Is Instacart worth it? Picture this. You’re one month postpartum with your second child, it’s five months into a global pandemic, and you take your kids grocery shopping with you every Sunday afternoon.
I considered using Instacart for quite a while, but as someone who likes to stick to her budget, the cost never seemed worth it to me. And I can’t tell you how many people I asked — is Instacart worth it? — to see if there was a compelling reason to jump on it.
It wasn’t until June 2020 after the birth of our second child at the beginning of the pandemic that I finally signed up for Instacart.
Over the last several years I have become a big fan of Instacart, so let’s talk about it — is Instacart worth it? Why Instacart over other delivery services? What does your grocery bill look like? All of your questions are answered!
First, we’ll cover some of the general information on Instacart, if you don’t need those details, skip to the “Is Instacart worth the money?” section. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What is Instacart?
- How does Instacart compare to other delivery services? (Instacart vs. Shipt, Instacart vs. Doordash)?
- How much does Instacart cost?
- Is Instacart worth the money?
- Instacart pros and cons
- How to use the Instacart app like a pro
- How to sign up and get started
What is Instacart?
Instacart is a grocery delivery service. You order your items (like groceries, for example) through the Instacart app and a personal Instacart shopper will fulfill your order for delivery or pickup.
How does Instacart compare to other delivery services?
Today, there are many delivery service options, how does Instacart compare to the other options?
Instacart vs. Shipt
Out of all of the options, I would say Instacart is the most similar to Shipt.
In terms of Shipt vs. Instacart, I don’t have personal experience with Shipt, so I’ll keep the analysis to the hard facts. Truthfully, they are incredibly similar. Both companies have an app that connects you with a personal shopper to fulfill your order. Both companies have a subscription that runs at just under $100/year that takes care of delivery and service fees.
For me, picking between Instacart and Shipt came down to the stores that they partnered with. Instacart goes to Aldi and that’s our main grocery store so Instacart won.
Add your zip code to check out the list of stores Instacart partners with – the list keeps growing!
Instacart vs. Doordash
Unlike Shipt vs. Instacart, Doordash and Instacart are solutions to two different needs. Instacart partners with grocery stores and other retailers like Walgreens or Michaels. Doordash partners with restaurants, like your favorite local Chinese takeout or Chipotle.
If you want groceries, go to Instacart. If you want restaurant meals, go to Doordash.
How much does Instacart cost?
Fun fact: You don’t need a membership to use Instacart!
When you order without a membership you will get delivery and service fees added to your order. Most grocery items also have a markup just from ordering it through the app (that’s the part that really hung me up in the beginning!)
If you want to avoid the delivery and service fees you want to explore the paid membership options. Instacart+ (formerly known as Instacart Express), costs $99/year or $9.99/month.
When you sign up for Instacart+ that means that you get unlimited free deliveries on orders over $35 and reduced service fees.
I’m not sure where they get this number, but Instacart estimates that Instacart+ saves you, on average, $7 an order. Depending on how many times you order throughout the year, it ends up paying for itself. Since we place a grocery order weekly, the membership was a no-brainer for me.
*The service fee covers a broad range of operating costs including shopper operations, insurance, background checks, and Instacart Customer Experience.
Is Instacart worth the money?
Instacart+ worth it? YES. There are cases where Instacart+ isn’t worth the money, but if time is your biggest constraint — Instacart will feel like the biggest gift and is 100% worth it!!
I feel like using Instacart is a superpower for this season of motherhood. I have no idea how long I’ll end up using it because I’m one of those strange people that actually love grocery shopping, but I can’t imagine not having it right now.
Instacart plus worth it? YES. If you’re ready to sign up use code SNORDQUIST12418A for $40 off!!
Instacart pros and cons
Let’s get a little more specific on why Instacart is worth the money!
Benefits of Instacart
- Saves time that you would have spent driving to the grocery store, grocery shopping, and driving home.
- I don’t have to lug my children around the store! I had fun doing this with one child, I’m sure I wouldn’t feel the same way with three 🙂
- Less stress. I don’t know about you, but I’m constantly arranging what our day is going to look like and how we’re going to get everything we need to do in while still enjoying ourselves. Instacart helps me stress less knowing that one task is done!
- Loyalty program friendly!! I love that I can still use my Costco card with Instacart. If you have loyalty programs with your grocery store, you can hook them up to Instacart and still reap the benefits.
- Instacart allows me to plan ahead. I can make a grocery list on Monday and have it delivered on Friday so my produce is fresh for a weekend get-together.
- Instacart remembers my preferences and frequently purchased grocery items so making my list is faster and faster each time.
Instacart likes to remind me how much time I have saved from using their services and I’m not going to lie, I dig the stats.
Things I don’t love about Instacart
- Cost. I don’t love that I’m spending more on groceries with Instacart than I would be if I went to the store myself. But when I consider the time I’m getting back, it doesn’t bother me a bit. Some weeks we go to Aldi and Costco. That round trip on a Sunday with kids would easily take me 2-3 hours. I love that I get those 2-3 hours back. I have come to terms with the fact that I am paying for convenience!
- Quality of items, particularly produce. I wish I was there to pick out the produce because I know what I want. See below for my pro tips on using the app — there are ways of getting around this with produce notes and easy refunds.
How to use the Instacart app like a pro
There are a few pro tips that I want to share about how to get the most out of Instacart.
Instacart has a mobile and desktop version
Don’t forget that you can use Instacart on your mobile app AND that there’s a desktop version. Use what works best for you!
Is Instacart worth it? You get 5% back on pickup orders
If you decide to use Instacart for a pickup order, you’re going to get some money kicked back. 5% in fact! If you can, make a routine out of when you meal plan and when you pick up. For example, maybe you decide that you’re going to meal plan first thing Sunday morning and you’re going to pick up the order on your way home from church (this is the exact routine we are working towards so we can get the 5% back!)
Instacart and Instacart+ are great for sending gifts!
If you have a friend out of town or a new mom that needs easy meals — consider using Instacart to send a gift order! The app recently added functionality for gifting so your recipient can get notifications, can get a gift note, and won’t get any of the receipt information. I’ve used this a few times and it’s clutch!!
Check out the “Buy It” Again tab on Instacart+
When you start an order for your most used grocery stores, you’ll see a “Buy It Again” tab at the bottom. This tab has all of your most frequently purchased items which makes it really easy to add your weekly staples. I always go to this tab first to take care of milk, eggs, bread, spinach, Boston lettuce, and bananas, which are things that we buy every week. It turns out to be a serious time saver.
Add notes on produce!
I always add specific notes on how I would pick out the produce so the shopper is as close as possible to picking how I would have picked. For example, I like our bananas slightly green and I like our avocadoes hard as a rock. I add specific notes about this. “Avocado should be green and hard, if there are only ripe avocadoes, please refund.” This really helps get produce up to your standards!
Ask for a refund when the items aren’t up to standards
Instacart has a really easy process for returning items that are spoiled, bruised, broken, etc. I know that the shopper is doing the best they can, but if I get a bunch of bananas that are half split open or strawberries with mold, I take a picture and get a refund through the app. The refund process takes 1-2 minutes total, it’s incredibly simple and effective.
Is Instacart worth it? Yes! How to sign up for Instacart and get started as a customer
If you’re ready to sign up use code SNORDQUIST12418A for $40 off when you sign up for Instacart+. Go to the website, click “sign up”, fill out your basic information, and get started with your first order. Is Instacart plus worth it? If your biggest constraint is time, yes! Highly recommend.