Muriel Vega
grocery shopping

You work eight hours a day, get stuck in traffic, hit the gym and somehow, you still need to scrunch up the energy to make a trip to the grocery store before getting home to cook. We're tired just thinking about it.

Grocery delivery app Instacart aims to save you time by providing you with an on-demand personal shopper that picks up your groceries on the same day you place the order. Your first order is free and all subsequent orders include a small delivery fee when you spend $35 or more.

The catch, however, is the prices you pay for grocery items through Instacart may be slightly higher, often with a markup of up to 20 percent. Those higher prices can be worth it if you lead a busy life. But you also have to take into account the delivery fee (starting at $3.99), the driver tip (20 percent) and the service fee for the order. Each order requires a minimum of $10 on the cart.

To bring perspective into your decision, we've put together a list of items available at Publix, one of Instacart's grocery store offerings, that shows the difference between picking it up at the store or ordering from Instacart.

1. Kashi cereal

Publix's famous BOGO deal is available both in-store and through the app for Kashi Cereal. However, the buy one, get one free of equal or lesser price is cheaper in store. Most cereals in-store are priced at $4.49, but on the app, it's 50 cents higher at $4.99.

Verdict: Cheaper in person

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2. 4-grain eggs

The 12-count, 4-grain, large brown vegetarian eggs are on sale for $2.25 (regularly $3.35) on Instacart, but the Publix in-store flyer lists an offer of two cartons for $4.00.

Verdict: Cheaper in person

3. Califia Farms almond milk

For those that opt for Instacart, you'll miss out on Publix's 3 for $10 Coconut Almondmilk 48 oz. bottle deal. Each bottle on the app is $3.69, only $0.76 off.

Verdict: Cheaper in person

4. Cottonelle 12-roll package

Shoppers at Publix will save nearly 70 cents on top of the current sale of Cottonelle 12-roll package of double rolls if they stop by their local store instead of going the Instacart route.

Verdict: Cheaper in person

5. Romaine hearts

If you've got a Caesar salad in the works, romaine hearts are first on your shopping list. A 3-ct bag is 2 for $4, versus $3.29 each on Instacart.

Verdict: Cheaper in person

6. Annie's mac 'n cheese

Annie's Homegrown shells and white cheddar mac 'n cheese sells for $2.19 in-store, versus Instacart's $3.09.

Verdict: Cheaper in person

7. Italian parsley

On the other hand, certain produce like Italian parsley are the same price in-store or via the app ($1.69) signaling true time savings since the cost is the same.

Verdict: Same price on both

8. Dove body wash

In the Instacart app, Dove moisturizing body wash (22 oz.) is $6.34 each with the help of an in-app coupon, same as in-store.

Verdict: Same price on both

9. Smithfield bacon

Smithfield's natural hickory smoked bacon is up for grabs at Publix in-store for $5.58 (or through a BOGO offer). The BOGO offer is also available through the Instacart app, but it's $6.19 each.

Verdict: Cheaper in person

10. Blueberries

Each pack of blueberries on Instacart is $3.69. That same pack of blueberries is going for 3 for $10 at your local Publix – an offer not available in the on-demand app.

Verdict: Cheaper in person

Adding it all up

There's no right choice as the on-demand service is meant to be a complement to your busy life. If less stress and more time is worth spending a little extra money, then click away and wait for your order to arrive. If you'd rather save your money, then grab a shopping cart and hit the aisles.

These figures were accurate at the time this article was composed in February 2019. Prices on Instacart and Publix may have fluctuated since that time.
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

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About The Author

Muriel Vega

Muriel Vega is an Atlanta-based journalist and editor who writes mostly about technology and its intersection with food and culture. She’s the managing editor of tech news publication Hypepotamus, and has contributed to The Guardian, Atlanta magazine, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, VICE and more. She spends her time eating her way through Buford Highway and exploring Atlanta's arts scene.

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