Food & Grocery Delivery Services during COVID-19 | Review of Instacart & DoorDash – A Customer & Employee Perspective!

- Food, Lifestyle

Instacart – Grocery, Alcohol, Pet & Home Delivery

Instacart as a Customer

Instacart has been my best friend for a while. I’ve been a customer of Instacart for a long time and love being able to plan grocery delivery at a certain time. I started using it a lot in 2017 when we were planning our wedding. Between a long commute to work and the extra time spent wedding planning, Instacart made it easy to stock up on groceries. I also love that I can set an actual grocery budget using it and not have those “oh that looks good”, in the moment food purchases I don’t need. So even with delivery and tip, I still ended up saving money and food waste using Instacart!

I also love that they expanded to deliver alcohol from stores like Total Wine & Spirits, pet stores like Petco and a variety of grocery stores. In Minnesota, I was able to get deliveries from places like Lunds & Byerlys, Cub Foods, Trader Joes, Total Wine & Spirits and Petco. Here I am able to get deliveries from Shaw’s, Market Basket, Stop & Shop, Costco, Total Wine & Spirits and Petco.

So why should you start using it now? THIS is a great way to practice social distancing! It’s also a great way to support people who may have been doing Instacart Shopper as a side gig, but now are doing it more full-time as they’ve been laid off from other positions and looking for ways to make money quickly. Grocery store hours are also reduced, so it’s a great way to get the groceries you need without having to go in-store, reducing your risk of exposure/exposing others. Aside from using it now, I think it’s something you’ll love and want to continue to use once this all passes.

You can sign up here, select the store you want to shop from, choose a delivery window and check out. From there, you will get notification of when your Shopper starts shopping and any notifications of replacement items for items out of stock (WHICH is a lot right now) or if there is no suitable replacement. I have my settings so I don’t need to approve replacements. My husband and I don’t have any specific allergies, etc. so it’s never really a big deal as long as we got something similar or just a different size. I have always gotten a great delivery including all of my items (unless if it was refunded because nothing suitable was available) with a great selection of products.

SIGN UP for Instacart Delivery!

Here are my pros and cons of using Instacart:


  • Set your grocery budget and actually stick to it!
  • Choose from a variety of items at a variety of stores
  • Adjust settings so you don’t have to approve replacements
  • Conveniently shop online or via your mobile app
  • Schedule a time that’s convenient for you
  • Tip via the app, no need to have cash on hand


  • Items can be out of stock and have no similar replacements – THIS IS going to be the case a LOT right now, be patient during these times and open to suitable replacements!
  • Long wait times – this is another con that’s just going to be more of an issue right now than normal, so be patient! You are still helping by not physically going into the grocery stores.
  • Delivery fee – it is a fee, however, as mentioned above if you are sticking to your list vs. buying what looks good, you can still save money on groceries!
  • Not available for every store – there are other stores that have their own delivery platforms, but Instacart definitely has the widest variety of stores to shop from.

Instacart as a Shopper

I started as an Instacart Shopper back in July of 2019. I thought about doing it for a long time because I enjoy grocery shopping and one time my delivery person told me how much she enjoyed it and that with good tips, the pay was great too. I have been picking up Instacart batches as a Shopper on and off since July. Overall, my experience has been great and I would highly recommend it right now for anyone looking to supplement their income.

Whether you are self-employed, experienced a lay off due to COVID-19 (thinking of anyone affected by this – I’m so sorry if this has happened to you or someone you know, hang in there!), or expect things to be tighter in the coming months, Instacart Shopper is a great way to make some extra money right away. The first time you shop, it can take a bit of time to get used to. The Shopper app is intuitive and easy to use, but depending on what grocery store and what location you’re at, it’s just going to take some time to get used to the layout, weigh the items, scan the barcodes, etc. After a few batches, it gets so much easier and faster.

