Socially Distanced Grocery Shopping: The Ins and Outs of InstaCart


With thousands of families now opting to avoid grocery stores and utilize delivery or pick-up services, getting a prized InstaCart “time-slot” has become seemingly impossible. 

Fear not, ladies. As a seasoned online food shopper, I’m here to share some expertise in order to help you feed your family during these unprecedented times. 

My little shopper picking out all of his favorite items (circa 2019)

My app of choice is InstaCart, but these tips can generally be applied to most platforms. 

  • Choose a store you’d like to shop from, and create a “cart.” Load up with items from your typical weekly shopping trip. Having a cart with at least one item in it is the first and most critical step to snagging a spot. 
  • Check Out by clicking the “check out” button to proceed.
  • If there are times available, grab one! It doesn’t matter what day/time it is, and you can’t be picky here. All that matters is securing the elusive InstaCart “slot.” 
    • Remember: you can add/remove items from your cart up until your shopper starts shopping your order. That means that the contents of your cart are not as important as actually having it loaded up and ready to hit “check out” at a moment’s notice.  
  • If there are NO times available…
    • Go through each day that is available to view on the drop down menu (website or app) and double check each day and time slot to ensure you aren’t missing one. 
    • Take a pause, take a breath, and hit refresh. Yep, refresh the screen and check again. Do this a few times, then walk away. Come back later, and REPEAT.
    • Pro tip #1: Check for slots throughout the day, and always scan each day thoroughly. Random openings WILL pop up. I promise you this. But you need to do two things: have patience, and trust me. 
    • Pro tip #2: Try checking first thing in the morning, around 6 a.m.; or late, around 11 p.m. These times have proven to be fruitful in my experience. 
  • Things to remember once you have a slot: 
    • When you get the notification that your shopper is working on your order, make yourself available. Proactively hop onto the “chat” feature and introduce yourself. Let them know that you’re here to chat about replacement items. If you are not engaging with them, you risk having much of your order refunded for lack of availability. On the other hand, if you tell them you would like replacements and will provide feedback, they will be much more likely to seek out alternatives if some of your selections are out of stock– which is incredibly common these days.
    • If you have a slot, but you don’t like it, don’t sweat it. Remember, it’s easy to “reschedule” your slot. Searching for a different time-slot is the same method as securing one to begin with. Just click the “reschedule” button to see if anything more desirable has opened up. Don’t worry, you won’t lose your spot if it hasn’t.
    • Pro tip #3: Considering tipping your shopper above and beyond; they are essential and front-line workers who we certainly could not live without.

I hope this guidance helps you to not only secure your groceries, but relieve some stress surrounding the process, too. Because let’s face it, it’s definitely a “process” these days. Head over to my Instagram for more on how I’m tackling #mommylife during the pandemic, or just to say “hey!”

Please share any other InstaCart or grocery shopping tips that you might have below! We’re in this together, ladies. 


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