Six Ways to Use Online Grocery Delivery to Achieve Your Health Goals
The past few years have been full of uncertainty. In my practice as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I’ve noticed that many of my patients have reprioritized their health with a commitment to promoting long-term habits and lifestyles.
In the early days of the pandemic, our behaviors changed in an instant – some of us had more discretionary time to go on walks, cook more often when restaurants were closed for in-person dining, and order our groceries online to avoid crowded stores. More than two years later, many of these behaviors have now become habits, and as a dietitian, I’ve taken a particular interest in the role that online grocery delivery plays in helping my patients achieve their health goals. If there’s one pandemic habit that I want people to hold onto, it’s online grocery shopping.
According to a recent Instacart survey of more than 2,000 Americans conducted online by The Harris Poll, among those who have ordered groceries online, “81% say doing so helps them make healthier choices, with 45% saying this is because they’re able to stick to a list of items they actually need and avoid impulse buying.” As a professional dietician, I’m not surprised by this – those who grocery shop online are more likely to make mindful and intentional choices around the foods they purchase as well as plan ahead.
As a longtime Instacart customer, I’ve discovered six online shopping tricks that can support everyone in achieving their health and nutrition goals:
- Simplify Meal Planning with Shoppable Recipes. Meal planning is an effective tool that supports making nourishing choices during a busy week. But many of my patients report that it’s time-consuming and cumbersome to research recipes and compile shopping lists, and I don’t disagree! With Instacart, I love that you can browse thousands of recipes in the app from sites like Cooking Light, Eating Well, Delish, Real Simple, and Allrecipes, and add the ingredients to your online cart with one tap. To streamline the meal planning process even further, recipes you order and favorite are automatically added to “Your Recipes” within the app, so once you find that perfect spring pilaf recipe, you can easily make it on repeat.
- Explore New Food Cultures. Healthy choices can move beyond grilled chicken and salad, and they can and should have a multitude of flavors and ingredients. I encourage my patients to depart from the norm and explore a range of cuisines and food cultures to discover how delicious ‘healthy’ can be. Instacart partners with a wide variety of grocery retailers including your favorite national, local, and specialty stores offering artisan products and cultural grocery essentials. Interested in trying your hand at Kimchi Bokumbap? Try shopping from H Mart. Want to give pozole or mole a shot? Get everything you need from Vallarta Supermarkets.
- Lean Into Labels. If you’re shopping for foods to meet specific dietary needs, Instacart makes it easy by including filters for dietary preferences including organic, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, fat-free, kosher, sugar-free, and low-fat. Additionally, many of the foods available via Instacart include full nutrition labels so you can compare products and make the choice that best serves your nutrition needs.
- Use EBT SNAP to Shop Online. With so many Americans using EBT SNAP benefits to pay for their groceries, I appreciate Instacart’s work to help onboard retailers to accept EBT SNAP payments for online grocery delivery and pickup, which currently reaches more than 25 million people experiencing food insecurity across the country. And using your EBT SNAP benefits online could have health benefits – Instacart’s survey shows that among Americans who are eligible for SNAP benefits, one in three (34%) say the ability to use their SNAP benefits when buying groceries online helps them make healthier choices. At this time, you can use your EBT SNAP benefits to shop across a variety of stores via Instacart in 39 states and Washington, D.C. including Publix, Stop & Shop, ALDI, Food Lion, Save Mart, FoodMaxx, Lucky Supermarkets, and Price Chopper.
- Increase Your Produce Intake, Not Your Grocery Bill. Coupled with intentional shopping and thoughtful choices, stocking up on produce doesn’t have to mean a bigger total grocery bill. In fact, a recent study from No Kid Hungry found that those who shopped online purchased more fruits and vegetables on average, compared to those who only shopped in stores, while their overall grocery bills remained largely the same. For those looking to save more, I always recommend buying frozen, boxed, jarred or canned vegetables and fruits which can be just as nutritious as fresh produce, in addition to taking advantage of online grocery discounts and coupons. Instacart, for example, runs hundreds of thousands of deals and coupons daily, offering millions in savings. I often find great deals on frozen fruit, fresh herbs, and veggies myself!
- Save Time & Do More of What You Love. When you shop for groceries online, you save on average up to 90 minutes per order, which is time that can be spent doing what you love to round out a healthy lifestyle. In fact, Instacart’s survey found that among Americans who have saved time by buying groceries online, some spent that extra time hanging out with family (50%) and cooking (42%).
As the world opens up and we become busier, I hope you continue to find time to hold on to the beneficial habits you developed over the past few years. I want to encourage you to create space and time for activities that you love such as spending time outside, engaging in pleasurable movement, cooking a new recipe, and continuing to shop for the nourishing and delicious groceries you love. Cheers to a fruitful (pun intended) 2022!
This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Instacart from March 15-17, 2022, among 2,054 adults ages 18+, among whom 1,123 have ordered groceries online. The sampling precision of Harris online polls is measured by using a Bayesian credible interval. For this study, the sample data is accurate to within + 2.8 percentage points using a 95% confidence level. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact [email protected].
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