This post may include affiliate links. We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.
Going to the grocery store with kids in tow is a test not only of your patience but your wallet, am I right?
I always spend more money on groceries than I planned to when my kids tag along. It’s almost impossible to save money grocery shopping when my son is throwing everything but the kitchen sink into the cart.
That’s no good if you’re living on one income and you have a tight food budget.
Not to mention, going into the grocery store is such a time suck. When you’re a busy mom, time is the one thing you can’t afford to waste.
And maybe you’re stuck at home and can’t get to the grocery store for some reason. (Thanks again, 2020, for being the worst year ever.)
Enter online grocery shopping.
I didn’t start grocery shopping online until a couple of months ago. But now, I am hooked.
If you’ve never bought groceries online before, let me tell you, you’re not living right.
Because it saves you time. And better yet, buying groceries online can save you money.
And who doesn’t love to save money?
So if you’re a total online grocery shopping beginner, I’ve got my absolute best hacks ready to go just for you. By the time you get done reading this post, you’ll wonder how you ever bought groceries any other way.
Who Offers Grocery Shopping Online?
If you’ve never shopped for groceries online before, you’re probably wondering how you even do it.
The good news is, you have lots of options. Here’s a quick rundown of my favorite ways to grocery shop online.
Walmart Grocery was my first introduction to online grocery shopping.
Here’s how it works:
- You download the Walmart Grocery app (it’s free!)
- You create an account using your email and set your preferred store location
- You choose a time you want to pick up your groceries
- You shop and add items to your cart
- When you’re done shopping, you check out and pay
Once you send in your order, you just wait for your shoppers to fill it. When your order is ready, you’ll get a notification letting you know you can come to pick it up.
You check in with the app to let Walmart know you’re on the way. Then you drive to the store, pull into one of the assigned spots for grocery pickup and wait for someone to bring your groceries out.
It’s easy to save time and save money grocery shopping!
Target also lets you shop for groceries online and pick them up at your local store. Or, you can order certain items and get them delivered the same day with Shipt. (An extra fee applies if you’re not a Shipt member.)
Shipt grocery delivery isn’t available in all of Target’s markets. But if you live in a covered area, it’s an easy way to do your grocery shopping online so you don’t have to leave the house.
And of course, you always save 5% and get free shipping for items you buy online from Target all the time when you use your REDCard.
AmazonFresh and Prime Pantry
AmazonFresh and Prime Pantry are two different options for ordering groceries online with Amazon.
AmazonFresh is a delivery service that’s available in selected markets across the U.S. Prime Pantry is a delivery service for grocery and household staples.
Either one could help you save money grocery shopping, depending on what you buy.
You’ll need to be an Amazon Prime member to use AmazonFresh. And being a Prime member also means you can save money on shipping for Prime Pantry orders.
Instacart is my best friend for life or longer.
Seriously, I love it because it saves me time and money on grocery shopping.
Here’s how it works:
- You download the Instacart app and create an account (also free!)
- You choose which store (or stores) you want to shop at
- You add items to your cart and when you’re done shopping, check out and pay
- Your Instacart shopper goes to the store, shops for your items, checks them out and delivers them to you
Instacart is great if you want a truly contactless grocery shopping experience. You pay through the app and you can ask your shopper to leave your items on your front porch.
Depending on how busy your local store is and the time of day, you can get groceries delivered with Instacart in under an hour.
How to Save Money Grocery Shopping Online
1. Meal plan first
If you’re not meal planning regularly, then you’re probably wasting money on groceries instead of saving it.
Meal planning is such a huge help when you want to save money grocery shopping because it keeps you from buying things you don’t need.
At our house, we have a dozen or so staple meals that we rotate through every couple of weeks. And once a week I try to make something new that we haven’t had before to see if we want to add it to the rotation.
If you don’t know where to start with meal planning, you’ll want to read this guide.
You can also check out $5 Meal Plan if you need some inspiration or ideas for meals. It’s an inexpensive way to have meals planned out for you each week and it comes with a shopping list so you know exactly what to buy.
And be sure to grab your free meal planning printables in the Busy Mom Vault!
2. Decide whether you want pick-up or delivery
Depending on where you live and what your local stores offer, you may be able to grocery shop online, then have your items delivered or pick them up.
So which one is better?
The answer depends on what you need.
Most stores offer pick-up service for free, though some do have a fee. Our local Food Lion, for example, charges for pick-up.
With delivery, you’re also going to pay a fee. You may also pay added service charges as well.
Instacart, for example, charges a delivery fee and a heavy order fee if you’re buying things that are over a certain weight, like bottled water. Plus, it’s just good practice to tip your Instacart shopper or your grocery delivery person.
So if you want to save time more than you want to save money, go for delivery. But if you want to save money grocery shopping first and save time second, then try free pick-up instead.
