Environmental Nutrition: Is online grocery shopping for you?
Turning to the internet to shop for groceries has turned from trend to typical. One study found that more than 70% of consumers made an online grocery purchase within a three-month period of 2022, and more than half have increased their online shopping in the last year.
With a simple log in to your phone app or computer, you can drop items into your cart and have them ready to pick up or be delivered to your door within hours. It can save time and is certainly convenient, but what about cost and quality? EN is here to help you decide if online grocery shopping is right for you.
Pro: Taking stock of your food inventory, making a shopping list, navigating traffic to the market, walking the aisles, waiting in line, checking out, and driving home to unload your week’s groceries, and then putting them away — that’s a lot of time!
When you shop online, you pull up your shopping list, which the app remembers from last week, and quickly re-add weekly staples, like milk, bread, and apples. Less time shopping outside the home means more time for more important things, like family, leisure or work.
Con: There will be an initial time commitment, as you do research to find the app you like, whether it’s your current grocery store or a service that shops for you. You’ll also need to create an account and learn to navigate the site.
Pro: Avoiding impulse buys can be a cash saving advantage to online shopping. There’s no temptation to grab those items you didn’t know you needed, which means it’s easier to stick to your shopping list and stay within budget.
The ability to comparison shop for quality and price is another advantage. You can easily compare prices by unit on different brands, or you can jump between different grocery store sites to see whether you’re getting the best deals. There are often online offers, including coupons, to help keep costs down. The best incentive to stay on budget? The app keeps a running total as you add items to your digital cart. If you go over budget, simply remove a less essential item. If you opt for delivery, you’ll save money on gas too.
Con: Watch out for usage and delivery fees. There are ways to reduce or eliminate delivery fees, such as joining a subscription service, buying a minimum dollar amount of groceries, taking advantage of special offers, or simply picking up your groceries curbside.
Pro: Full schedules, illness, caretaking — there are many situations that make online grocery shopping a huge convenience, even a necessity. The ability to stay home, when you’re not well or when a loved one needs constant attention, makes online shopping ideal, presenting the choice to shop for groceries, or use that time to make that deadline at work, go to the gym, or practice much needed self-care.
Con: If you want to select your own fresh items, like produce and fish, for the best quality, online shopping may not be for you. Although most services guarantee quality, some shoppers opt to shop for perishables in person, while going online for other items.
(Environmental Nutrition is the award-winning independent newsletter written by nutrition experts dedicated to providing readers up-to-date, accurate information about health and nutrition in clear, concise English. For more information, visit www.environmentalnutrition.com.)
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