Instacart: A Free Personal Assistant?

story and photo By Danielle Allenbach

As a working mother I am, like many people, pressured for time to get everything done. If there is a shortcut somewhere, I’d like to find it, especially when it comes to getting a meal on the table for my family.

With every challenge there are supposed to be many solutions. Right? I am happy to share I have found a good one.

First the challenge: My daughter was home sick from school and I was caught off guard having to work from home with very few items in our refrigerator. What will we eat?

Enter Publix Instacart: your online solution for the busy person with no time to walk through a grocery store. But I was wondering how instant is it? And will they have what I want?

The answers I found were, not instant but pretty quick and yes! I found everything I needed with only one mistake.

First, it’s easy to find Instacart through google.  Just click on the links and choose the option of a Two Week Free Trial with Free Delivery on all $35 plus orders.

The next screen surprisingly offered not just Publix but Kroger, ALDI and a few other stores I didn’t expect, including Petco and CVS Pharmacy.

After entering my address, the system confirmed they would deliver to my house and could arrive within 2 hours. I better get dressed!

All of a sudden, I felt giddy. It was like I had a personal shopper, but will they do a good job? Will they be able to find the exact groceries my family has grown used to? There was one way to find out. Start shopping!

Once you’re in you can see everything sectioned off by departments, just like in the store: Produce, Dairy & Eggs, Bakery, Frozen, and so on. When you click on any department you see the actual product down to a salmon fillet or a pound of ground beef or a variety of apple your family loves.

By searching each department, I found everything I needed, and hit only one snag. They didn’t have my family’s favorite ice cream bars pictured. I thought … Gotcha! But, then I used their search bar and by entering the brand, the bars came right up. A picture of the box! I placed my final order which included items from many departments. I had selected grapes, oatmeal, salmon, chicken, kale salad, make-up removing cloths, and frozen ice cream bars. I was really testing to see if they would arrive frozen.

Turns out the oats were my only mistake… more on that later.

Back to check out. It went smoothly. I was surprised they had Apple pay as an option and when I hit purchase it immediately pinged my phone asking me to confirm the amount. Too easy I was thinking … where’s the catch?

Now my question was, will they arrive in 2 hours? I stopped wondering when I heard from Larry, my personal shopper. He texted me to tell me he was shopping for me at Publix and if I had forgotten an item, I could let him know and he would add it to the ticket. It was like Larry was a mind-reader. I forgot the cheese!

Now I am even giddier waiting to see what comes to my door. Larry arrived with bags in hand about 40 minutes later. He said he’s been out all morning and that I was his 5th stop of the day! It was only noon when he arrived.

How have all these other people known about this super time cheater and not told me?

So did I get all my items and were they exactly what I ordered? There was one modification, but I was expecting it. Larry had texted me that they didn’t have boneless skinless chicken thighs in the Publix brand so he was buying me the grass fed ones. No big deal!

The only other difference turned out to be my operator error. I thought I was buying a large container of Publix Old Fashioned Oats but I had picked the small container because they looked the same online. 

So this was an extraordinary experience and leaves me feeling optimistic, like there  is a lot more help in the world than I thought.  It’s like the best kept secret that’s no longer a secret. So the next time you don’t have time to shop, why not try having your groceries delivered to your home by a personal assistant of sorts that doesn’t require a 1099.

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