Food Brands & Services reviews

Cooking Product Tester Newbie

 

A few days ago, I received a direct message from a company called Stove Alert Cooking. They explained to me that they invented a new gadget that prevents your food from burning while you are cooking on the stove. The company also asked me if I would be interested in testing their new device. My immediate response was “yes.”

I am very excited about this opportunity. I not only believe that testing this new product will give my blog more publicity, but it too will very soon help me, you and all other cooks from all different levels, feel more confident cooking with food over the stove, without having to worry about undercooking or burning it.

Here some of the details:

How does it work? 1. Download the stove alert app from your smartphone’s app store. 2. Attach the device to your skillet/saucepan. 3. Connect it to your smartphone’s Bluetooth. Then it will let you know when your food is ready.

When does the testing begin? I start the process next month. The company will be sending me a few surveys throughout the month, and I should receive the actual product by the middle of April.

I will keep you updated on the progress as time goes on.

 

The website Stove Alert Cooking

Instacart: Groceries Delivered in an hour

 

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“Groceries delivered in one hour.” That’s the tagline on the homepage of Instacart, the five-year-old grocery delivery company that lets you buy online from large grocery stores like Whole Foods, Costco, Petco and H.E.B., and it then delivers your groceries to you that same day, often within an hour or two.

Sounds too good to be true? That’s what I questioned, and so I gave the service a spin a few weeks ago. Here’s what I found out.

About Instacart

Here’s a little summary of how the company works: Instacart permits you to shop major grocery stores like Whole Foods, H.E.B., Petco, Shaw’s, and Costco through its website or apps, and then forwards your order to one of its part-time workers. This “personal shopper” goes to the store, picks up everything that’s on your shopping list and then delivers it to you in their vehicle on the same day. Sounds fantastic right? I come on you don’t even have to leave your house or work.

Delivery costs: Delivery is free for your first purchase. Later, it starts at $3.99 for two-hour delivery and $5.99 for one-hour delivery when you spend $35 or more. Delivery prices for your individual order are displayed at checkout. There’s also an option to join the Instacart Express membership club, which offers free delivery on two hour and scheduled grocery deliveries over $35 for $149/year, after a free 14-day trial. Money/tips for your personal shopper is optional but supported.

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Stores that are not mentioned: HEB and Petco

The Ordering Experience

After registering/logging in, the first order of interest for me was to decide which grocery store(s) I want to shop from through the company’s app. There were four choices accessible to me in Houston: H.E.B., Whole Foods Market, Petco, and Costco. I don’t buy from Costco often or own a membership, but as it turns out, I don’t require one! Instacart will let me order all of the bulk food items that I want from Costco, no club membership needed.

I chose to place an order from H.E.B. Since I’m very familiar with the things that they usually sell in their store, I found it easier to hunt for the food item or brand. You can shop by section, though, and I was happy to find a careful selection of what I would find in-store, including options to shop the Health Food and Specialty Cheese aisles. There were photos connected to the majority of food items, which helped confirm I had found the particular item I was searching for on their website/app.

Before I placed my order, the site enabled me to choose replacements for all of the things just in case they were out of stock, which is a helpful feature. Instacart offered its personal recommendations, but it was easy to customize the picks or to choose only to have the item returned instead. There was also a choice to have my personal shopper call or text me to confirm any replacement purchases, but I didn’t worry over that. I just chose a few reliable alternatives (mostly another brand, or an organic version of a non-organic selection) and then they placed the order!

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Here’s the trendy and my favorite part of the service:

The confirmation page provided me live updates on my order, containing the name of my personal shopper and when he began shopping for me, and when they’d finished, gotten into their car, and were headed to my house. At that point, I was able to watch them on a GPS map, so I understood when they were getting near to my home. The delivery arrived on schedule, too. Within two hours my doorbell rang, and a friendly man handed me four bags or more of groceries.

He immediately ran down the list of changes he made, and he then told me my receipt would be emailed to me.

I looked at my order and found it all correct. So, sounds excellent, right? Well, yes, if it weren’t for one thing, which is my biggest skepticism with Instacart: their pricing. I am certain you would skeptical of it too, so now the next section will be about how they price their food.

