Thursday, February 02, 2006

Online Grocery Shopping

I am so busy, I've had trouble finding time to plan meals and get to the store to anticipate my grocery needs. Which means I eat crap or substitute ingredients in recipes or make up some ridiculous dishes in an effort to feed myself. So I've taken this time at home (two days off for this nasty flu crap I've got) to research my online options and placed an order that will arrive shortly after I get back from school on Saturday.

I forgot how great online grocery shopping can be. Back in Saint Paul, I used to have Simon Delivers show up with groceries and I loved it. They'd save your grocery list staples and you could automatically load them to your order. They brought excellent fruit and veg, which I always worried about since I couldn't pick it out myself. And the drivers were always so nice. Twice they carried the bins up the steps into the house (when they delivered when I was home.) It made eating healthy and cooking-in so much easier.

Here in the UK, online shopping is a big deal. Most of the major grocery stores offer the service and honour all in-store prices, so you can get your loyalty points (also a big thing here) and buy your favourite in-store brands. They, too, save your lists and search for deals for you, and one of them has a price-comparing module that lets you shop your list at a competitor to prove they're the cheapest. (On my list they weren't, but I buy weird things like lemongrass and shitake mushrooms.) What's even better, they deliver wine, beer, and spirits, too. (Minnesota needs to get with the programme on this one...get these things into the grocery stores where they belong so you don't have to run all over town with your errands. Plus you're getting a Trader Joe's in St. Louis Park, and you will have trouble with the Two Buck Chuck if the laws don't change.)

The best thing about online shopping here is that the stock isn't regionalised to accommodate your local tastes. UK grocers, even big ones, stock their shelves according to what they think their audience wants, and items vary greatly from chain to chain and store to store. There's a great chocolate bar from Green and Black that I can only get at the Tesco in Kingston, and the Tesco in Wolverton is the only place for turkey bacon, and Waitrose has enough mexican groceries to make a passable enchilada and Sainsbury's can help me find cheap lowfat rhubarb yogurt. Oh. And NO ONE has kosher dills. But online, all of these vendors carry all of these things! It's great! I HAVE PICKLES COMING, and the ingredients do not include sugar! I even found Jif peanut butter and Makers Mark at an affordable price. (Jif averages about $5.50 for a small jar and Maker's Mark is about $40 for a not-quite-fifth if you shop in the stores.)

And, in the end I only spent slightly more than I would have if I'd gone to the stores. And there's no queueing, and no screaming babies, and I don't have to bag my own (which is standard here...good luck finding the nice little old man like you have at Lunds) and I don't have to haul it all into the house, and grocery shopping took no dedicated time...just the 10 minutes that I'll need to put it all away.

It's the little things that make life good, you know?

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