grocery shopping online from Walmart picking up groceries all loaded into the back of a car

8 Ways Online Grocery Shopping Can Actually Help You Save Money

There are few things more annoying than stopping at the supermarket to pick up a few things, hauling bags of groceries into the house only discover you have nothing for dinner. Or putting everything away only to realize you totally forgot the one thing that prompted you to stop at the store in the first place.

Online grocery shopping isn’t for everyone. But if you are prone to impulse shopping or regularly go way over what you intended to spend on groceries for the week—even though you came prepared with a list and a stack of coupons to go with it—shopping for your groceries online might actually save you money. And time.

These are the ways that online grocery shopping has become a total game-changer for many.

Stop the impulse buys

There’s something about a grocery store that opens the door to my inner-6-year-old. Oh look! Donuts, flowers … fresh corn on the cob! Wow, I forgot I need a new Bundt pan. Adding two grandsons to our family has only increased my impulsivity in our town’s mega-supermarket, which curiously has a big toy department. My best intentions are tested and rarely come out the winner.

But discovering online grocery shopping—I don’t have to even walk into the place—has put my inner impulsive self into an extended period of hibernation.

Finding the best option

I’m still stunned by how cool it is to sit at home with my phone or laptop and have the entire contents of a very large supermarket right there, in front of me. I can search for, let’s say “yeast,” and realize I have multiple options. Who knew?

In-store, when I have yeast on my list, I find three kinds in the baking aisle. But online? There are actually 8 options—some of them not in the baking aisle at all.

Online, I can see all of the options together on one screen. And I can easily see which is on sale. I can compare the unit price, I can zoom in on the product label. In only a matter of seconds, I have everything I need to know to make the best choice. I feel smarter and as frugal as I want to be. It really is amazing.

Perfect execution by a reliable assistant

I have friends who insist they’d never participate in online grocery shopping because “Who wants to let someone else pick out my produce or select the right roast or chicken?” Well, I would! And only because I’ve tested, tried, and found that I end up with better results when I have a reliable assistant working for me.

I don’t know why, but when I try to find the best avocados, they’re not always that great. When I pick up my groceries and discover what my shopping assistant selected for me, regularly I am amazed.

Maybe they keep the best quality choices in the back for the “onliners?” I don’t know, but in more than three years of online grocery shopping in my local supermarket, I’ve never been disappointed. Actually, I’m happy I can’t touch the produce. I know me. Once I touch it, I might as well own it for how impulsive I can be. But online, I stipulate only what I need in the exact weight or number—and that is exactly what I get.

Seeing my real balance, not an estimate

Sitting in front of my computer placing items into my online cart, I can see the running total and at the same time see exactly what’s in my cart. I don’t have to keep that running estimate in my head. I don’t get that unexpected surprise at checkout.

Shopping online I can “put things back” easily with a single click without holding up a line or feeling super embarrassed. I can change my mind a dozen times—and I do. I know I’m not going to end up with a lot of things I won’t actually use.

Getting what I need without feeling pressured

Sitting at home, it’s easy to plan the week’s menus without all the distractions, samples, and displays. I can check my pantry, fridge, and freezer so I’m not re-buying what I have already. I have this sense of freedom and the time to make good choices. I can read recipes, price ingredients, change my mind right up until I check out.

Taking full advantage of deals and coupons

My supermarket, King Soopers, which is part of the Kroger family of stores, has all kinds of deals going on that change every week. And I can stack those sales and deals with any manufacturer’s coupons I might have. They make it so easy.

That spark of joy

I’m talking about that feeling of being super organized. I get that spark with online grocery shopping. The way my shopping cart is organized as I fill it is right there on the side of my screen with everything so tidy and organized.

Then, when I arrive to pick up my groceries, the nicest people come out with everything organized according to frozen, refrigerated; cans together, produce carefully packed in separate bags, and so forth. I pop open the back door of my car, and everything is carefully loaded into the car. They hand me my receipt and that’s it.

While stores now offer both delivery and pickup options, I opt for pickup. If my order is more than $35 total, the pickup fee is waived. Part of the online checkout process includes making an appointment for the day and time I want to pick up my order. At the appointed time, I pull into one of the special parking spaces reserved just for Pickup and either call the phone number on the sign or use the app to let them know I have arrived.

