If you’re like a lot of people, you may have a dislike of grocery shopping. I get it. It can be a huge hassle, and when the stores are busy, it seems like a gigantic waste of time. If only there was a better way, right?
These days, there is. Grocery subscription services are slowly, but surely, changing the landscape of grocery shopping. A 2017 report by Nielsen estimated that online grocery sales, including grocery subscription services, could grow to a $100-billion industry by 2025.
But this convenience can come with a pretty hefty price tag. So, is it ever worth it to sign up for one?
Here’s the skinny on grocery subscription services.
The Time Factor
One of the common reasons people sign up for a grocery subscription service is to save time. Whether you are single, married or have a family, there is no doubt a grocery subscription service can reduce the time you spend on this tedious task each week.
Just take a minute to think about how long it takes you to get to the store, drag out a cart, and spend time selecting the freshest fruits and vegetables you can find, not to mention all of the other items throughout the store.
Then you have to unload the cart so items can be weighed and scanned, pay your bill and wheel everything outside to your car.
Finally, you load your car. But you still aren’t done. You have to get everything home, unload the car and put it all away.
By the time you’re done, you’ve spent an average of 43 minutes just shopping, according to a survey by The Time Use Institute. That figure doesn’t include going to and from the store, paying and the other time-consuming parts of a grocery shopping trip.
Now multiply those shopping minutes by 1.5, because this is the average number of trips people make each week. You have spent an average of just over an hour doing only the shopping for the week.
It’s obvious that using a grocery subscription service can save you time. You still have to choose your meal plan. But, all you have to do is click a mouse and wait for it to show up on your doorstep.
Prices for meal delivery services vary from company to company. However, most are comparable, especially after the introductory discounts have expired. Here’s a quick run-down of some of the most popular grocery subscription services and their costs.
Blue Apron charges $9.99 per serving for each person on the two-person plan. The total for two meals per week on this plan is $47.95, including the shipping.
The family plan for Blue Apron provides meals for four people. Signing up for this plan reduces the price to $8.99 per serving or a total of $71.92 with free shipping.
The cost of Hello Fresh is very comparable to Blue Apron, except that they offer free shipping on both plans. Hello Fresh also offers an additional vegetarian plan for the same price as their classic, two-person, plan.
A third option is Sun Basket. Their plans are a little more expensive than Blue Apron and Hello Fresh.
The Classic Menu serves two people, three times per week, for $71.94. If you are feeding a family, you will pay $79.92 to feed four people twice per week.
It is plain to see that the family plan is more economical no matter which company you choose. But if you are single, you would likely sign up for the two-person plan, which costs more per meal.
Alternatives to Grocery Subscription Services
If those meal plans seem expensive, maybe a different alternative could be better for your budget. Here are a few to check into.
Call Ahead Service
Some grocery stores, such as Safeway, Walmart and others, will allow you to call ahead and place your grocery order, or order online. Afterward, a worker will pull each item from the shelves to fulfill your order. Then all you have to do is pay and go pick it up at the front of the store. Some stores are also beginning to offer car-side delivery so you don’t even have to get out of your vehicle to pay and they’ll load your groceries for you.
You may not have to pick up your groceries from all stores. But another alternative to ask about is delivery. There are some stores that have a delivery service, which will drop off your order at your home for a fee.
How to Save Time Doing Your Own Shopping
The high price of grocery subscription services and even the alternatives can be off-putting. If this is the case for you and you decide to continue doing your own grocery shopping, here are a few tips to help make your grocery shopping trips quicker.
Make a List
If you don’t shop with a list, you’re probably wasting time and money on things you don’t need. You’re more likely to give in to temptations and buy things that look good without a real plan of how to use them and incorporate them with things you already have to make a meal at home.
Map It Out
Don’t just make a list of what you need. If you really want to save time, put it in an order based on how your store is laid out. This way you won’t have to backtrack to get an item further down the list.
Shop at Off-Peak Times
Try going to the store at different times until you find one that’s less busy. For instance, try going on Friday or Saturday night instead of during the day on the weekend. Or, if you have flexibility in your schedule, go during a work day. Less people in the store means a faster checkout process.
Should You Sign Up for a Grocery Subscription Service?
When compared to purchasing your own items in a grocery store, there is no question it’s vastly more expensive to subscribe to a grocery delivery service. But, whether you should sign up may depend on more than just the cost.
For one, the time savings might mean more to you than the price. But you should also consider that some items may not be as fresh as you would like. In addition, you may still need to make a run to the grocery store to get other items such as milk, bread or meat in-between deliveries.
Like anything, there are some advantages and disadvantages to using a grocery subscription service. You must weigh them all in order to make the decision that is best for you.
What things do you consider when determining the best purchasing options for groceries? Let us know in the comments below!
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