I’ve used Instacart for a couple of years now. I started using it when I was dealing with a really bad sciatic pain episode but continued to use it off and on whenever Beau and I would be too busy to go to the grocery store, as it can be a major time-saver. Superhero moms who are also homeschooling their kids right now, this might give you back some much needed time.
To check for availability in your area, you can check using your zipcode.
Safety: Rest assured that Instacart is taking every precaution to keep everyone safe. All shoppers are required to wear masks even if their state doesn’t require it. Instacart also requires shoppers to leave the groceries at your door so both parties can maintain social distancing.
After the delivery, I like to follow the same protocols that the CDC recommends regarding sanitizing newly purchased items: wipe down all packaging with a anti-bacterial wipe and soak produce in a warm water and vinegar solution. This is the same protocol I follow when I go grocery shopping myself.
Let me walk you through the Instacart process step-by-step and try to answer any questions you might have.
1. Download the Instacart App on your phone’s app store. Your first order comes with free delivery!
2. Make an account
3. Search for your favorite grocery store to see if they are available through Instacart
Most grocery stores have teamed up with Instacart, but some chains such as Trader Joes have not yet joined the service.
Instacart offers two different services: Delivery and Store Pick-Up:
Not all stores offer both features, so if you have a delivery method preference you might have to find a store near you that offers it.
With delivery, an Instacart shopper will bring your groceries directly to your home. Delivery costs $3.99, and a tip is optional/encouraged.
A few stores offer pick-up, where an Instacart shopper does the shopping for you and brings your order out to your car in the store parking lot once it is ready. The pick-up service costs $1.99, and no tip is required. Since each grocery store only has a few designated parking spots for grocery pick-up, they fill up pretty fast. You might have to keep checking the app for an available pick-up time slot.
5. Fill up your cart
Have your grocery list ready, and type each item into the search bar. Or, you can also scan an item you already have through the barcode feature on the right hand side of the search bar.
Once you’ve typed in your desired item, look through the different options and choose the exact quantity to add to your cart.
I absolutely hate forgetting an item on my list so I love this grocery list pad from Amazon to help me brainstorm what items I might be forgetting:
4. Begin check-out
Once you are done filling up your cart, click on the green cart icon at the top right of your screen. Note that there is a $35 minimum on all orders.
5. Pick your delivery method and time
You will either have the option to choose a 2 hour time frame on a particular day or “Fast & Flexible”.
Fast & Flexible allows you to choose the days of the week that work best for you, and you will be added to a queue. The first available shopper will take your order some time within those days. Make sure you are going to be home and available, since they could notify you that your order is being shopped at any time during store hours.
6. Be on standby to chat with your shopper
Your shopper will be asking you questions while shopping, so it is best to schedule deliveries on days that you can be near your phone.
You will be notified both via the app and through texts whenever there is a change to your order. Don’t worry, you will get to approve every change!
If an item you requested is not available, you will have the option to choose a replacement option.
If you don’t find a replacement you like, the item will be refunded and you will not be charged.
You can communicate with your shopper either via the app, or text messages while they are shopping. As you can see here, my shopper notified me that the cucumbers weren’t the best quality, and I was able to choose whether to keep them or remove them from my cart.
7. Prepare for your order to arrive
Once your shopper has finished shopping, they will ask you one last time if you need any last minute additions. If not, they will head to the checkout.
If you are picking up your order from the store, wait until you get notified that your order is ready for pick up, since it can take a little bit of time to process and be ready to be brought out to you. There is also an option for you to let your shopper know your ETA so they can be ready to come out to your car as soon as you arrive.
For home delivery, your shopper will notify you when they are on their way.
You do not have to be home or even interact with your shopper during lockdown. They will leave your groceries at your front of your door and you can open your door and grab them once they’ve left. I like to have my door open and thank them from 6 feet away.
I promise you, once you’ve completed your first order through Instacart, all of this will make sense. This is a wonderful service, especially during this time.
Answers to a few questions I’ve been asked:
Does Instacart charge you extra for the groceries?
No, each individual store sets the prices for each of their items. You might miss out on in-store sales right now, but that might be worth it for the time being.
Are the shoppers careful with the current situation?
With the new “leave at my door” option, the entire delivery is done contact free. All of the shoppers that have delivered my groceries have been wearing masks and have kept social distance when I greeted them. The only time you have to get closer than 6 feet is if you purchase alcohol, in which case they are required to check/scan your ID.
I still wipe down all of my pantry items and soak my produce in a warm water and vinegar bath just to be safe. I do this when I go to the store myself as well.
Should I feel bad that someone else is shopping for me?
Not at all! Using Instacart not only helps to flatten the curve by reducing the amount of individuals going to the grocery store each day, but you are also allowing someone to work that might have just lost their job. Instacart recently hired over 300,000 new shoppers to meet demand during the pandemic. We have been giving 20%+ tips to the shoppers assigned to us as a thank you.
I hope I answered any questions you might have had.
Let me know if you end up using Instacart for the first time!