How to navigate the world of online grocery shopping

Avoid the crowds, germs by ordering online

MADISON, Wis. — The online grocery shopping industry is booming right now. With people avoiding crowds and buying online, you might find it harder to get what your family needs. But you do have options! Consumer experts suggest ordering from the comfort of your couch.

If you’re new to ordering online, here are three things to consider:

1. Decide where to order from. South-central Wisconsin has several choices. (Click on store name to be redirected to online delivery services.)

Instacart also offers shopping and delivery from multiple stores, including Aldi, Target, Festival Foods, Piggly Wiggly, and more. Weigh your options by comparing the delivery time windows available. Some stores have limited options, and with more people shopping online, they’re filling up fast!

2. Be patient and refresh your Internet browser frequently. Shopping online for groceries has become a lot like shopping for concert tickets. Refresh your page every hour or if you’re hunting for an in-demand product, like hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes. One tip that’s great for night owls? Start ordering at midnight. That’s when lots of stores reassess their inventory and not only add new products, but new delivery times too.

3. Opt for curbside pickup, if you’re hoping to save money and are able to drive. Not only does this option give you longer pickup windows to grab your goods, but stores will waive your delivery fee and limit your contact with others. Plus, you might see that there are more pickup time slots open than delivery slots, which increases your likelihood of getting your groceries sooner.

Still having trouble getting a grocery delivery? You’re not alone. Try a grocery store alternative:

The Dane County Farmers’ market is closed, but local producers can still help you get what you need through their pilot local food pick-up program on Wednesday’s from 3 to 6:30 pm at the Garver Feed Mill. Customers place their pre-orders with each individual farmer by 7 p.m. Tuesday night, and then on Wednesday, they drive up and the participating farmers place orders right into customer’s trunks. Many farmers are offering bundled deals, too, to help you maximize your purchase.

Wisconsinites can also try ordering boxes of fresh produce. Produce delivery services like Imperfect Foods and Misfits Market will deliver a variety of “ugly” fruits and vegetables, and even some non-perishables, to your door. Even though you can’t select the exact produce on your list, it’s a good option to experiment in the kitchen, lower food waste, and order some fresh goods.

Meal kit delivery services are also an option, including Blue Apron and Hello Fresh. Those two are reporting record sales right now. The Madison area has a local option, too, called Isthmus Eats.