3. Snag a coupon to save on your first order
An easy way to save money grocery shopping online is to find a promo code for money off your first order.
If you’re shopping with a chain other than Walmart and you’re not using Instacart, check the store’s website to see if a coupon or promo code is available for your first order. You can also scout out coupon sites like RetailMeNot.
4. Compare prices online
Saving money on groceries is all about finding the best price. So before you start filling up your online cart, take time to compare prices first.
Instacart is a good way to do this. For example, when I log into the app I can compare prices at all the stores in my area that use Instacart.
You can just toggle back and forth between stores to see who’s got the better deals. I’ll then compare that to the prices in the Walmart Grocery app and what Food Lion has on sale for the week.
Once you do that for a few weeks, you’ll start to get a feel for how different stores price the same items and when those items tend to go on sale. It makes a lot easier to tailor your shopping list for the week so you’re not overspending.
5. Start by shopping your staples
Staples are the things you might buy week to week and always keep stocked in your pantry. Flour, sugar, cooking oil, eggs, milk — that kind of thing.
Shopping for staples first when buying groceries online is smart because it keeps you from getting distracted and filling up your cart with unnecessary items.
Plus, those items typically don’t see huge swings in pricing from one week to the next. So you’ve got some built-in predictability when it comes to creating your food budget for those things.
6. Shop sale items next
Once you’ve got the staples out of the way, then check out what’s on sale.
Remember, though, you’re only looking for sale items that you can work into your meal plan. Buying things just because they’re on sale can end up being a waste of money if you don’t use them.
Also, if you’re shopping through Instacart or your grocery store’s app, check to see if there are any digital coupons you can apply.
And sign up for the store’s loyalty program if you haven’t yet. Food Lion, for example, offers weekly digital coupons for MVP members.
Applying digital coupons is another easy way to save money grocery shopping online, especially if you don’t want to waste time clipping coupons.
7. Maintain a favorites list
Creating a favorites list in your store’s grocery shopping app can save you time and money on grocery shopping.
Your favorites list includes the things you buy regularly. So again, that’s those staple items I mentioned earlier.
When you log into Instacart or to your store’s app, you can go to your favorites list and add anything you bought from the previous week that you want to buy again.
Walmart’s grocery app will even let you create your entire cart from one week to the next.
It’s a helpful time-saving hack if you’re buying the same things most weeks. And if you bought something last week isn’t on sale this week, you can just remove it from your cart with the tap of a button.
8. Use Ibotta to earn cashback
Ibotta is an insanely easy way to save money grocery shopping online or in-store.
You can use the Ibotta app to shop at most major grocery stores, including Walmart and Target. All you do is activate cashback offers and shop like you normally would.
You can also save when you shop in-store by linking your loyalty card or uploading receipts after you shop. Easy peasy, right?
9. Make friends with your Instacart shopper
I can’t sing the virtues of Instacart enough, even though I know not everyone loves it.
But if you’re using Instacart to shop, one of the best ways to save money grocery shopping is by being friendly with your shopper.
Not in a let’s-hang-out-and-braid-each-others-hair kind of way but being polite can work in your favor. Because your Instacart shopper is your personal gatekeeper to saving money on groceries.
If you’ve never used Instacart before, it has a neat little chat feature. You can pop in and chat with your shopper and they can ask you questions about substitutions or changes to your order.
Each time I get a notification that my shopper has started shopping, I open up the chat, say hello and thank them for shopping for me.
As they shop, I’ll ask them questions or they’ll ask me if I want to swap things out. I also ask about what’s been marked down that morning to see if I can switch anything out for items at a lower price.
This can help you save money on grocery shopping if your shopper is willing to go the extra mile to help you find a deal.
So the next time you shop with Instacart, give it a try. And don’t forget to tip your shopper, too.
10. Consider buying in bulk
Buying in bulk can help you save money grocery shopping if the per-unit price is lower.
Amazon Prime Pantry is great for this if they have the items you want to buy in bulk in stock.
You can also buy in bulk from Walmart but just keep in mind certain items may have limits on how much you can buy.
When deciding whether to buy in bulk, look at the unit price first. Then consider how likely you are to use it and how long its shelf life is to make sure it’s worth it.
Bonus tip: Double-check your cart before you check out
If you’ve filled up your online grocery cart you may be all ready to pay but hold on.
Go through your cart one more time and ask yourself: do I need this? for every single item.
If the answer is no, remove it. And if the answer is yes, check again to make sure you’ve found the best price on that item.
Have you tried online grocery shopping yet?
Now that I’ve experienced the joys of not having to go into a store to buy groceries, I’m a diehard fan of online grocery shopping.
Aside from saving time, I also save money grocery shopping which is important since we’re a one-income family.
Have you given grocery shopping online a go yet? If so, what do you love or hate about it?
Got another tip for saving money on groceries? Head to the comments and tell me about it.
And don’t forget to pin and share this post!