During my stay overseas, I was living in an urban setting with no car. Apparently, most insurance companies are leery about guaranteeing that Americans will remember which side of the road to drive on, how to interpret the VERY different road markings, and how to find and follow the picture based road signs that bear little resemblance to any instruction you would see in the States. Hmph.
Grocery shopping for a family of 5, with three little people in tow, is an adventure when you know you must carry all of your groceries home. Luckily, grocery stores are sprinkled generously throughout town, so I only had to walk about half a mile to shop. We shopped almost daily, as the children ate like ravenous teenagers rather than their typical small selves. (I put that down to the large amounts of fresh air and exercise obtained during our stay.) We carried home enough to last about a day and a half, which works out quite nicely because the fridge in our flat was only moderately larger than the average dorm fridge. I found that with such a small fridge, we were encouraged to use all of our supplies, nothing got pushed to the back and forgotten, only later to demand emancipation.
Imagine my great delight when I discovered ONLINE grocery shopping! That's right. You browse the selections, put things in your virtual cart, and a personal shopper bags it and DELIVERS IT TO YOUR KITCHEN.
Yes, I was skeptical at first. How would it be possible to shop online? I need to read all the labels. How can I trust someone else to get the right product? Will they chose the produce as carefully as I would?
I found that each store had a full ingredient section, along with 'allergy advice' section for each product right there on their site. Awesome! I could read every label while the kiddos played happily. No whining about how ready they were to move on, no chasing each other up and down the aisle screaming like madwomen, scaring all of the childless people. What a relief!
Each store allowed the customer to indicate whether substitutions were allowed, or not allowed. You could make a general choice for your entire order, or you could indicate by product. Fabulous! So, I can make sure they do not change the bread I have selected, but the bag of baby carrots could be replaced if needed. As an added bonus: You can make a note on each product about the type of substitution acceptable. So, when I said yes, you can substitute the organic bacon I chose if it is not in stock, I was able to indicate what allergens they needed to check for in order to replace it.
Delivery was free with most stores if you met their minimum purchase amount (which was very reasonable). There was a marked difference in the quality of service from store to store, the same as you would expect here if you shop Whole Foods versus Aldi or Publix. (In case you care to know, Waitrose won the service award hands down. I was blown away at the extra care they took in product selection, packaging, and the service oriented attitude of their delivery person. Just fabulous.)
The only disadvantage I found with online delivery? It was so easy to over order because your visual catalog of how much is in your cart is so different. When shopping to fill a dorm size fridge, it doesn't take much to overdo!
Next time I go over, I will be shopping prior to my flight, and scheduling delivery to arrive shortly after I do. How wonderful would it be to skip grocery shopping with jet lag? Ahhhh. Let's all take a nap to celebrate, shall we?