As someone living with Dysautonomia, I dread going to the grocery store. I know that may sound negative, but it's the truth. Not having the energy to walk around the store and feeling incredibly lightheaded due to blood pooling and drop in blood pressure, standing in the checkout line can feel impossible. When I am able to go, but can’t walk the whole store, I will use one of the motorized wheelchairs that are available at the store – this has helped me tremendously be able to actually navigate going to the grocery store. I know that using a wheelchair can feel like you are giving in to being disabled and people look at you weirdly because you are a young “healthy” looking individual, but I have found that once I decided to think of it as a tool to accomplish something, all of that stigma started to fade.
Another option, if you aren't actually able to make it to the store, is to have your groceries delivered. This is truly an amazing concept, not only for those living with a chronic illness, but for healthy people as well who simply don't have the time. There is no shame in needing a little help whether you are ill or not!
When I heard about Instacart a couple years ago, before being diagnosed with Dysautonomia, I was intrigued and it has now become a tool that I have come to love.
How it works
You can shop from anywhere using your computer or you can download the app onto your smartphone and create an account with your name, email, phone number, address, and payment method.
Once you have set up an account, choose the grocery store that you prefer. It will give you a list of the stores near you that it is partnered with. From there, you can search for each individual item that you want to add to your cart or you can browse by category.
One thing that is great about the app is that it has a coupon section where you can see what items are on sale and the brands that offer the biggest savings.
While this is definitely a convenient tool to have, Instacart also has to make a profit. The items are usually priced the same as in the store, but sometimes prices can be higher and they will show you how the prices online compare to in-store prices.
You also have the option to sign up with Instacart Express or do a free 14-day trial. With this option, you get unlimited free delivery on orders of $35 or more, shop a variety of stores with free delivery on the entire order, and save money by avoiding higher fees during peak delivery hours.
Who does the shopping?
Instacart has personal shoppers that receive your order and shop your items in the store. Your personal shopper can communicate with you through the chat feature on the app to let you know if something is out of stock and whether or not to replace it with a different brand or get a refund for the item. If you have a specific note for the shopper about how to handpick certain produce, you can do this through the chat as well.
I have never had a bad experience with chatting with a shopper, but I will mention that when you are picking your items, you must be specific with weight and quantity so that the person shopping for your items knows how much of each to get, so make sure you are paying attention to this, specifically for produce.
Once the shopper is finished, your items will be stored in a large refrigerator until the delivery is scheduled.
You will be able to choose a window of time for delivery, anywhere from 1 hour to 5 hours, depending on what works best for you. There is a $5.99 delivery fee, but can increase due to peak delivery hours.
Once your order has been picked up, you will get a notification on your phone that your order is on its’ way. I live in a condo building and have not encountered a delivery that has not followed my instructions. They have always delivered it right to my condo door and place the grocery bags on the kitchen counter or sometimes I decide to just take them at the door.
Where is Instacart available?
You will see either on the website or on the app that you will choose your country and then enter your address to see if Instacart is available near you.
I can’t speak to the website because I have not used it, but the app is intuitive and easy to use. I definitely recommend Instacart whether you are in a bind or have a chronic illness.
Try it and let me know what you think!