Health & Wellness: The return of home-delivered groceries

What is old is new again! The resurgence of yet another old trend in today’s society. Anyone remember horse-carts or truck merchants who traveled around selling various staples? There was the watermelon man, the ragman and bottled milk and dairy delivery. Later came companies providing everything from Fuller Brushes, Charles Potato Chips, and of course Watkins health remedies and baking needs. Well, today’s traveling salesmen are still making deliveries, but they are online.

According to the NPD Group, 52 million Americans buy their groceries online. This is a number that will only increase with tech-savvy young people and seniors. We are turning to the internet to buy food, clothing, medications, and even furniture.

University of Washington engineers found that grocery delivery services cut carbon dioxide emissions by at least half when compared with individual household trips to the store. Delivery trucks filled to capacity for delivery in clustered neighborhoods showed the greatest efficiency.

“A lot of times people think they have to inconvenience themselves to be greener, and that actually isn’t the case here,” said Anne Goodchild, UW associate professor of civil and environmental engineering. “From an environmental perspective, grocery delivery services overwhelmingly can provide emissions reductions.”

Let’s talk about home-delivered groceries from local grocery stores. Each store varies somewhat in the way they handle orders. You will need to create an online account with a login and password. You can do this with a smartphone, tablet or computer. Having an account is helpful, because you can view previous orders, compare prices and brands.

Alternatives to online ordering
There are a few alternatives to online computer ordering. A frequently asked question from seniors: Can someone else place a grocery delivery order for me? The answer is yes. If you do not have a computer or smartphone or just do not feel computer savvy, you may want/need to get help.

You can enlist someone else to place orders for you. Grocery orders are often placed for a parent, by a trusted friend, or for a student away at college. One simply creates a new account with that person’s delivery address. You work out your own payment arrangements.

Keep in mind that groceries can be home-delivered for walk-in shoppers, too. Phone your favorite grocery store or stop by the customer service desk to see if they offer the service. Unfortunately, phone orders and mail-in orders are not accepted in lieu of online ordering. And of course, restaurants deliver meals with a phone-in order.

You can even order from some local grocery stores, schedule a pickup time, and have groceries delivered to your car on your way home. Fresh produce, frozen foods and even hot rotisserie chickens are available—anything in the store. Some stores guarantee one-hour delivery and other benefits.

All the major grocery stores in our area have the service. Walmart, Jewel-Osco, Whole Foods, Mariano’s, Kroger, Aldi, Safeway and Trader Joe’s, etc. Check online for a store near you and the delivery radius. Holiday meal packages and party specials are also available. Aldi announced home delivery last summer.
Of course, there are other pros and cons for online shopping and grocery delivery. Utah State University Extension pointed out the pros and cons listed below:

Consider the pros:

  • You are far less likely to overspend. Supermarkets spend millions on alluring designs, displays with flashing lights, pouring beverages, captivating music, etc. All are designed to relax the customer into staying in the store longer and spending more money. Online shoppers usually have a list of items that they need and it is easy to stick to it. No impulse buying or distractions.
  • It saves time. You can shop online, choose a pickup time and on your way home have the groceries loaded into your car or have them delivered. Do it all without stepping foot into the grocery store, leaving more time for work, family, and leisure activities.
  • It is far less stressful than dealing with busy stores and parking lots at peak hours when everyone else is there.
  • Less money is spent on gas. If you are able to have your items delivered to your front door, there is no need to go to the grocery, in the rain, on icy snowy streets, etc.
    Most grocery sites store your last shopping list. This makes it easier to re-order items and make adjustments. You can add to your grocery list all week before placing an order.
    Deliveries can be terrific for homebound seniors during bouts of illness, inclement weather, and for busy caregivers. You can shop online 24/7.
    Consider the Cons:
    It can be more expensive. Depending on the store, there can be additional costs for usage and delivery fees. The price of the food is a primary factor in deciding where to shop. It is easy to compare online prices with stores like Aldi and Costco in the game.
    You cannot hand-pick each item. Buying fresh produce can be a challenge since you are unable to see the quality of the item before you buy it.
    You may still need to go to the grocery store. If you only use the online services for your weekly shopping, you may need to go to the store to purchase perishables.
    Everything old is new again. Merry Christmas, everyone!Prepared by Drusilla Banks, Extension Educator, Nutrition and Wellness; University of Illinois Extension in Bourbonnais, IL.

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