My Tips/Good Things to Know:

  • Can’t find the exact item? Move on, find a suitable replacement. Most people, of course, want the specific item or brand but should be able to note it in the app. For example, if someone wanted a can of green beans, but they were out of Green Giant, then I would quickly and easily replace it with a different brand. If someone wants Skippy peanut butter but they only have Jiffy, I would still replace, but this might be something they choose to have you put back – some items are just more brand dependent if that makes sense.
  • Force replace items. The app can have all sorts of glitches while you’re shopping. Nothing serious, but more often than not, I have to “force replace” an item because it doesn’t recognize the barcode. Sometimes it’s the exact item and the app doesn’t recognize it. Force replace, take the picture, and you should be covered!
  • Don’t let people get to you. Some people are extremely picky (even during COVID-19) about brands. Or they might not be as understanding as others that something is out of stock. It can be frustrating and it’s OKAY. Get through it and move onto the next batch. Normally when I work a few hours/pick up a few batches, it all balances out in the end with one difficult batch and a couple of easier batches. Don’t give up!
  • Always check the distance between the grocery store and the items selected before accepting a batch. For me, to make a batch worth the time and effort, it has to be in a reasonable distance from where I am, reasonable distance to the delivery destination AND the order of product/unit count should be reasonable. What do I mean by reasonable? I mean that the person isn’t purchasing 20 2 liter bottles of soda, 10 packages of 20 water bottles, etc. That is a lot of heaving lifting and would take up a ton of time to bring to their house/doorstep from my car. I’ve had a couple of batches I regret taking because they took much longer than they should have for the base price + tip. It’s just a good habit to quickly scroll this before accepting.


  • Make extra money on your own schedule
  • Get paid once a week, OR MORE, with instant cash out. You can choose to get paid every Wednesday for the week Monday – Sunday the week before plus tips or cash out on the base price instantly after your shift. It charges 0.99 cents per transaction, but you have money in your account immediately.
  • Easy to sign up and start right away
  • Pro right now – TONS OF BATCHES available everywhere. They also aren’t limiting batches to anyone currently. Normally they push batches to people with best ratings first. Right now the demand is so high, you literally have batches to choose from all the time (at least I’ve gotten a ton of notifications even though I’m working elsewhere to pick up a batch)
  • Be your own “boss” – since you are shopping and delivering, it’s a great side hustle for someone who wants to be their own boss. You pick the batches, you do have some interaction with the customer, but it’s limited and you can do it whenever it works for you.


  • The driving distance can be too long sometimes, leaving you out in the middle of nowhere to drive far back to another grocery store
  • Like any job with tips, not everyone tips or tips well (or worth the effort)
  • No guaranteed hours – since you get paid per batch and not the hour (at least here in the Greater Boston area – you used to be able to schedule hours but would still need to work a batch for pay), there are no guaranteed hours. That makes it flexible but also can be inconsistent week to week. If you want to make some extra cash, this is great, but if you are looking for consistency, this might not be the best option.
  • No benefits – even if you did work up to 40 hours a week, there are no benefits tied to being a full-time Shopper. Instacart gives you resources like Stride to find health insurance, etc. but being a full-time Shopper does not equate to benefits you might receive at other full-time jobs.
  • No consistent base rate. Every time you pick a batch, it will tell you predicted pay based off the base rate and what they expect the tip to be, but there is no certain base rate or hourly rate. Again, if you like consistency in hours and pay, this might not be the best fit!

DoorDash – Restaurant Food Delivery

DoorDash as a Customer

DoorDash has been my go-to food delivery app for a few years. I used it SO much when living in Minneapolis and it came with me as my top delivery app in the Boston area. Like Instacart, I started using it a LOT during wedding planning season. It was a lifesaver to order food for my husband and I while we were busy working full-time with long commutes and a lot of extra to-dos with wedding planning!

DoorDash brought my favorite local restaurants to my doorstep in Minneapolis and is now doing the same in the Boston area. One of the great things you can do with DoorDash right now is continue to support local restaurants while they are only open for takeout. This also ensures you can stay inside and practice social distancing while allowing your delivery driver to leave the food at your door for no contact! Additinoally, by ordering via DoorDash you aren’t only supporting your favorite restaurants, you can also support people who may be picking up extra deliveries as Dashers because they were laid off or are looking for supplemental income that they are losing in their businesses. I also feel like you will love DoorDash and continue to use it long after trying it out during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Support your local restaurants and order delivery today through DoorDash!

Here are my pros and cons as a DoorDash customer:


  • A variety of your favorite local restaurants
  • Ability to select items off the full menu
  • Order from multiple places at the same time to adhere to all wants and dietary needs
  • Easy to order online or via the mobile app
  • Tip directly via the app, no need to have cash on hand
  • Support local restaurants and delivery drivers!


