Food City Grocery Delivery with Instacart — Unpaid Review

30 Oct

Last night, a friend posted on Facebook that she had tried the new-to-our-area Food City grocery delivery service through Instacart, and it took NO twisting of my arm to jump on this.  On Mondays, the 3 little boys and I stay home all day which means that in order to get any groceries, I have to dress them, load them into car seats, go to the store, unload them into a buggy, shop, check out, reload them into car seats, put the groceries in the car, drive home, unload kids and groceries, and then put the food up.  If you think I enjoy that process, then I’ve got some property I’d like to sell you.

With milk running low in our fridge, temperatures in the 30’s, and kids happily playing, today was a great day to test this service.  I put the laptop on my kitchen bar and set to work.  I added a few things that I knew we needed (milk, coffee creamer, and shredded cheese) but as I combed through our fridge and pantry, I found several more things to add that weren’t even on my list.  I ended up with 13 items in my cart and set off into checking out.  The process was very simple overall, but I wanted to share a few notes on the pros, cons, and some things to consider or remember for anyone else who is interested in trying this service out for themselves.

(Also, let me note that this is a post that I am writing totally independently–other than a link I can share for credit when friends try this, I am getting no compensation for writing this.)

STORE: Food City

I very rarely shop at Food City, to be quite honest.  I have an ALDI and a Wal-mart 3.5 miles from me that I go to frequently where as the closest FC to my house is 5 miles away in a direction that I don’t tend to go.  ALDI consistently brings me in with low prices, and Wal-mart has such a huge selection compared to a traditional grocer so they are my usual “go-to” places.  (Plus, my husband passes them on the way home which makes it easy to send a “I need something on your way home from work” text for those spots.)

SELECTION: Brand variety

For the most part, I was pleased with the variety of brands and options for the items I searched for.  I was a tad disappointed that many of the store brand items did not have pictures like the name brand items did.  It took a little more time to make sure I was getting exactly what I wanted considering I couldn’t rely on a photo as much.  I think this will get better with time though as the service remembers items I’ve previously purchased.

PRICE: Individual items

As far as I could tell, the items were priced like they are in the brick and mortar store or were very close.  I’ve never associated FC with having the lowest prices around across the board, though, so I know there were a few things that were a bit more than I am used to paying at other places.

DISCOUNTS: Value Card & Credits

At the check out, there was a place to add my FC loyalty card number which lowered the price of my total by about $10.  I assume that on future orders, this will be reflected on individual prices as I am shopping.  Also, I received a $10 discount from using an individual’s shopping link.  (When you share your link, others can get the discount and you can receive up to $50 in credit yourself.)  Lastly, if I used my debit card for the purchase instead of a credit card, I received an additional 1% off of my order.  Yes, please!

FEES: Added at check out

Because this was my first time using this service, my delivery fee was waived which was a huge plus. According to the Instacart website, future delivery fees will be determined by order size and delivery time.  (So, a big order with a short turn around would cost more.)  There was also a Service & Tip amount that was automatically set to 10% of my order total.  You have the option to change this, and I did.  Because I went through an individual’s personal link, I received a $10 discount, and since my Service fee was smaller than that discount, I bumped it up to the 10 bucks.  The service fee is split evenly between anyone who works on the order, and let’s face it–this is a capitalistic society and if no one makes any money off of this venture, then there is no incentive to continue it.  (Plus my mother is a part of what she calls the “ministry of excessive tipping” which I tend to gravitate towards too.  If I can make someone else’s day a smidge better with a few extra bucks, I’m gonna.)

(Optional side service note–There was an option at check out to purchase an additional service in which you pay a flat rate fee in exchange for no delivery fees for a period of time.  If you would be using this service frequently, this could very well be worth exploring.)

UPDATES: Text & Email

Once I placed my order, I immediately received an email with a link to track the progress.  A few minutes later, I received a text to let me know that my shopper Jennifer had started collecting my items.  During the shopping process, I received texts about 2 different items I had requested that were out of stock.  I was given a link to visit to find replacement items.  One of the things was a food item that I need to look at carefully because one of my children is on a restricted diet due to a metabolic disease.  As I was trying to find the ingredients online for a replacement item, Jennifer actually texted me a picture of the item she suggested as a replacement.  I asked her about the ingredients and she sent me pictures of that part of the label.  She was super friendly and helpful!  Finally, I received a text saying that my delivery was on the way with an approximate delivery time.

