With all the competing demands on our time in today's world, it's easy to see why online grocery delivery services like Amazon Fresh and Instacart are surging in popularity. These companies allow you to place your order online, just as you would shop for clothes or any other items on the internet, and have the groceries delivered right to your door, saving you the time and hassle of a trip to the store. Although no one can deny their convenience, are these services actually cost effective? Well, many experts and shoppers say yes—as long as you use the right strategies. “Our typical weekly food bill runs around $140 to $150 for our family of five. However, when I use online shopping I rarely spend more than $100,” Missouri mom and blogger Tracie Richmond Forbes, who gets groceries delivered from Hy-Vee, told Money Talks News. One reason for the savings may be a reduction in impulse shopping. Forbes says that when she grocery shops online, she has no other option than to stick only to the items on her list, making that last-minute purchase of a candy bar at the register a thing of the past. Another big benefit of shopping online is that it makes comparison shopping a breeze, so you can be sure you're getting the most bang for your buck out of a particular product. For example, when you're at a crowded grocery store with your kids in tow, it may be easier to just grab any old brand of canned tomatoes or milk, not paying attention to the price. You don't have time to walk up and down the entire aisle to make sure you're choosing the one with the lowest price per ounce. But if you shop online, you can do it at any time you please (say, after the kids have gone to bed), and you can devote your full attention to choosing the most budget-friendly options. I have used this strategy myself and have definitely saved a few dollars in the process! While you can't use traditional coupons when you use grocery delivery services, the companies often offer their own coupons. What's more, if you work from home or are a stay-at-home parent, it can pay to choose a delivery time that's not during peak hours (say, the middle of the day). Many retailers give a discount for choosing an off-time for delivery. Some companies also reduce their delivery fee for larger orders, making bulk shopping advantageous. One thing to keep in mind is that shopping for groceries online does have added expenses in the form of delivery fees and gratuity. The delivery fee is usually between $7 and $13, or $364 to $676 per year if you shop weekly, which sounds like a lot. However, with the money you're able to save using the aforementioned strategies, these fees start to seem like a small price to pay. Gratuity is not required, but $3 to $5 seems to be standard. After all the time and money you've saved not schlepping to the supermarket, a few bucks for the people who helped you out is well worth it.
This story originally appeared on Don't Waste Your Money. Checkout Don't Waste Your Money for other great tips and ideas to make the most out of life.