Last weekend I had a super busy Friday- I had meetings until 6PM, then I had to fetch groceries so I could feed my family and my sister’s family- who was staying over for the weekend.
Enter Instacart. A few weeks back, I saw the poster above at the local Aldi and made a mental note (actually an Evernote) to try it out next time I was ready for an Aldi run. Our Aldi is about 5 miles away from our house, so we only hit it once a month when we are in that area of town – But the trip is worth it every time. Aldi has prices that beat Costco on many items.
So Friday was the day. Test drive the combination of the savings of Aldi with the convenience of Instacart – a perfect match.
Or was it?
There’s a few things to know about Instacart.
INSTACART PRO – Convenience.
You pick stuff out in a virtual grocery cart on your phone’s app. Groceries show up at your door. You can pay a ‘rush’ charge to have the groceries delivered to your home within 2 hours, or wait within the stated delivery window it gives you at checkout.
If an item is not available, you can give the shopper the option to substitute or they can text you a notification that they are out of Fuji Apples and are substituting Jazz Apples etc.
Note that I had the misconception that a store clerk filled the order and handed it off to a driver, but this is not the case- The Instacart driver does all the shopping, checkout, and delivery of your items for you.
INSTACART CON – Cost.
I noticed that prices on most of the items are marked-up about 10 to 15 percent. This is baked in to the convenience cost, as well as the straight-up fee you pay for delivery, plus the optional tip to the driver. In my case, I can usually fill a cart at Aldi for $70 but I paid $90 for 4 paper grocery bags’ worth of food delivered.
INSTACART CON – Selection. You don’t personally cherry-pick the produce or perishables.
In my case I thought I was ordering a bag of Apples at $3.79 and a single Onion for $1.18, but it was flip-flopped. I received a bag of 8 onions (a 2 years supply for our family) and one single Fuji Apple. But it was the best tasting Fuji Apple I’ve ever had 🙂
You also don’t get to see what the smoking deals are (the famous ‘Middle Aisle’ at Aldi) and make snap decisions to overstock on some items if the price works strongly in your favor.
INSTACART CON (or PRO) – You’ve hired a Butler.
In my convenience note above I stated the misconception I had thinking that a store clerk preps the order for a driver to grab- Not the case (at least for Aldi). I felt kind of sheepish opening the door to my house on a Friday night and finding out the driver had spent the better part of the last hour picking up 70 dollars’ worth of ground beef, eggs, napkins, lunch meat, chips, and produce on my behalf. Somehow I feel no remorse when I hop in an Uber/Lyft for a 5 mile ride or order UberEats for a lunch meeting at work. But Instacart somehow makes me feel like I’m only a step away from having a Butler or Personal Chef in my home.
INSTACART BOTTOM LINE: I would use Instacart again if I was in a dire pinch for time and need a grocery run from Aldi or Costco. Knowing that there is a price markup on most items, I would NOT use Instacart to have items delivered from one of the local retail-price supermarkets.