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Is online grocery shopping worth it?

thriftyfoods

I first heard about online grocery shopping a few years ago when I lived in a neighbourhood without amenities within walking distance. I used to dread spending the time, energy, and gas money going to the grocery store each week. I was working 70 hours, and a trip to the store could easily take one or two hours out of my day. It didn’t seem worth the hassle, and I often bought take-out instead because it was easier – not great for my waistline or my wallet. :|

When my neighbour told me she had started ordering her groceries online, I was intrigued. For a small fee, she was able to do all her shopping on the internet, and choose the delivery time most convenient for her. It seemed like the perfect solution to my time crunch, so I decided to try it out. It was great, and I used the service a couple of times before I ended up moving into my current home – which is more conveniently located for shopping.

But, I’m feeling the time crunch again. Even though I’m only working 50-55 hours/week, I find myself busy after work almost every day of the week – field hockey practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and running Monday, Wednesday, Fridays. Weekends are filled with more running, field hockey games, and social commitments that I’m never able to fit in during the work week. I was finding it hard to go anywhere but Safeway for my groceries (a 5 minute walk from my house), but everything is so expensive there.

So, I decided to try ordering groceries from my preferred store, Thrifty Foods. They charge a flat rate of $7.95 for next day service (same day is $9.95), which I thought was reasonably priced considering it would cost me $4.60 in gas to drive there and back, plus at least an hour of my time.

It took me about 15 minutes to order all of my groceries online (I did it over my lunch break at work), and I was impressed. I felt like I was able to stop my impulse purchases (which were almost always junk food), and I could see the total amount of my order as I shopped – which helped me stay on budget.

Online grocery shopping at Thrifty Foods

Online grocery shopping at Thrifty Foods

 

What impressed me about Thrifty Foods is their customer service, although I shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve shopped with them for as long as I can remember, and it’s always been top notch. Their customer service reps will call you if anything you’ve ordered is out of stock, and suggest replacement items for you instead. Their delivery drivers are extremely friendly, and I feel really happy with how I was treated.

Related: 30 days as a pescetarian – what I learned

However, even though I’ve had some really positive experiences, and the service fees are reasonable, there are definitely cons to having groceries delivered.

For example, even though I was able to leave a note attached to each product I put into my online shopping basket, I almost never got the fruits the way I would have picked them out myself. “Slightly green bananas” can mean different things to different people, I guess. :) Additionally, it’s kind of inconvenient to have to wait at home for the delivery to arrive (a 1.5 hour window), and every other week I end up having to make a supplementary trip to the local Asian market anyway to pick up produce and other perishables.

I don’t think this is something I would do on a weekly, or even a bi-weekly basis. But I do think it’s something I would do every few months when I have a big shopping trip ahead of me.

In theory, anyone with a busy schedule can benefit from ordering groceries online. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to use the service again! However, it might only be worth it on a regular basis for the following types of people:

  • People who don’t have vehicles, and cannot make big trips to the grocery store for regular staples.
  • The elderly, disabled, or injured, who find it difficult getting out of the house.
  • Those who live far from any reasonably priced stores.

Have you – or would you – ever go online grocery shopping?

Contemplating a gym membership (again)

Yesterday, as I contemplated signing up for a corporate gym membership, I got to thinking how much money I spend on fitness each year.

I haven’t paid for a gym membership before (when I was younger up until I was 22 or 23, I was a PacificSport athlete, so my gym fees were always taken care of). Once my sponsorship expired, I could never bring myself to pay for something I used to get for free.

Related: The cost of what you love to do

These days, I run, play field hockey, and go to the occasional spin or yoga class.

Field hockey
$70 annual insurance (mandatory)
$240 club fees
$80 club fees
$50 annual tournament
$100 miscellaneous (equipment, uniforms, etc)

Running
$150 registration fees
$150 running shoes
$100 miscellaneous (clothing, accessories, etc)

With just field hockey and running alone, I’m spending approximately $940/year on fitness – that’s $78/month!

If I add in a gym membership ($51.85/month), I would be spending $130/month on fitness (maybe 2% of my gross monthly income). That seems a bit excessive, but at the same time, it’s what I love doing on a regular basis.

Related: a half marathon training update

Definitely something to think about – especially because the facility has everything that I love. There’s an indoor track, ice rinks, tennis & badminton courts, as well as a paddling centre! Drop-in sessions at a climbing gym are usually $18. To have unlimited access to a climbing wall would be a dream come true. Plus fitness classes at other facilities can range from $6-20 each (the ones at this facility are $16 each), and they’re included in my membership. AND if I could have access to an indoor field hockey (soccer) turf? That would be amazing.

There are ways I could cut back on other fitness expenses – like not playing on a second field hockey team (admittedly, being on 2 teams is a bit much). But everything else is pretty standard, and there’s not much more I can trim. There’s no time commitment to joining the gym, unless I want to pay for 12 months in advance, and get an additional 10% off. So I might just try it monthly and see how it goes.

How much do you spend on keeping fit each year?

Do you belong to a gym?

Bought a Breville Juicer!

Breville_JuicerLast night I bought what I have been wanting to buy for about a year: the Breville BJE510XL Juicer. I didn’t work it into my June budget, but I think it’s the right time to buy it. I’ve been wanting to do a juice cleanse for a few years now, but it’s hard to find the right time. Field hockey season doesn’t work because I can’t have any down time, which eliminates most of the year. And during the summer, it’s hard to avoid patio season and hanging out with friends.

But in a couple of weeks, I have to get a medical procedure done. This means I won’t be able to do any sort of exercise for one week, and I’ll have to take it pretty easy for 2-3 weeks afterwards. I don’t know if that means I won’t be able to run for 3-4 weeks, but what I do know is that I have a one week window where I am required to do zero physical activity – perfect for a juice cleanse.

For the most part, juicing is not exactly a frugal thing to do. Even though I am saving money by not buying meat (yes, I am still a pescetarian!), the cost of fresh veggies definitely will add up. And it will be interesting to see just how much my grocery costs increase next month because of it. But the good news is, during the summer there’s plenty of cheaper veggies, so it will likely be less expensive than in the winter. :)

The juicer itself was expensive. I could have bought a cheaper brand, but I think when it comes to things like this, you get what you pay for. So I bought it for $199. There was a refurbished one available for $129-149, but about 30% of the comments I saw were about the juicer not working out of the box. I know a lot of PF bloggers say that refurbished products are fine, and I agree for the most part. But played it safe buying the new one after reading the refurbished reviews.

As for the cost, I felt a bit guilty making such a conscious decision to ruin my budget this month, so I picked up two one-off freelance writing gigs, and am currently contemplating another.

Those that have a juicer, or have done a juice cleanse before – I’m looking for advice. What are your favourite recipes? Do you have any tips for a beginner juicer?

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