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Instacart is one of the largest-growing grocery delivery apps out there, and with COVID-19 still around, many of us are seeking to use these services so we can avoid going to the store. Wondering how to use it like a pro? Check out these tips.
To snag a spot, be a night owl.
The first step is to download the Instacart app from the App Store or Google Play. When you’re ready to place an order, stay up late! Every day at midnight, the app — which services most major grocery chains — opens up new shopping slots. “Right now, when spots are at a premium, your best shot is to fill your cart a few minutes beforehand so you’re ready to go when the clock strikes,” advises Instacart shopper Hope Wearing of MyLifeFullOfHope.com. “Even though a lot of us are home, orders still surge on the weekends, so aim for midweek.”
Another idea is to try to keep your list on the small side. Some of the folks who do the shopping will skip large, time-consuming orders. Try to keep the number of items under 50 to ensure your order gets snapped up.
To get what you really want, preselect substitutions.
Many items are out of stock these days, but there is an easy workaround: Instacart lets you include substitutions in your grocery list. “Just hit ‘Instructions’ under the items for which you want to include a substitute,” says Wearing. “The app will let you search for an alternate product box — you can even request your shopper text you a photo of the shelf so you can see what’s available.” This is also a good spot to note your preferences — for example, you may like greener bananas or only ripe avocados.
You can also consider calling the store to find out when their restocking trucks come in, and plan your delivery for that day.
To make deliveries even safer, select ‘porch drop-offs.’
“The best part of using Instacart is it can be contact-free,” declares Wearing. “When you place your order, there’s an option to leave the items on your porch, or you can simply include a note in the app for your shopper with instructions on where to drop off the items, like at your back door or in front of the garage.”
Because you pay and tip right through the app, you won’t need to open the door or interact with anyone when your order arrives. The only caveat? “For alcohol orders, ID is required but not signatures at this time, so I suggest taping your ID to the inside of a window, where they can easily see it.”
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.