Reasonable fees, if any

Walmart and Kroger* are national chains offering online grocery shopping. Both offer either pickup, where you have an appointed time to pick up your order, or home delivery. During checkout, customers choose a designated store to visit and select a timeslot to pick up their orders.

A man riding on the back of a car

There is a standard $4.95 fee for Kroger stores (waived in some locations with a minimum order of $35). There is a $35 minimum purchase requirement for all Walmart grocery orders and pickup is always free. Both Kroger and Walmart have policies that their employees are not allowed to accept tips.

Delivery fees vary, so check carefully before you opt for home delivery. Tipping the delivery driver is customary, so make sure you add this in as part of your overall delivery expense.

I have opted for online home delivery only one time, which was at Costco. One year during Christmas holidays, I was especially slammed for time with a big event breathing down my neck. This is how it works at my local Costco: I placed my order online (food items only; I couldn’t put a 72-inch TV into my cart) then Costco summoned Inst-Cart to send a shopper to fetch my items with a promise of a 2-hour delivery.

This shopper texted me as she arrived at the store, even making me aware that one of my items was not available and offering a reasonable substitute. Once she had checked out she texted again that she was on her way with an estimated time of arrival.

My Insta-Cart shopper carried everything into the house, making things even easier than I expected, It was a flawless experience as grocery delivery goes, for a delivery fee of $13.95. That, plus a 20% tip, made the overall fee much higher than my regular pickup service at King Soopers. Still, it saved my bacon at a time I really needed a reliable assistant. I found the experience to be well worth the additional fee.

* The Kroger Co. Family of Stores includes:

  • Baker’s
  • City Market
  • Dillons
  • Food 4 Less
  • Foods Co
  • Fred Meyer
  • Fry’s
  • Gerbes
  • Harris Teeter
  • King Soopers
  • Jay C Food Store
  • Kroger
  • Owens Market
  • Pay-Less Super Markets
  • QFC
  • Ralphs
  • Smith’s Food and Drug
  • Albertson’s


More from Everyday Cheapskate

Portrait of cheerful family at restaurant
meat loaf with vegetables close-up on a cutting board. horizontal
a plate of Pasta Mama from the acclaimed restaurante Hugos in West Hollywood CA
Interior of the Costco store in Tigard Oregon
how to store dry fresh and cooked pasta
Happy family celebrating New Years Eve at home with kids, sitting by the Christmas tree, holding sparklers and illuminative numbers 2023 representing the upcoming New Year
Hot chocolate mug with marshmallow
butter along side a knife that has cut it into small pieces sitting on a black cutting board
caramel corn collage

Please keep your comments positive, encouraging, helpful, brief,
and on-topic in keeping with EC Commenting Guidelines

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Caught yourself reading all the way 'til the end? Why not share with a friend.

23 replies
Newer Comments »
  1. Luisa says:

    I truly love grocery shopping, but have used Kroger for curbside pickup for over a year now. During the pandemic they have waived the $5 fee, so I tip the folks who bring my groceries to my car the $5. I can text them when I’m leaving my house and they are ready as soon as I pull in.
    I have had good luck with their substitutions, and they charge the original price if they make a more expensive substitution. A couple of times when they’ve said there was no substitution, I talked on the phone with an associate and found there was. They let me know before I arrive if they’re out of something and give me the option of substituting or not.
    The produce, originally my biggest concern, has been consistently good, and dairy and meat have had good expiration dates. They shop like I do!
    I love Kroger, and they have further insured my loyalty by the wonderful job they’ve done helping us all during the pandemic.

  2. Brenda says:

    I LOVE Walmart pickup! I have no plans to ever go back to doing my grocery shopping myself. The app is so user friendly ( I have tried a couple other grocery store apps and I found them hard to navigate).
    When I think of something I need I add it to my list. At some point when I’m meal planning I decide what I need and add more items to my list. When I decide I am ready to pick up my order I choose the date and time. So easy! Plus the added bonus of only having to lift heavy bags once to carry in! I’m sold!!!

    • Lynne says:

      I go one step further. I make an order for the amount needed and schedule it a couple days out. That way I can add to it as late as 1:45 am the day of pick up. It never fails that I have forgotten something on the original order and it is no problem to add it. I also like it that it keeps the your cart so as you run out if things, you can just add it.