  • It can take a while to receive your food – this is true even outside of our current situation. I’ve waited close to two hours before, but I would say this is NOT likely. Just pay attention to the timeframe listed when you do place an order.
  • Fees – there are a couple of fees that honestly feel like a lot but right now supporting restaurants and Dashers AND getting some delicious food that you haven’t been able to get in person is a great thing right now!
  • Not all restaurants are on it – some of your favorite restaurants might not be on DoorDash (yet) or do delivery through another service. I do feel like a good variety of restaurants are available via DoorDash though!

So what are you waiting for? Sign up to get food delivered to your door via DoorDash today!

DoorDash as a Dasher

I recently just became a Dasher – literally just a few weeks ago as I was seeing a lot of local restaurants on my DoorDash app. Before COVID-19, Instacart wasn’t quite as busy in the Gloucester area, so I wanted to see if DoorDash had some more opportunities nearby. I’ve only done a few deliveries with them, but here are my thoughts on pros/cons so far (plus a little bit of research I did reading about other people’s experiences and watching their YouTube videos)!


  • It is really easy! You simply accept a job, pick up the order (ensure it is correct) and drive to deliver it. You don’t have to worry about picking out the correct items, just focus on ensuring the restaurant gives you the correct order and driving.
  • The delivery locations (at least so far in my experience) have been extremely close to the pick-up location, making it a great way to pick up multiple dashes per hour.
  • You can get started right away after signing up! I was able to start “dashing” within an hour after signing up. My background check, etc. went through and you can dash without needing your Activation kit. A great thing to start today if you want!
  • There are constant promotions for additional pay during what they call “Peak Pay”. This has been consistently true right now. I see a $2 to $4 bonus in peak pay currently – this is per delivery.
  • Get paid once a week (Tuesdays or Wednesdays depending on your bank for dashing the Monday – Sunday the week before), and after a certain number of successful deliveries (25 in the Boston area at least), you can qualify for instant pay. Unfortunately, the fee is $1.99 every time you want instant pay, but at least the option is available.


  • I’ve noticed the base pay is extremely low, meaning your pay is almost entirely based on tips. This can be great when customers tip well, and disappointing when customers tip low.
  • The fee for customers is so high, it might deter them from giving a better tip. Since the customer is required to pay the fee, while the tip is optional, they might not be willing to give a big tip because they are already paying so much for the fee.
  • You can schedule hours, but might not have anything come through. I scheduled hours one Friday over lunch when the app said it was “busy” in my area and I waited for 45 minutes, nothing came through.
  • Your car will smell like the food you’re delivering! Since this is a fast turnaround from fresh at the restaurant to the delivery location, the food scent is strong. Between delivering a shrimp basket and a bacon cheeseburger on my routes, I can say it took a bit for the smell to leave my car.

So there you have it! Two apps, two ways to make money, two ways to get groceries, take out and other essentials delivered to your doorstep without needing to worry about social distancing! Have you used Instacart or DoorDash as a customer before? Have you ever signed up to be a Shopper or a Dasher? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to ask me any questions you have on being a customer or employee of either app!

What Are the Most Popular Swimsuit Trends?

- Fashion, Shopping

Are you looking forward to spending some quality time on the beach this summer? Or perhaps you want to, but don’t yet have a swimsuit that makes you feel gorgeous. 

Picking the right swimsuit has a significant effect on how good you feel while wearing it. Something that helps you feel sexy will also make you more confident.

A great way to approach this is by looking for the best swimsuit styles for your figure. Most women have a body type that shares one of five sets of characteristics with each looking best in a slightly different swimsuit style.

Once you have an idea of what to wear, you’ll want to know the current trends for swimwear to ensure that your swimsuit is stylish. We’ll take a look at a few of the most popular trends from the past year to help you buy the right swimsuit for summer!

High Cut Bottoms

One of the most popular trends from the past few years is high cut bottoms.

This refers to swimsuits that have a unique cut on the bottoms. The shape is much more resemblant of a “V”, with plenty of hip showing as the cut angles higher up your leg. 

Traditional swimsuit cuts go straight across your hips, but a high cut goes up at a sharp angle. This provides more support and can help eliminate the feeling like your bottoms are going to slip off at any moment.  

High cut bottoms are popular these days because they help your legs appear longer, which creates a slimming effect. They’re great for highlighting your legs and are much for flattering because of this.

Animal Print

Another trend that you can’t go wrong with is animal print.