OVERALL THOUGHTS: 

This was a very positive experience, and I imagine that I will probably use it again in the future. Will it be my first choice? No, probably not.  If I can get to the store myself, I will.  Or if I have the time to wait for curbside pick up and avoid the delivery fees, then I will.  However, this service will be super handy for days when the weather isn’t great, and I just don’t want to get out with kiddos.

CONSIDERATIONS: 

How much is your time worth?  If you have lots of free time or really enjoy grocery shopping, then this might not appeal to you.  (Also, if you fall into those categories, then you might want to consider working for Instacart!)  However, I loved the fact that I was able to get groceries without losing the time it would have taken otherwise because I was able to do laundry, load the dishwasher, and help the children with various tasks around the house.  Yes, in the long run, I may pay more out of pocket right now, but if it saves some of my sanity or my time, then it may be worth it.  And something I didn’t think about until after my delivery–this created a job for someone.  Jennifer is a “Full-Service Shopper” which means that she is an independent contractor through Instacart so I was able to help her earn extra money by using this service.

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National Dog Day

27 Aug

According to Timehop, I wrote the following on Twitter 3 years ago today:

It’s #NationalDogDay. We have no dog, just 5 kids. A dog would be much cleaner and quieter though. Much.

Despite my insisting that we needed no more mouths to feed in the Smith house, the kids have long wanted a dog and tried to bargain their way towards getting one.  You know what I mean–I promise I’ll feed it, walk it, clean up after it–but of course, Matt and I were smarter than believing that.  In fact, whenever the kids begged for a pet, I told them that to even consider it, they had to keep their rooms clean for 30 consecutive days before we would even discuss it.  They never made it past Day 5.

However (and of course you knew this was coming, else I wouldn’t have written this blog), several months ago Matt and I started discussing the possibility of getting a dog.  One of our big reasons for this was the twins.  Henry and Nolan absolutely have a stroke when a dog comes near them.  They have a distinct cry that we call the “dog cry” that they do only when a dog is in their eye sight.  But in the few times that the twins have actually been around a dog for more than 2 or 3 days at a time, the fear dissipates… until they aren’t around the dog for a while at which point we start back at square one.  So basically, we figure that the best way to get the twins over their fear of dogs is to expose them to one every day.

That said, there was a very particular list of qualities that were imperative for this dog.  For example, we wanted a house broken adult dog.  We are in the final days of potty training the twins, and there is NO part of me that wants to house break a dog.  Five kids can put a world of hurt on our house so a destructive puppy was not even worth attempting.  We wanted a “sturdy” dog–one that could withstand being outside for long stretches of time but wouldn’t jump the fence in our backyard.  I just didn’t want a full time inside dog.

For all of the times that Matt and I had talked over all of this, we kept dragging our feet on actually trying to find this dog.  We were not willing to pay more than a basic adoption fee, but the thought of going to a local shelter and trying to choose a dog was daunting.  We didn’t want to involve the kids until the last minute because I knew that they would get impatient if the right dog was hard to find.  And I didn’t want to walk into a room full of dogs and each child get their hopes up on a dog that might not be a good fit for us.  I just kept thinking that surely the perfect dog for us would appear somehow, fall into our figurative laps.

Nine days ago, I decided that I would put out feelers on Facebook.  I wrote a post listing out our qualification list just on the off chance that someone knew of a dog somewhere who was exactly what we were looking for.  As I expected, people had suggestions on breeds and local shelters.  But one friend’s reply was exactly what I was praying for.  A friend had contacted her earlier that day about help in finding a new home for a dog whose family was moving to an apartment and couldn’t take him along.

My friend added me to a FB group message with her friend who then added in the dog’s owner.  And after reading our picky list, he said Max was absolutely all of those things.  Within less than 2 hours from my post, I was texting with him to set up a time to meet Max.  Matt ended up being unable to go meet our new dog, so I took the 5 kids alone.  I was very vague about where we were going and why, but by the end of the visit, the 3 older kids were thrilled with the idea of Max possibly living with us.

The next day, we made it official.  We were getting a dog!  His family took him to the vet and got his vaccinations up to date and had a few days to say their goodbyes.  I felt badly for them in knowing how much they will miss their dog, but they assured us that they knew this would be a wonderful home for their beloved friend.

Max has been here for less than 2 full days, and thankfully, the twins are already much less fearful.  And to see how much the older kids love and dote on him has been so sweet.  I know that the newness will fade, and the responsibilities will frustrate them.  But I can already tell that we hit the jackpot with this big old boy.  Since he is an older adult dog, I don’t know how long we will end up having with Max, but we will love every minute of it, I am sure!

max

Stupid Eclipse…

22 Aug

Well, today was the day.  The highly anticipated solar eclipse finally happened, and because we live so close to the path of totality, the children’s school was cancelled because why not.  And, today was Matt’s first day back to work which worked out super conveniently for him.

We were out late last night so I had hoped that maybe the children would sleep in a little this morning.  But you know what they say about assuming.

6 o’clock this morning, Norah climbed into our bed.  10 minutes later, here came Aaron.  By 6:30, they were both getting dressed for the day.  And of course, Aaron had to turn a light on to find clothes and woke Isaac up.  So yay for that.  Isaac crawled into bed with me, and I was determined to stay in bed for as long as possible.

At some point close to 7, I became aware of the front door open a few times, and I heard discussions (loudly near the sleeping twins’ door) between Norah and Aaron debating about sitting on the front porch versus riding their bikes in the driveway.  As Matt finished getting ready, I knew that he would head down soon and be able to make sure they were on the straight and narrow.

7:10 a.m. and Matt informs me that he just found our two oldest kids AT THE NEIGHBOR’S FRONT DOOR.  The little boy that lives there and told them all summer not to wake him up until 9:15 got his doorbell rung just after 7.  Oh, Matt and I were livid.

We called the kids back to the house in horror.  One of them wasn’t wearing shoes, the other was parading up the road in a bathing suit, and they both had dewy grass plastered to their legs.  And the poor little neighbor boy was slowly and sleepily trudging up the hill towards our house just in time to hear us reminding our kids that they were supposed to have done some chores before playing with anyone anyway!  They woke that kid up for naught!

I kissed Matt goodbye and headed up to work on getting myself ready for the day.  And by getting ready, I mean I was going to brush my hair and put enough deodorant on to cover up any stink.  In the short amount of time it took me to do that, Aaron apparently felt like he had cleaned enough.  He was pretty disappointed when I pointed out that everything he had shoved under his bed actually needed to come out and be put away.

Tears, begging, bargaining.  “But Mom, no one will ever even see it under there!”

After convincing him that I would not budge, I walked out of his room to see the previously mentioned next door neighbor boy PLUS the little girl from across the street.  And I honestly don’t know how my children managed to do it, but they conned those kids into helping clean the boys’ room so that they could all go out and play together faster.

Good news, folks… this story has a happy ending because by 8 o’clock, the 3 older kids were all across the street playing at someone else’s house.  And they managed to stay there for 80% of the day.

Plus, most importantly… they go back to school tomorrow!

(Just in case anyone thinks I am totally cold and heartless which it comes to my kids, I did sob unmercifully tonight at a commercial about kids growing up and had a slight panic attack at the thought of them getting older and leaving the house!)

Summer nights

3 Jul
It’s a Sunday evening in July and the air is hot, sticky, humid.
A water balloon war is raging at the house across from ours where 3 of my children are in the proverbial trenches with 6 other kids and 2 really fun dads.
One son, as if Paul Revere, runs up the hill and yells out a warning of an impending invasion from just beyond the driveway.
I’m sitting to the side listening to the laughter and screaming and battle cries.
I watch the hiding, running, chasing, throwing.
A few mosquitoes swarm, and I wipe perspiration from my face.
And I smile with the prickling of tears in my eyes, tears of happiness, of gratitude, of bliss.
Today, in this minute, there is peace in my soul, a satisfaction from the Lord that I too frequently let pass me by in the hectic days of my life.
Tonight, they play with innocence, safe under the watchful eyes of Mom and Dad, happy to play and be carefree and have fun.
Tomorrow, they will grow older and taller and hopefully wiser and leave this street to make their mark on the world and start their own lives and families.
But hope builds in my heart that maybe, just maybe, those grown babes of mine will remember the water and the friends and the euphoria of the hot summer nights of their childhood.

Where I’m From

9 Mar

I recently read a blog post from Beth Woolsey in which her son wrote a “Where I’m From” poem for school and then feeling inspired, she wrote one.  As someone who loves to write, I was excited by the idea and decided to do it for myself.  When I thought back especially on my childhood, all I could think of were wonderful, joyful feelings.  How blessed to remember my life in that way!  (And as Beth did, I strayed a bit from the template.)

Where I’m From

I am from smiles and joy, from Sonic ice and eating out, Big Red and back rubs.