  3. Rhonda M says:

    I use the local Kroger affiliate (Dillons) and love being able to see exactly what product a coupon applies towards…or sometimes I have forgotten to clip the coupon in the first place. Also since I am a loyal shopper, they will randomly give me high value coupons. The last few I have received were $18.00 off of an $180 purchase which translates to a 10% discount. The total must be $180 after sales and other coupons are applied. I use these coupons to stock up on things such as dog food, paper goods or coffee to add up to the $180. Every little bit helps when prices are creeping up.

  4. Kay Jones says:

    One thing I have also enjoyed with online shopping is having the heavier items picked and loaded in my car. When you are older and not as mobile the act of taking things off the shelf, put into a cart, taken out of the cart to put on the movable belt, loaded back into the cart after being paid for, loaded in my trunk, taken from the trunk into my house………….!!! I now only have to take things from my trunk into my house. Little things help my life.

  5. Kay Jones says:

    I have not had that problem at Wal-Mart if I allow substitutions. The have substituted more expensive brand names for the Wal-Mart brand and given me a larger sized Best Foods mayonnaise when out of the smaller size. All at the lower price. The only time I had a problem was substituting pate style cat food for chunky in the same brand and flavor. Fussy cat wasn’t happy.

  6. Pat C says:

    I’ve been ordering my groceries online and picking them up at the store for the past 12 months. I admit that I do miss wondering around the store seeing what’s new. But as long as our covid case numbers remain high and our ICUs are over flowing, I’m not setting foot inside a store. I’ve had a couple of interesting very small snafus. Never anything major. If there’s a substitute they get my ok and a couple of times when they said they were out of something and I mentioned a possible substitute that they hadn’t though of, they just had someone run to the aisle and grab is. Overall I’m very pleased. I also found that a Tuesday afternoon pickup works well. (I’m retired. If I were still working, I’d schedule a Tuesday after work/evening pickup.) Thurs-Sun they’re really busy. Monday they may be sold out of things but by Tuesday afternoon, they’re usually back in stock.

    • Jana says:

      Great tip about shopping on Tuesday, hadn’t thought of that and i hate when they don’t have what i want!! Thank you!

  7. JudyinAZ says:

    I have used Fry’s(Kroger store) and Walmart in my area of Southern AZ for preordering and drive up/pick up shopping. I imagine it varies from location to location but I have received perfect, efficient service from my Walmart store And always problem ridden, long wait times, less than pleasurable experiences at Fry’s. I always fill out my online opinion forms and try to be positive yet honest in my comments. I believe they are listening to those and are trying harder to do a better job or continue with good service where applicable. I encourage you to fill out those surveys faithfully and see the results. I have also saved hundreds of dollars in purchases by using this method as Mary has shared. Any disadvantages you encounter are far surpassed by the benefits received! I believe this kind of shopping experience is a money, time and waste saver and that if stores are smart they will keep, and beef up this option for us happy shoppers forever more!

  8. Lottie Parker says:

    my only problem with online shopping is, if they don’t have what brand I asked for, they don’t always substitute something. if you’re in the store, you will make that decision quickly

    • Kay Jones says:

      I have not had that problem at Wal-Mart if I allow substitutions. The have substituted more expensive brand names for the Wal-Mart brand and given me a larger sized Best Foods mayonnaise when out of the smaller size. All at the lower price. The only time I had a problem was substituting pate style cat food for chunky in the same brand and flavor. Fussy cat wasn’t happy.

    • Kay Jones says:

      WalMart has substituted the more expensive name brand items for the WalMart brands when they were out. They also substituted larger size jars of Best Foods Mayo when they were out of the smaller size, all at the lower price. If you check the do not substitute box they won’t substitute. Only problem I had was with cat food. Fussy cat didn’t like the substitution for the same brand, same flavor for a different texture. Not dealing with the crowds was my main reason for trying it but I plan to continue using it.

  9. Kat says:

    I agree. Online grocery shopping saves me a lot of money and costs only $4.95. No impulse buying, great meat and produce selections and a saved shopping list that I can delete or add to as I need. Such a time saver!

  10. Rachel D says:

    FYI – Ruler Foods is also a Kroger owned store. We love our local Ruler Foods just wish they had more selections at the produce and meat sections. Prices are even cheaper than our local Aldi and we love the Kroger brand of most items.

Newer Comments »

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *