Well, almost.  Food ordering is not quite up to 24th Century standards yet.  (You know, the way Captain Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation would address the Enterprises’s computer. “Computer. Tea, Earl Grey, hot.”  Then, before our very eyes and within seconds, a steaming cup of tea would appear in the replicator.)  But, hey, we’re getting pretty darn close.

So, grocery shopping may not quite be at the tip of your tongue, but, it is at the tip of your fingers.  Our area’s local grocers now have online ordering options that make any 21st Century human feel high tech!  From Walmart to Lowes Foods to Food Lion, ordering groceries is only a Mobile App away.

Save Time and Money, and Reduce Waist!

I love using these time saving features.  While there is a certain sense of gratification with the thrill of the hunt for the best grocery prices, I cherish the sense of calmness that comes with avoiding schlepping the only cart with one bad wheel up and down aisles, trying to get around that one oblivious shopper who is not only blocking the entire aisle but is right in front of the item I need, or trying to catch and return every bag of candy that my child (or spouse) has quietly added to my cart as I scan the shelves for that specific brand of crackers that I know I bought 3 weeks ago.

If that doesn’t sound appealing enough, online shopping can save your waistline too!  Oh, go ahead and shop hungry.  Out of sight, out of mind.  If you don’t see those Oreo cookies on the virtual shelf, they probably won’t end up in your virtual cart.

You want it? They Got it!

Yes, you can purchase almost everything that Walmart sells in the store.  But, you will be less likely to double your budget because you will not have to walk by linens, electronics, children’s clothing, toys, bikes, or party supplies to get to the ibuprofen in the pharmacy section.  Best of all, these online apps are open 24/7.  I can shop at two o’clock in the morning till my heart’s content (or wallet is bare), and pick up my order at my convenience the next day or the day after that!  You can shop days in advance.

Just like in-person shopping, some items are sold out and you have to select a substitute.  Unlike in-person shopping, some stores will substitute that item with another product that may be a better, more expensive product (think store brand vs. name brand), but still only charge you the original products price.  My best substitution to date was a 32 ounce block of cheddar cheese for the same price as the 16 ounce block that was sold out.  Score!  Thankfully, you can decline any of the substitutions.  Armour Potted Meat is a far cry from Armour Dried Beef.

What’s that called again?

This should come as no surprise that 21st Century technology isn’t perfect.  There have been times that I have had to be creative with my product search description.  Recently, it took many combinations of japanese-ramen-noodles-spicy chicken before Instacart finally found Yakisoba noodles.  And, then, sometimes Lowes Foods site can’t find Kibbles ‘N Bits dog food.  Go figure.

All in all, I have been pleasantly surprised by all three of the service providers.  Personal Shoppers are the most pleasant employees.  Loyalty cards are honored as well as digital coupons, so you can maximize savings.  The apps or websites are easy enough to navigate, and most products include an image of the item along with nutritional information in case you are watching your sodium, fat content, or counting carbs.

Side-by-Side Comparison:

For those of you who have been dabbling with the idea of online grocery shopping but have not yet been able to pull that trigger or press the enter key, here’s a summary of the three services that are currently available in our area.

Don’t be put off by Lowe’s Foods higher service charge.  If you can wait until Black Friday, you can get a significant discount off the annual fee.  For the past two years, I have paid $39.00 for the annual unlimited service.  That averages to 75 cents per week!

Fear the future no more!  Technology is a wonderful evolution.  It may not be long before we utter “Alexa, latte, decaf, soy milk, gluten free, sugar free, vegan.”  And a bottle of water magically appears.

Kathie Lee








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