I am from warmth and laughter, from hospitality and manners, from the genuine.

I am from the pine trees and the lake, the small towns and curvy, winding roads, from mosquitoes big enough to carry you and storms that will scare you.

I am from so many stories and lots of loud talking, from McGraw and Myers and Rogers, from teachers and preachers who seem to know everyone.

I am from thoughtfulness and cards full of underlined words and handwritten letters, bending over backwards, from hosting and cooking and sharing.

From “Jesus Loves Me” and “You are loved” and prophetic words.

I am from church every Sunday, mission trips, and youth trips, from true salvation and never-ceasing prayers and walking among giants.

I’m from the south, first from the flat, wooded places and now the hills and mountains.  From both the neighborhoods and the country.

From the Billy letters, the peanut brittle, the barbecued meat, the man who cannot slow down, and the prayers of a righteous woman.

I am from feeling loved and valued, from hectic and loud but feeling total bliss in the chaos, from deep, overwhelming peace in the soul.

The unexpected and often unfair

17 Jan

I love that Facebook shows me memories every day of my posts from previous years.  There is such joy in seeing pictures or videos of my children when they were younger, and I get a laugh out of reading stories of the funny things that they said or did.  Even when the memory isn’t a pleasant one, I am thankful to realize that I survived that sad or disappointing time and that God has provided for me since in ways beyond my comprehension then.

This morning, I was reminded that I announced my pregnancy with Isaac to the Facebook world 5 years ago today, and then shared the news about the twins 3 years ago today too.  Both of those pregnancies were unplanned and quite unexpected.  Matt and I had a hard time adjusting to them in many ways.  But, all three of those boys were (and are!) wanted and loved and adored.  I wouldn’t want to live life without them, but they are reminders that I cannot control things.  Seeing the joy and enrichment they bring to my life, I am thankful that God had plans beyond my own.  Isaac, Henry, & Nolan are the best examples to me of the happiness that the unexpected can bring.

I was reminded this weekend though at how unfair life is and how the unexpected can be full of sorrow.  On Sunday morning at church, sweet friends were sharing their testimony of God’s grace, and part of that journey involved infertility and miscarriages.  They remarked that they were watching people get pregnant and give birth around them and grieved as they walked a different and heartbreaking road than others they loved.  Similarly, dear cousins of mine have spent years going through failed fertility treatments and devastating losses in attempts to expand their own family.  They have watched family and friends celebrate new life while being crushed by the pain of their own despair.

I cannot even tell you how gut wrenching it makes me feel to know that while people I love were mourning, Matt and I were having children at a ridiculous rate without even trying.  Sure, I had suffered from 2 previous miscarriages, but that didn’t help their grieving hearts in that moment.  To have added to their pain even without meaning to makes me nauseous, and I won’t even pretend to understand what that feels like because it truly is beyond my comprehension.

Life this side of heaven will never be fair, and I know in the cliche Bible belt “God is in control and working things to your good” way that there are reasons for everything that we cannot grasp.  But, it doesn’t make me any less disappointed to see precious people have their reality altered by it all.  And there is no point to all of this rambling except maybe to draw your attention to the world around you.  On your best or worst of days, there will be all manner of triumph or defeat, both near and far.  Find a way to lovingly embrace those around you regardless of your paths and laugh and weep together.

And to those who have suffered even a moment of grief from the circumstances of our family… I’m more sorry than you will ever know.

Here we go again, sort of

18 Jul

After last fall’s health scare, my doctors and I made the decision to have my yearly mammogram/ultrasound and my MRI staggered so that I could be imaged more often to potentially catch any malignancy very early.

Last week, I had my yearly MRI, and it took a few days before I heard the results. However, when I answered the phone and was speaking directly to the radiologist instead of to a nurse, I knew immediately that she had found something.  Just like in the past, the issues are in my left breast. There are two areas of abnormalities near the sight of my surgical biopsy last year, one to the left and one in front. So, I am scheduled for an MRI guided biopsy of those areas on July 28th.

In some sense, I feel right back where we were less than a year ago when this journey started, but in other ways, I feel more confident in where we are heading. I think there is a big possibility that this is the same LCIS from before that didn’t get removed during surgery and is spreading out. However, the only way to know is obviously to get it biopsied.

Please be praying for continual strength and rest for Matt and me as we wait for the biopsy and results. We believe in His sovereign goodness and rejoice in God our Savior!

Love always,

bas