This is something that’s never completely gone out of style, but it has become a trendy choice in recent years. Animal skin creates a pattern that looks very distinct on your body, which is a timeless choice that works great on many women.

When it comes to animal print, cheetah and leopard skin are the first two that come to mind. A solid color with distinct spots is very catching due to the illusion it creates against your skin.

Cheetah and leopard may come to mind first, but they aren’t the only contenders in the animal print department. Zebra skin, snakeskin, tiger skin, and even cow print are a few other options that will make you stand out in bestial style. 

Belts and Accessories

You should also look for swimsuits with belts and other small accessories on them. 

While you certainly don’t need a belt to hold your swimsuit up, it’s still a great choice for how it ties your suit together. Even if you don’t need help keeping your bottoms up, a belt is always a great choice for creating a contrast between your bottom and top. 

This works great for a swimsuit as it makes a clear distinction between top and bottom. For something like a one-piece swimsuit, this can be used to help define your figure.

In addition to a belt, you should keep an eye on pieces with minor accessories on them. Think rings, buttons, and clasps. These are also excellent for adding flavor to your look as they provide character and flair.


A final trend to consider following is sustainable swimwear.

Sustainability is something that has become a priority in recent years and it’s affecting several industries. Swimwear is one of these targets and it’s something that you might appreciate.

For sustainable swimwear, some companies make their swimsuits out of recycled materials. This makes them environmentally friendly as they don’t require new materials to make and create a use for something that would otherwise go to waste. 

You might think that something made out of a plastic bottle might be uncomfortable, but this isn’t the case at all. Sustainable swimwear still feels nice to wear, looks great, and helps you do your part to reduce waste. 

Closing Thoughts

When you’re picking out your swimsuit to show off your fabulous summer body, you’ll probably want to know what fashion trends are most popular. These matter because they speak to what styles are most appealing and what will make you stand out.

Some styles like all black are timeless, but sometimes you want something with more flair and this involves following current trends. For swimwear, you should look for high cut bottoms, animal prints, belts, and accessories, and think about shopping from a sustainable brand. 

Wearing a suit that includes these characteristics will help ensure that you look stunning on the beach this summer! Don’t be afraid to be bold and try something that you haven’t thought about in the past.

Photo by margot pandone on Unsplash

Emma-Approved Shopping | Top Amazon Picks for Your Dog

- Dog Friendly, Emma Approved

Shop the Post
Pawz Dog Boots | Mini Lamb Chop Toy (Pack of 2) | Furminator Deshedding Hair Brush | Portable Dog Water & Food Bowls – Palm Print | Outdoor Dog Harness | Blazin’ Safety LED Dog Collar | Vegetable-Based, Biodegradable Poop Bags | Dog Stairs | Pink Tennis Balls

Emma certainly isn’t a stranger to her favorite items coming in the mail. Many online orders, especially from Amazon, come with something she loves (or a few of my picks that she hates but it’s good for her, like DOG BOOTS). Today, I wanted to share these because whether you are a new dog owner or looking for something helpful that’s dog-related, these items have been amazing for us! For reference, Emma is a miniature Australian Shepherd, roughly around 17 or 18 pounds. Australian Shepherds have double coats, an outside layer for weather protection and an inside layer for insulation.

Pawz Dog Boots
For the first few years we had Emma, we STRUGGLED hard with finding the right pair of dog booties to use when it was too cold or below zero. Using dog booties is SO important if you live in a colder climate. We haven’t had to use them as often in Boston, however, they come in just as handy for the rain. We tried a few pairs before discovering Pawz and haven’t looked back. These are basically like little rubber balloons (but more sturdy) that you stretch to fit over your dog’s paws. They come in different sizes, so be sure to get the right size for your pet. These stay ON and protect your fur baby’s paws. Emma used to be able to figure out how to hover in the snow and jump out of her other velcro booties, so I am SO thankful we found these when we did. They are fairly easy to get on after a few times of practicing. You can also reuse them more than once. Depending on salt content in your area, you can probably get 4 to 5 uses out of them before needing a new pair. Each pack comes with 12, so 3 sets of dog booties. We also now use them for the rain! Emma hates being outside in the rain and this actually helps her out when she’s going to the bathroom. It also is helpful to keep our place clean and not have her running around with wet paws and much simpler than using a towel to dry off her paws.

