10 Timesaving, Money-Saving Hacks for Shopping on Instacart

Here's how to get the biggest bang for your buck when using this grocery delivery service.

Sure, grocery shopping is a necessary task. But many of us don't necessarily have to go there in person. While grocery delivery isn't accessible to 100 percent of the population, the increased demand in the last few years has helped grocery delivery services expand like never before in the United States.

One of the most widely available services is Instacart, a grocery delivery service where personal shoppers select your items from the store and then deliver them to your door. You can often get same-day delivery (even within an hour), depending on your location. Store options are vast, and include major retailers such as Albertsons, ALDI, Costco, CVS, Kroger, Loblaw, Publix, Sam's Club, Sprouts, Wegmans—even your local pharmacy, fishmonger, wine shop, Sephora store, or Sur La Table is likely on Instacart.

And Instacart has introduced many new features to help you get fresh groceries delivered to your home, such as a special Senior Support Service for customers over age 60.

Instacart-shopping-tips: grocery bag with food
Getty Images

Whether you've been using Instacart—or another grocery delivery service—for years or you're ready to get started, here are a few genius tips, tricks, and hacks for using the app to its upmost potential. (Because safety first, but endless hours of your life back second.)

01 of 10

The Best Time of Day to Order Groceries

Shot of a young woman shopping for groceries in a supermarket - stock photo

kupicoo / Getty Images

The best time to order your fresh grocery items, including produce, proteins, and dairy products, is early in the morning or first thing when your local grocery store opens. Grocery stores will typically restock items overnight, so you may experience the best item availability.

To improve your odds of finding all the fresh items on your shopping list, just create and schedule your order the night before you'd like it to be delivered. You can select the earliest delivery slot for the next morning.

02 of 10

You Can Redo Past Grocery Orders

A grocery list on a colorful background

The Spruce Eats / Sabrina Tan

If you order many of the same foods over and over, there's a far faster way to reorder than starting from scratch each time. Instead of rebuilding your entire cart, simply go to any of your past orders and click on "Add All Items to Cart" for a super fast new order build.

From there, you can adjust the cart further by adding or deleting items as necessary. Another (less committal) option is to go to your favorite store on the app and peruse the "Buy it Again" carousel or tab at the bottom of the screen—then quickly add your most purchased items to your cart one by one.

03 of 10

You Can Send Groceries and Goods Anywhere

Family shopping at a grocery store

Johner Images / Getty Images

As an Instacart customer, you can send groceries to friends or family members—even if they're across the country—making it an easy way to stock the fridge and pantry of a person you know that needs a helping hand. Simply input their zip code, choose their favorite local store, fill your cart with the items they need, then place and pay for their order to be delivered to their home.

You can even track replacements, chat with their shopper while they shop, and help notify them when their order has arrived.

04 of 10

Filters Make Shopping for Dietary Restrictions Easier

A rainbow of colours and textures in this vibrant and healthy snack board of fruit, vegetables, dips, nuts and olives. Citrus fruits, grapes, tropical fruits and berries add colour to the spread. Hazelnuts,almonds, walnuts, kalamata olives and home made dips of hummus, beetroot and pumpkin are surrounded by salad sliced for a fun, healthy way to snack. Raw healthy food, ready for a party
Enrique Díaz / 7cero / Getty Images

On the hunt for gluten-free bread, vegan ice cream, or plant-based meat? Instacart can help with that. Use the app's filters to personalize your grocery shopping experience by showing just gluten-free, kosher, vegan, organic, or other options for those with allergies or restrictions. (Using this feature is a lot easier than trying to dissect a product's packaging in person, BTW—who knows how hard it is to read tiny fonts better than those with dietary restrictions?)

You can also use their filters to see what's on sale or by price point: Simply search for the item you're looking for (e.g., milk) and then select the filter icon next to the search bar in order to refine your search accordingly.

05 of 10

Save With Sales and Coupons

person holding coupon booklet

Instacart has hundreds of thousands of new deals and coupon offers available every day. To view what's on sale and/or has a coupon available, select a store in your area, click on the "Savings" icon and choose between the "Sales" tab or the "Stock up & Save" tab.

06 of 10

Crowdsource Your Cart

Grocery shopping list
David Prince

If you have a big household and are tired of managing everyone's grocery requests (oh, have we all been there), you can create a Group Cart and invite your family members or roommates to add items to that week's cart. Then you can finish off the order, make the final calls, and place it together.

07 of 10

Set Your Shopper Up for Success

Shot of a young woman shopping in a grocery store
Tassii/Getty Images

The Instacart app is full of features that allow you to manage and personalize your groceries as much or little as you want. You can specify preferences by leaving comments on the items you put into your cart ahead of time (e.g., you want 1 pound of skinless salmon separated into three portions), suggest and approve replacements for any items that might be out of stock ("if they don't have Bounty paper towels, just refund the item"), and chat with your shopper in real-time using the in-app chat feature.

Your shopper can also send you photos of what's available on the shelves, so you can get the Ben & Jerry's flavor you really want instead of a random replacement.

08 of 10

The Deal With Tipping

Closeup of a dollar bill
Photo of a closeup of a dollar bill.

Instacart defaults to tipping your shopper the same percentage as your last order, so if you want to tip above and beyond to reflect the extra effort of your shopper, make sure to adjust accordingly. You can do this before or after you receive your order.

09 of 10

Grocery Pickup Is an Option, Too

The entrance to Publix, grocery store in Ocala.
Jeff Greenberg / Contributor/Getty Images

Out and about already? With Instacart Pickup, you can swing by the store en route from the park or running other errands. Instacart Pickup offers the perks of online grocery delivery combined with more affordability and flexibility—starting at just $1.99 per order versus $3.99 for delivery—and is free for Instacart Express members.

10 of 10

BTW, Sending Flowers Is Shockingly Affordable

How to Turn Grocery Store Flowers Into Gorgeous Bouquets

Instead of paying upwards of $80 for a well-crafted flower arrangement plus shipping or rush fees, you can buy a beautiful (yet reasonably-priced) bouquet of flowers from your favorite local grocery store or specialty food store. Chances are, they can be delivered within a couple of hours to anyone, anywhere in the country. Perhaps the best part is that you can easily add on a treat and a bottle of bubbly to create an impressive care package for your loved one, all from the same store.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles