Today, out of sheer laziness, (I mean it’s raining and cold outside here in Orange County!) I discovered Instacart.
I had been wanting to get a bottle (or more!) of Lee Kum Kee Brown Braising Sauce and my plan was that I was going to pass by the 99 Ranch in Irvine after my son’s soccer game today. All is well until we were informed that the game is canceled as the fields were closed due to the rain. Great! Time for plan B, except that I didn’t have one.
I checked Amazon and a single bottle was $17+! Plus I would not get it today. I knew it was about $3 at the store, so I kept searching. Then Instacart popped up on my search.
There were several stores that I could shop at using the app that were close to my home. H Mart, Sprouts, Target, Gelson’s, Stater Brother’s, Ralph’s, Costco, Sam’s Club, Petco, Pavillion’s, Albertson’s, Aldi, Total Wine, CVS, Bevmo, Smart and Final, and Von’s.
Curious, I added things to my H Mart grocery cart that I would normally pick up at Asian grocery stores…mirin, radish, inari, gochujan….. If the item you want isn’t available, you could add a note for your shopper. I added a couple of items that weren’t available, my brown braising sauce being one of them! I added a note that I really need this. Let’s see if i will get it in my order.
It showed “Free delivery” for my order. By now my tab was around $60 for 10 items but still lower than if I go myself as I often pick things up that catches my eye even if I had no intention of buying it before I saw it. I hesitated for an hour or so, with my cart full of yummy ingredients, but afterward I clicked Place Order just to try it out. It was 11:47am.
You could chose 1, 2, or 5 hour delivery times, specific times, or days.
It showed that my delivery will be within 2 hours…the closest H mart is about 30 minutes away from home, so if I had to go, driving back and forth is going to be already at least 1 hour…finding a parking spot, shopping…checking out…I am starting to see the advantages of this service.
So then I looked at the fees..(I know! I should have done that first!) it was less than $3 for the service on this particular order plus at least 10% tip for the driver (it starts at 5%, but you could adjust it), it is still worth it. If you become an Instacart Express Member for $9.99 a month or $99 a year, any order above $35 is delivered for free and you can shop different stores per order! You can try it for free for 14 days, before deciding if you want it or not.
ADDING TO EXISTING ORDER
The app informed me that I could add to my order before the shopper begins shopping but I tried to add Kamaboko multiple times, in the app and on safari, in vain. I just kept getting a notice that states they were aware I was having problems.
Just now I got a message that my order is running behind and estimated it to be here by 2:00-2:30pm when it was originally 12:50-1:50pm. I still couldn’t add my kamaboko!
When your shopper starts going thru the store, the app will notify you their name. My shopper today was Jonah B. She asked, on the CHAT feature, if I would approve a replacement for an item I ordered. You could accept or decline. I chose accept for the Tonkatsu sauce.
Later, the radish was above the weight I asked for, so I was asked if it was okay. Sure! It happens.
And in the end the Brown Braising Sauce isn’t available. She messaged me that she asked and they said they do not have any braising sauce available. I asked her if I need to place a separate order at a different place, would that be a different transaction, and she said yes. I told her to just leave it out. I will keep the rest of the order.
Well, guess what? My very kind shopper went to 99 Ranch after asking me if I want it and got me my Lee Kum Kee Brown Braising Sauce – all 6 bottles! What a nice person! She actually made my day! I was so happy that when she said my order would be 30 minutes late because of it, I said “take your time, I am so happy right now, it doesn’t really matter!”
ON THE WAY TO YOU
After the shopping is done, you can follow your shopper in the app, and it shows real time location. My shopper was here a little past 2:30pm and I could not be more pleased with this new found service. Of course, even if the app states that tipping is optional, I gave her a good tip. It’s raining, and cold, and she went above and beyond helping me get those bottles of Braising sauce! I was preparing our lunch at home while she went out to collect my groceries!
The items I got were things I regularly buy so I know that the price on Instacart for these are comparable to me going to H Mart and picking it up myself. However, for some stores the price varies, sometimes higher and sometimes lower, than actual store price. I guess if you’ll use it a lot, you probably will be paying about the same as store price, some with inflated prices, and some with discounts.
I was going to use Instacart only this once, but I might just make this a back up for days like today! I believe there are some days when it is more than worth it to pay for this kind of service. I do have a few days like that a month (between my son’s school, homework, soccer, futsal, Taekwondo, science club, my full time job, a blog, a dog, the laundry, cooking, cleaning the house…) and knowing I still can get fresh, real ingredients for a minimal fee will reduce the stress of preparing meals at home.
I invite you to check Instacart.com out and hopefully you will find it useful on days when there isn’t enough time to do everything you have to do! I know I definitely did!
If you had used Instacart, let me know what you think in the comments section!