Mini Lamb Chop Toy (Pack of 2)
Emma really loves ALL of her toys, but she always comes back to her sheep toy, the Mini Lamb Chop. We call the toy “sheep” or “sheepy” and she knows exactly which toy we are talking about and will go get it to play fetch. The mini ones are the perfect size for her (she’s about 18 lb). This is a toy we often replace because she will eventually tear the toy open and pull out the stuffing. That’s why I like to get the two-pack! One usually lasts her a few months, during the period we deem she is “being nice” to her toy. Then she goes for the kill 🙂

Furminator Deshedding Hair Brush
As I mentioned in the intro, Emma has a double coat and she absolutely sheds. She has two major shedding seasons, the fall, and the spring, like most other double-coated dogs. They are shedding their heavier undercoat before spring to make way for a lighter coat and shed their lighter undercoat in the fall to make way for a heavier coat. As your pup might be right now, Emma is currently shedding like crazy! The Furminator is so helpful because it makes it simple to brush through just once to help alleviate some of the shedding. Just be careful to not OVERUSE it or you can create bald spots. Once a day, use the brush over the coat. This brush to me is the equivalent of the Wet Brush for my hair – it is so worth it!

Portable Dog Water & Food Bowls – Palm Print
I cannot emphasize how important it is to have multiple bowls/dishes on hand if you are active with your dog as we are. Between going to the beach, on hikes, long walks and taking her with us whenever we can – breweries, vacation, etc., portable water and food dishes are where it’s at. I love these because they are so easy to fold up conveniently and can work for both water (they are waterproof) or dog food. Plus, the palm pattern is wicked cute, right?! They are also non-toxic (SO important, I never used to pay attention to this) and have a convenient clip to attach to the leash, your belt loop, purse, etc. I can’t tell you the number of times we previously had to figure out some sort of dish to get her water, but now we keep a set in the car and I keep some in my purse because YES she is with us that often 🙂

Outdoor Dog Harness
This harness is extremely easy to put on and has some nice soft sponge cushioning and breathable with light-weight mesh. This makes it the perfect year-round harness when we are taking Emma to the beach and on long walks – whether it’s 25 or 80 degrees out!

Blazin’ Safety LED Dog Collar
Not only is Emma stylin’ in this adorable pink collar (it comes in 10 colors overall), it is also SO important if you walk or take your dog out when it’s dark. There are three LED light settings and it is rechargeable. I usually just have it on the first setting where the entire collar lights up, where it stays on, but sometimes use the blinking lights if we are in a more heavily trafficked or busy area. This collar has been amazing and makes me feel better taking Emma out! I’ve turned into the person that yells at cars to slow down, but it is crazy how quickly people drive on side roads where there are lots of children and dogs. Keep your fur babies safe with an LED-lit collar! As you might be able to tell, Emma loves pink 😉

Vegetable-Based, Biodegradable Poop Bags
These are the perfect bags and I swear it is not so unpleasant to use these to pick up after your dog! I’ve used other bags that are too thin, and yes, that is very important as a dog owner. These are a bit more pricey, but you can feel good using these biodegradable poop bags. They are also super easy to tear apart, unlike some other bags I’ve used in the past. They are also leak-proof and you know that’s important!

Dog Stairs
I honestly wish this was something we got her way sooner in life, but I’m so glad we have them now. Sometimes she is a sassy pants and chooses not to use them when we say “stairs” but overall she uses them to get into bed with us and thank goodness! She is turning eight this spring and while she still has a ton of energy and life in her, her legs just aren’t like they used to be. These stairs have worked well for us. They can be a bit of a pain to travel with since they don’t fold down, but they do have a convenient handle on the back. That way you can also move them to the living room if you want them for your couch as well. Also, for the price and the fact they also are aesthetically pleasing (gray goes with everything), I am so happy with this set. There are a lot of other sets available on Amazon that I’m sure are also great, but linking to the exact set we use.

Pink Tennis Balls
Hands down, our dog is a fetch dog. If your dog is a fetch dog then you know what I’m talking about when I say she would literally kill herself playing fetch, she won’t stop until you make her stop! She will also play fetch with anything AND everything – her mini Lamb Chop mentioned above, sticks, but her favorite toy to play fetch with is a tennis ball. We like to have a pack or two on hand to play fetch with her when we have a chance at a local dog park or for playing tennis because we do like to play tennis as well 🙂

What are your must-have dog items from Amazon? Or in general?! Let me know in the comments below!