I’ve spent the last few months using 3 local grocery pick up (curbside, clicklist, etc) services to compare them on cost, savings, accuracy and simplicity of use.
I’ll be comparing HEB (a Texas chain); Kroger and Wal-Mart.
Cost for the service is $4.95 but it’s free right now on Wed, Thurs and Fri but that’s ending on Dec 14th; Deli meats and cheeses, as well as some spices, can be weighed in small increments, so you don’t have to buy in pounds only; Produce is usually pretty good, though you need to be really specific if you want something “ripe” or “green” or else you may get avocados that won’t be ripe for a year; HEB does carry some more unusual things, like chicken necks and feet(for bone broth), oxtails, a wide variety of their own brand, a big selection of natural and organic foods as well as a really good seafood and grass fed protein section. Cost: most things are slightly less expensive than Kroger, but the variety of products from other countries, especially Mexico, are much better. In all honestly, their beef tends to taste better as well. While HEB does have some online coupons you can apply, a lot of their specials are “in-store” coupons and they do NOT apply to curbside orders, so you can’t take advantage of them. Where HEB coupons and specials do have an advantage over the others: you can see the savings in your cart immediately, not after the sale like Kroger does. This can be a benefit if you are budgeting or if you need to spend a certain amount to get things like fuel points(Kroger) or other store related perks. Cocinaware kitchen goods. This is a really good, but inexpensive line of bakeware, kitchen gadgets, etc. The 3 different HEB stores I’ve been to all have a nice selection, so if you run out of measuring spoons or you need a ladle or a mixing bowl, check this label out.
Added bonus: HEB also offers grocery delivery in my area. I’ve used it a few times and it’s great! The items you purchase have a small markup to cover the cost, and you have to pay for the service AND tip the delivery person, so it can add to your overall grocery cost quite a bit (say 5-6% overall) if you buy a lot. As an occasional option when you may be under the weather, or just have a small list, or when you know it’s going to be crazy at the store because of holidays or something, it’s nice to know it’s available.
Cost for the service is $4.95 Note system for specifying exactly what you want is very good. Produce is mostly organic and usually top quality. Very large digital coupon system that works for the curbside pickup. They are usually ready as soon as you get there, whereas HEB and Wal-mart can be a 15-20 minute wait. Many items have a Private Selection or Kroger brand equivalent that are very good, though not always much of a cost point difference. If I can get a name brand for $3, and the Kroger alternative is $2.99, I’m probably going with the name brand. SOME products have a big difference though and it’s well worth checking out if you usually buy a certain major brand. Locally they carry Nolan Ryan beef that is natural, antibiotic and hormone free. The Private Selection kettle cooked potato chips are better than Lays and other brands lol. Toilet tissue: their brand Home Sense mega rolls toilet tissue are better than Charmin. I am not kidding. And the rolls are bigger, over an inch taller than Charmin, so aside from being less expensive ($1-$4 per pack) you’re also getting an extra roll out of every 6 rolls because of the size difference. (HEB also has a very good store brand of mega rolls). The local Kroger is a big flagship store, so it has a HUGE selection of everything from kitchen small appliances to seasonal decorations, to clothing!, everyday things for grilling and cooking, etc. The deli is great. Big selection, although they only work in full pounds, you can note that you want less. It’s hit and miss on if they will do it, but I’ve had 2 out of 3 orders that were correct (1/3 pound of provolone sliced on #1 no paper between slices is my go-to to see if they can do it). Their ground beef is hit-and-miss on flavor. I’ve bought some great and some that didn’t have a beefy taste at all. They have been pretty good about substituting. Not as good as HEB, but good. Example: frozen shrimp was on sale, 1 pound bags buy 1-get 1 free. They were out of the 1 pound that were on sale and substituted a 2 pound bag for the same price, but when salmon was on sale for $4.99 a pound(frozen Atlantic not farm raised), they did not substitute the fresh salmon from the seafood counter, they just said they were out of stock. The pick-up area here is clearly marked and it’s in front, not around the side or back like HEB and wal-mart are. The fuel point bonus is worth it, to me. With $0.10 off per gallon for every $100 you spend (not rolled over, re-starts every month) you can really save quite a bit filling up there if you buy a lot of groceries.
Wal-Mart: least favorite
Ok this is probably JUST my local store, so take that into consideration lol. The pick up area is around the back side of the store and, even though it’s clearly marked, people still park in the few slots they have available for pick-up. That isn’t wal-mart’s fault, but they need to maybe ask people not to park there or something. When you call in to let them know you’re there (use the phone app instead, trust me), you may need to call back 2-3x to actually get them to bring your stuff out. Produce: not awful, but I seem to get stuff that is bruised, sometimes actually split(like tomatoes) or moldy, overripe and should have been tossed out not sold, or so under-ripe you could build a foundation with it. Substitutions: “we’re out”, “can’t locate”, “no longer carry”, “ran out”, and my favorite was ordering gluten free crackers and they substituted regular ones. I was not told of the substitution, but it was noted on the receipt. I told them no to a bread substitution, it was removed from my cart but not my bill, so I had to call twice to have that remedied, which was a little annoying. Overall, this service is pretty new (only a few months) so I may give them until after the Holidays to work out the kinks and try them again.
If you’re an “ooh that looks good!” shopper, you may not like not seeing/feeling the products first.
You can save money and budget pretty well using this kind of service.
You do miss out on some coupon savings, though it reads that all 3 that I mentioned are trying to incorporate more into their services.
You miss out on mark downs, which can = big savings, so if it’s a week you usually stock up on meats for the month (or whatever), you’re better off going in to the store.
Both HEB and Kroger offer a waved fee if you buy certain things or spend a certain amount, or there’s another special going on.
Not having to deal with shelf stockers being in the way, busy parking lots, crowded stores with long line, can make these services worth it for your mental health.
You can usually set a pick up time up to 3 days in advance, and Kroger allows you to adjust your order until midnight the night before your scheduled pickup, so it’s a nice option if you forgot something.