skip it.
Signs You Should Try Instacart
- You dread going to the grocery store. If you are sick and tired of going to the grocery store and looking for a way to visit a lot less often, then Instacart is definitely worth considering.
- You overspend at the store. If your trips to the grocery are painful because you can’t seem to control what you put in your cart, you should absolutely give grocery delivery a try. There are no impulse purchases when you’re shopping online, after all.
- You always have to take your kids to the store. If you’re someone who always has to take their kids to the store and it has become chaotic, using a grocery delivery can make your life easier.
- Your hourly rate is high. If you are a gig employee or a freelancer and using Instacart lets you work a little longer on grocery days, then using the service can absolutely pay off. This is especially true if your hourly rate is high and you earn a lot more than you’ll pay in delivery fees and tips.
Signs You Should Skip It
- You enjoy getting out of the house. If you actually like going to the grocery store, then using a delivery service probably won’t work for you.
- You can’t stand to pay more for groceries. If you don’t like the idea of paying for delivery or inflated prices no matter what, then this may not be for you.
- You want to pick everything out yourself. If the thought of someone else picking your bananas or limes freaks you out, then you probably need to go to the store yourself each week. That’s not to say that Instacart employees don’t do a good job. They do try to pick the freshest produce, but it’s still not the same as picking it out yourself.
The Bottom Line
If you’re someone who is tired of going to the grocery store for any reason, you should definitely consider giving a delivery service like Instacart a try. It costs more to have someone do the work for you, but whatever you pay may be worth it if it improves your life in a significant way.
Personally, I have found that I am much happier and a lot less stressed when I am not worrying about finding time for the grocery store each week. And I sure as heck don’t miss standing in line forever or dealing with the crowds and traffic. Sometimes paying for convenience is worth it, and this is one situation where it’s absolutely worth it to me.
Have you ever tried a grocery delivery service? Why or why not?