I would not have started buying groceries online if I hadn’t come down with a bad flu a couple years ago. My wife and I both have flextime programs at work, so usually if one of us is sick, the other can change her schedule to take care of him. It just so happens, however, that she was out of town at the time. I did not want to impose upon my friends by asking them to get me some food, but I was sick as a dog with nothing to eat in the house. I lived off takeout for a couple of days, but what I really wanted was just to make a big pot of chicken soup.
At the time, buying groceries online was a pretty new thing in my neighborhood. Fortunately, there was a store about five blocks down that was starting a trial online delivery program. I joined their site, shopped in the virtual grocery store and ordered delivery. There was an extra charge, of course, to have things delivered to my door, but all in all it was reasonable. By that afternoon, I had everything he needed to wait out the flu.
Since that first shopping experience, online grocery stores have really boomed. When I first tried it, the store only had some of its inventory available for only shopping, but nowadays, buying groceries online actually gives you more options than buying them in a store. I used to have to drive across town to the Russian, Chinese, or Polish grocery stores for specialty ingredients when I wanted to try my hand at Ethnic cuisine, but nowadays I can order everything I want at cheaper rates from an online distributor. Buying my groceries online also saves me a bit of money, since I can comparison shop and buy items at the cheapest rate from several stores, rather than having to settle for the price one particular store offers.
For me, one of the biggest advantages to buying groceries online is the way it allows me to experience locally grown produce. I don’t usually have time to go to farmers markets, but some local farmers have developed a cooperative program that brings fresh fruit and veggies directly to my door. Once a week, they bring apples, onions, kale, kohlrabi – whatever is in season. It means I have to be flexible, since I don’t know exactly what I will get, but it also gives me a chance to taste incredibly fresh produce and to support local growers using sustainable practices.