My name is Katie and I am in love with grocery pickup. Even before the pandemic, I was ordering groceries on an app and keeping my three crazy kids safely buckled in their seats. I can order groceries after the kids go to bed or while I'm making dinner which is such a huge time saver for me. My biggest reason for loving it is it's impossible to go over budget!! You see your running total the entire time. Over the years I have come to learn which places I prefer to shop and how to make the process as easy as possible.
First, let's talk about where I prefer to do my grocery pickup. You might be surprised but it's Walmart. They have always offered pickup for free although now most other major stores are currently doing it for free. Their ordering app is easy to use, substitutions can easily be changed before you pickup, and you tell them when you're on your way so that they can have your order ready as soon as you arrive ( although this doesn't always happen ). So let's talk more about what I have found using different stores for grocery pickup!
Walmart's app is very easy to use. I have found other's like Aldi and Meijer more difficult and I can't find what I'm looking for unless I type the exact words it needs me to search. You search your groceries and add them to your cart. I actually like to use this as a running grocery list for me. Instead of writing it down when I notice we need something, I just add it to my cart and it saves it in there for when I'm ready to fill my cart and place the order.
When we went gluten free for my son with celiac, it was so nice to be able to just search "gluten free bread" and see all of the available options without it being one specific brand. You can do this for a lot of things and pick which one you would like. I also love being able to research a brand if I need to online instead of doing it at the store while I'm actually shopping to know if it's a safe food for him to eat.
You can typically add to your order until the stores specific cut off time if you realize you forgot something. This is also a huge perk to me because when I go to the store I ALWAYS forget something, even when I have a list!!
Not every store is the same on this so first let's talk about Walmart. They send you an email about an hour before your pickup time and tell you what substitutions they have made if any. You then have time to remove those items if they aren't what you need. You can also do this when you arrive but I like being able to save time before I get there. All stores offer to remove substitutions when you arrive. At Meijer they just read me them and Kroger gives me a printed list.
Some stores will give you the lower price on an item when they need to substitute. I have scored some major jackpots and also some major excessive amounts of things with this! I have gotten upgraded to premium Pampers diapers when I order store brand, got a 5 lb. bag of french fries, and even come home with a 25 lb. bag of birdseed. At some of the stores, they give you the lower price even if the substitute was more expensive.
For the most part, I've had good luck with substitutes. It really depends on who is doing your shopping. I once had plain whole milk yogurt substituted with zero fat vanilla greek yogurt which for me is a lot different but that's really as off as they have gotten. Now, being out of things is another big annoyance for people. At the height of the pandemic many things were out of stock. During normal times, I typically only have 1-2 things that aren't in stock and often times they have everything. This likely will also vary depending on what types of things you order.
I can't talk about pickup without talking about wait times. Every single store is going to be different for this!! Even across the same store at different locations. Your pickup time can greatly impact your wait. Don't order for pickup on the weekends! It's always going to be busier making longer wait times. Weekday mid mornings are the slowest but that's also not doable for everyone. Walmart has you check in on their app so they know when you should arrive typically making it a shorter wait. The longest I have waited is 30 minutes and that was in the height of the pandemic. It tends to be no more than 10 minutes but more like 5 minutes on average. The wait is a minimum of 15 minutes for me at Kroger and Meijer.
So what do you do? Find the pickup spot and pull into a space. Some stores have you call or text when you arrive. They will bring out your order and load it straight into your car. Kroger will accept coupons when you pickup too!
I've heard some horror stories of waits up to 2 hours and missing groceries but that personally has never happened to me. I would much rather save time not going into a store if I don't have to especially with three kids in tow. Are you a big fan of grocery pickup? What store is your favorite? Here's a referral link to get $10 off your Walmart pickup order!