Grocery Shopping for an Empty Nest

My girls left for 7 weeks of sleep away camp yesterday.  It’s their 5th summer at camp so you’d think I’d be used to the strange quiet of that first Saturday morning without them, and that feeling of being a little unmoored.  

But, I’m not.  

For the first few days I have this nagging sense that I forgot something. Not having to be responsible for being home at a certain time, not making sure dinner is on the table (or at least being summoned in some way), not hustling in the morning to get everyone out the door – these are weird sensations, and it takes a while to find a new way of being present.  

One of the things I tell people when they ask, “What’s it like to not have your kids around for 7 weeks?” is that it’s those little things that are the most unsettling. And then I always tell them about the first time I went grocery shopping after my girls left for camp for the first time, 5 years ago.  

I walked into a grocery store and just froze. I had no idea what I ate. What my husband ate. What WE ate. It’s not that my kids are picky eaters; it’s just that the items I am used to restocking week after week are the things that fill lunch boxes, create quick breakfasts, and produce dinner for four. Milk? Never drink it. Cereal? Haven’t had it in years. Pretzels, chips, cheese crackers? Have no use for them. Giant bunches of bananas or grapes? We’ll never get through them before they go bad. Suddenly I was at a total loss. I turned and walked out.

So, after 5 of summers like this I’ve figured it out. I get my basics online – nuts, tea, bread, paper goods – and then fill in during the week, when I know we will actually cook, with fish, veggies, fruit, etc. 

Like most New Yorkers I have tried every grocery delivery service. Some I’ve found really expensive, some I’ve found unreliable, and some have just been really yucky quality-wise. Peapod reached out to me when they launched their new NYC service and I thought I’d give it a try, most of all because they work through Stop n Shop and given how expensive my Manhattan neighborhood grocery stores are, I thought it would interesting to price compare. If I can get some suburban pricing delivered to my city door I’m all for it.

I ordered my child-free basics, and was happy to see tons of store brand options as well as a lot of incredibly well priced organic offerings for everything from almond milk to cashews to strawberries. The site is fairly simple to use, though the interface isn’t exactly beautiful.

Peapod by Stop and Shop  Online Grocery Shopping

But once you build a list you can keep reordering from that so you don’t have to go through the navigation hunt every time. There were an incredible amount of delivery times available, and big discounts on different days of the week and times. Most of all, it truly felt like shopping in a big suburban grocery store in the best way – lots and lots of options, specials, and both name and store brands. And you can sign up for a Stop & Shop loyalty card so you get those rewards points, just like a physical grocery store.

I’m all for more options in the grocery delivery business. It’s really the only way to know I will be able to cook healthy meals during the week after work. But, right now I’m happy that I didn’t have to have my yearly existential grocery store moment!

I was given a promotional code to shop at Peapod.com and try it out. All opinions are my own, as always.

Finding Cyber Deals in an Instant This Holiday Season (and a giveaway)

One of the things that drives me crazy is the constant tab and window hopping I do to compare prices across websites.  There are sites that will aggregate an item across sites but I never have much luck with them.  Often they show wrong items in their search or don’t really find the best deals.  So this year I tried out a new browser extension called Drop Down Deals, which conveniently does exactly what it says: drops down a little teaser that tells you about deals, coupons and free shipping for the site you’re on.  Right there – no clicking away endlessly, Googling “free shipping” or any of the other time-consuming bargain hunting tactics that make cyber shopping a chore.

For example, if you went to Macys.com or BestBuy.com and these merchants currently had coupons or deals available, Drop Down Deals would pop up a small box in the corner of your computer screen to let you know.  When clicked, a menu will literally drop down to show you all the current coupons or deals or promotions for the site.  No freaking out wondering if there is a magical coupon out there that you missed.

They also have their own deals on the Drop Down Deals site and free shipping offers too.  To kick off this week of 5 Days of Deals they will be sharing exclusive deals to users through their site, facebook page and twitter.  One caveat, the browser extension only works on Firefox when on a Mac, though on most browsers on a PC, but you can follow on their site, facebook or twitter from anywhere.

To kick off the spirit of giving and getting a deal this holiday season I am hosting a giveaway for a fab nylon messenger bag to give to the techie in your life. (or the mom ’cause the nylon makes this a great diaper bag too!) After all, what’s more fun than cyber bargain hunting on the go?

To enter to win the messenger bag you must do one of the following actions:

1. Follow Drop Down Deals on Twitter: @DropDownDeals 
2. Like Drop Down Deals on FaceBook: Drop Down Deals
3. Google +1 Drop Down Deals page: Here
Happy Bargain Hunting!
The contest ends on 12/14/2011.  Winner will be chosen by random.org.  Open to all US Residents 21+.  Drop Down Deals is the sponsor of this giveaway and is responsible for all fulfillment, winner validation and shipping.  Beccarama is not responsible for prize fulfillment.
I was compensated for this post and the giveaway by Drop Down Deals.  But all opinions are my own, as always.