The Challenge: Out of milk. Is it better to go to the store or have it delivered?

This summer, Instacart, a national grocery delivery service announced that it would expand to the Mile High City. I was skeptical. After all, I live less than 10 minutes from two King Soopers. What, I foolishly asked, could be so important that I couldn’t jump in my car and make a grocery run? The universe, of course, answered with a conundrum that same week: My husband had a work event in the evening and the bambino and I had settled into a night of block building. When it came time for his final bottle, I grabbed the milk container and poured out…nothing. It was empty. (This was my own fault, as I’d left it that way earlier in the day.) What was a solo parent to do? We headed to the grocery store and I sang “Baa Baa Black Sheep” at the top of my lungs so my son wouldn’t fall asleep in his car seat. He insisted I continue singing once we got to the store and I baa-baaed my way through the milk and checkout aisles. It was not my finest performance.

You’d think I’d learn, but a few weeks later I was faced with a similar shortage. This time, I tried out Instacart. The web-based company allows you to select groceries from nearby stores, including King Soopers, Safeway, Costco, and Whole Foods Market (just added). You pick your items and someone brings them to your doorstop. If a product you want (say, a banana) isn’t available, the site asks you for substitutes (an organic banana). I picked the one-hour delivery, which has a service fee of $5.99 to $9.99, depending on how much you buy. My order of milk, seven bananas, two avocados, and bread clocked in around $25, with tip. Less than 60 minutes later, a delivery person was on my stoop with a reusable tote filled with my picks. Milk time was saved.

The Verdict: Yes, yes, yes, I’d use Instacart again. (Effusive enough?) The service fee is costly, but justified in an emergency (or if you feel lazy). Plus, no one—except for my lovely son—wants to hear me singing in the store.

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Natasha Gardner
Natasha Gardner
Natasha Gardner is a Denver-based writer and the former Articles Editor for 5280.