It Saves Time and Money, But I Have One Big Regret About Online Grocery Shopping

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

A few weeks ago, when I saw a promotion for a year of grocery deliveries for $49, I signed up for Shipt, and so far I love it. Both of the deliveries I’ve received so far were perfect. My shoppers were communicative, accurate, and on time. And ordering groceries online forced me to meal plan. I saved money, and I certainly saved energy; having someone else do my shopping while I worked made me feel on top of it and efficient. While I’m thrilled with the time-saving opportunities that are on the horizon, I can’t help but consider a nagging thought of what the convenience of grocery delivery is causing me to give up.

I live in Florida’s capital, but in so many ways, Tallahassee is a small town. On the same day that I had an appointment with my dermatologist, I ran into him later at my kids’ piano lessons. Our preschool’s director seems to know everyone in the city; when my son broke his arm, she asked about the doctor he was going to see and lo and behold, yep, his kids had gone to the same preschool.

This close-knit community extends to our stores. I see the same friendly faces where I shop. I get pictures printed at Costco regularly, and the people who work in the photo department know my family through our pictures. Very well.

(Image credit: Viv Yapp)

What I Don’t Like About Online Grocery Shopping

When someone shops for my groceries, I miss the opportunity to see and greet familiar faces, both the workers and the acquaintances it’s very likely I’ll run into. I don’t think this is a big deal here and there — some days I’m thankful I don’t have to engage in small talk. But over time, will outsourcing grocery shopping erode my sense of the city I live in being my community?

And what about my kids? Some moms avoid shopping with their kids like the plague; I’m the mom who won’t “waste” alone time grocery shopping, so they are accustomed to going with me. Setting aside for now the fact that using Shipt means more time on my phone or computer, likely in front of them, what are my kids missing out on by not going shopping with me?

True, I’m escaping having to say “don’t touch” five thousand times per trip and I don’t have to remind them to “exercise self-control” and not ask me for every thing that looks good to them. But I’m also missing those chances to make them sooooo happy by buying a snack they love, and to watch them light up every time they see another sample stand at Costco. How will I teach them how to pick out good tomatoes, read ingredient labels, and pick out the milk with the farthest away “use by” date if they’re not doing these things alongside me? How will they learn the life skill of grocery shopping?

For now, I’m going to enjoy my grocery delivery. But maybe I won’t outsource every shopping session. And I expect that now when I do take my kids grocery shopping with me, feat though it always is, I’ll appreciate it as one of life’s simple joys and I’ll consciously view the experience as a chance to enjoy my children and teach them.

So for now I’ll let Shipt handle my Costco and Publix runs, but I’m glad they don’t deliver from Trader Joe’s because there, at least, we’ll regularly get to hold onto the good parts of the the “old” way of doing things.