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How Instacart prices its food

When I first put together my H.E.B. order on Instacart’s site, I thought all of the prices were actual H.E.B. store prices, but it’s not 100% correct**: they’re Instacart prices, which a few will say are marked up a good 45% from what you would pay in-store.

The company’s pricing policy isn’t visible anywhere on the main page. It’s just when you dig into their FAQ page that you can get some info on it: Yes, Instacart prices are our own and vary from the store’s price. If you see an item that you believe is priced wrongly or unreasonably, please feel free to contact us. We have the right to cancel items that are priced incorrectly due to a mistake. Instacart also says on their Twitter page, “occasionally, our prices are lower or higher than the stores’ prices, seldom they are the same.” When I examined what Instacart charged me with the in-store price, that’s exactly what I saw: few of the items were affordable in-store than what Instacart charged me, some were the same price, and a few were more high, which determined Instacart was giving me a good deal.

For instance, here some of the items I purchased in the recent past when I used Instacart. I ordered a lime and a navel orange, and asparagus they were all approximately in the same price range. But Instacart charged me $6.15 for Thick Boneless Pork Center Loin Chops (the in-store price is only $3.57), $0.82 for Red Gold Crushed Tomatoes (in-store price $0.57), and $2.26 for a 16oz H-E-B Select Edamame In Natural Shell (in-store price $1.98).

So I paid a premium for all those items, which is silly I know considering that I buy mostly the H.E.B. brand because it’s usually the most affordable option on the shelf. It possibly does balance out a little, but once you total in delivery cost and tip, it’s possible Instacart still costs me more than if I bought in-store, although perhaps not quite as much as fretted, depending on what I’m buying.

 

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When I first put together my H.E.B. order on Instacart’s site, I thought all of the prices were actual H.E.B. store prices, but it’s not 100% correct**: they’re Instacart prices, which a few will say are marked up a good 45% from what you would pay in-store.

The company’s pricing policy isn’t visible anywhere on the main page. It’s just when you dig into their FAQ page that you can get some info on it: Yes, Instacart prices are our own and vary from the store’s price. If you see an item that you believe is priced wrongly or unreasonably, please feel free to contact us. We have the right to cancel items that are priced incorrectly due to a mistake. Instacart also says on their Twitter page, “occasionally, our prices are lower or higher than the stores’ prices, seldom they are the same.” When I examined what Instacart charged me with the in-store price, that’s exactly what I saw: few of the items were affordable in-store than what Instacart charged me, some were the same price, and a few were more high, which determined Instacart was giving me a good deal.

For instance, here some of the items I purchased in the recent past when I used Instacart. I ordered a lime and a navel orange, and asparagus they were all approximately in the same price range. But Instacart charged me $6.15 for Thick Boneless Pork Center Loin Chops (the in-store price is only $3.57), $0.82 for Red Gold Crushed Tomatoes (in-store price $0.57), and $2.26 for a 16oz H-E-B Select Edamame In Natural Shell (in-store price $1.98).

So I paid a premium for all those items, which is silly I know considering that I buy mostly the H.E.B. brand because it’s usually the most affordable option on the shelf. It possibly does balance out a little, but once you total in delivery cost and tip, it’s possible Instacart still costs me more than if I bought in-store, although perhaps not quite as much as fretted, depending on what I’m buying.

Review/Summary

Pros

Very helpful, especially if you’re sick and can’t shop, or have small children and can’t leave the house, through online selection, close to what you’d find in-store, Ability to order from many local stores at once. Admittance to Costco even with no membership. Very Friendly personal shoppers and an easy ordering experience.

Cons

You cannot be particular about the food.
The prices are Instacart’s own and change from the original in-store costs, which means you could pay a premium (but not always). The price range from store to store, and it’s not clear to why some things are more expensive than others. They don’t honor store sales, coupons, or rewards into account

So, therefore, I don’t intend on using Instacart entirely or regularly. However, when I have the time, I prefer shopping in person — choosing out the produce I want, relating prices, seeing what new thing grabs my eye. But on especially stressful, sick or lazy days when getting to the store just isn’t on the schedule, and having groceries delivered to a family member, friend, or a babysitter, I think it’s a great opportunity.

My review: Instacart always does a fantastic job. The employees are respectable and friendly. My rating for the entire service is a 4 out of 5-stars.

Have you ever bought from Instacart? What has your experience been?

Source and credit goes to The kitchn