I Don’t Have a Kevin and I Don’t Know How Much Broccoli Weighs

Closed cup mushroom

From what I understand, online supermarket shopping is much more popular in the UK than in many other places, most of the big supermarkets here now deliver to most of the country. So I thought I’d give a little run down of what it’s like for those of you who might not have experienced it. Personally I’m a huge fan – from the comfort of your home, you just click a few keys on your keyboard and voila! Next thing you know, a nice man arrives on your doorstep with your week’s shopping, and all you have to do is flash him a smile and then put your groceriesย away. What’s not to love?

You generally get a bit of a laugh and banter with the friendly delivery drivers too, so that adds to the enjoyment of the experience. One time, two delivery guys arrived, one was in training I learned, and when I answered the door, the other one pointed at him and said “He’s the one who sounds like your Kevin!” and they both laughed raucously, so I laughed raucously too even though I didn’t have the slightest idea what they were talking about. I don’t have a Kevin. Most of the time though I do understand what it is that we’re all laughing about so that’s good.

Of course it’s not all plain sailing. Sometimes you can spend as long doing your online order as you would physically going to the supermarket, especially the first few times you do it. But navigating the website isn’t the biggest issue.

One of the issues is substitutions. Just because a product is in stock at the time you place the order doesn’t mean it will still be in stock at the time they pack your order, so in most deliveries you get at least one substitution. Usually their substitutions make sense – a different brand of the same product, or a different variety, or a different pack size. Sometimes they’re a bit strange though, once when the toothpaste I had ordered was out of stock they substituted a toothbrush instead, and another time I ordered hamster food and they substituted rabbit food. It’s ok though, you can refuse the substitutions at the door if they’re not suitable. But substitutions aren’t the biggest issue either.

The biggest issue is pack sizes and weights. It’s not until you start ordering groceries online that you realise how much you shop for food by assessing quantities visually. Suddenly you’re being called upon to say how much broccoli you want by weight – I don’t know, I just want one head of broccoli. What does that weigh? Does anyone know? Everyone who regularly orders groceries online will have funny stories of quantities being much more or much less than they had expected when they ordered. The photo of the mushroom at the top of this page was from one of my recent orders, I thought I was selecting one pack of mushrooms, but when it arrived it was just the one mushroom. I always think the packers must derive great amusement when they’re putting the orders together, knowing perfectly well that you probably didn’t want enough bacon to feed a small nation for a month, or a block of cheese the size of a dice.

For me though, the positives definitely outweigh the negatives, I still pop into supermarkets in person for bits and top ups, but my big shops are mainly online now.

Do you do any supermarket shopping online? If so, please do share your funny weight/pack size stories, I know you’ll have some!

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57 responses to “I Don’t Have a Kevin and I Don’t Know How Much Broccoli Weighs

  1. Interesting. That service is available in the US too, but I don’t know a single person who uses it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, from a bit of research I did online we’re definitely one of the leading countries for using it, not sure why it’s taken off so much more here really. The majority of supermarket shopping is still done in store here, but the online is a growing area.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t know if it’s available in Canada, probably in big cities. I don’t know anyone who uses it. I will have to look into it and see if it’s available. I know it’s not where I live.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well according to one of my other commenters further down, they’ve seen the grocery delivery trucks in Canada. I imagine in some areas there where the population is too spread out it just wouldn’t be logistically very feasible, I don’t know though.

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  3. I don’t have the option to grocery shop online where I live, but I’d definitely like it. What introvert wouldn’t? But yes, the produce would be tricky. Imagine trying to quantify green beans. I have no idea how many my family of four eats. 20 each? 30? I’ll have to pay closer attention…

    Liked by 2 people

    • This isn’t the first time you’ve made me realise that the reason I like something might be because of the introvert thing – it hadn’t occurred to me that this might be a factor in my delight over the online supermarket shop! Even though I enjoy the banter with the delivery drivers, I do actually feel a slight bit of nerves when I first hear the truck pull up but as soon as the interaction starts, I’m fine, and it’s all over in a couple of minutes!

      I actually get a veg box delivered from a local farm shop, and I don’t have to pick what what goes in there, so that’s easier! So I don’t buy much veg in my online supermarket shop, but there’s usually a couple of bits I need.

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  4. They are just starting this in limited areas around Houston. Really great potential (once you get the sizes in your head).
    Funny, there used to be a small local grocery store in one part of town that had a lot of old people in it. Our neighbor was the butcher. A very small friendly place where people knew your names. Some of those older people had raised families and been customers so long, that they were almost family, too. So the stock boys or sackers were happy to gather a phoned in order and carry groceries to people in the neighborhood when they could no longer manage the sidewalks or drive. We all thought it was very wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I guess it will only be in the bigger cities in places like the US and Canada because of the more dispersed population in other areas. That’s lovely about them delivering to those older people just to be helpful and kind! I love community spirit.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. A couple days ago, my girlfriend and I were making our morning walks and one of those grocery delivery vans passed us (yes, this is in Canada!) I mentioned I wouldn’t like to use them because personal grocery shopping was enjoyable—so much more than department shopping.
    Having read your post, Vanessa, I had no idea one needs to specify exact size / weight and brand–please no substitutions.
    For shut-ins or infirm, I see this as a fantastic opportunity. I need to see and feel my veggies for as long as I can, and, first-hand. ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know what you mean about wanting to choose first hand, but really after a day’s work the last thing I want to do is drag myself around the supermarket, or give up a big chunk of one of my weekend days. I enjoy food shopping in little specialised food shops, or even in supermarkets if I’m in the mood and have time, but mostly it’s a drag. Plus all those big heavier items – washing powder, cat food and litter, bottles and jars and cans, it’s much easier for them to just bring it all to you!

      I was just saying to Carrie, I have a veg box delivered from a local farm shop, so I don’t get much veg from the supermarket, just a couple of bits each time really.

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      • Sure. I can understand how you hate shopping.
        I do mine on the way home from the bookstore every Wednesday because it’s on the way and saves me making a special trip to buy groceries. Sometimes, Wednesdays are the only day I leave my house. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Yeah. Sometimes. o_O

        Liked by 1 person

  6. That’s hilarious they delivered one mushroom! I bet they get a real chuckle. There’s one store around here that delivers, but I’ve never looked into it. I bet I would like it once I knew how much to order. I sure get tired of going to the store.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a drag isn’t it. Sometimes it can be nice to browse food items and pick things out, but a lot of what we get from the supermarket are just repeat things that we get regularly and that’s where the online is great, it saves what you order so you can go through your regular stuff and click the ones you want to reorder rather than having to keep finding it on there each time.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Enjoy your mushroom! That looks fun to do your shopping from home, but I would not be good at figuring out weights and stuff. A dice of cheese would probably make me cry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, you get to learn the weights and stuff with some of the regular things you get, but I often get caught out when it’s something different and maybe it looks like a big on the picture and I think “Oh that’s good value, there’ll be enough for all us there” and then when it arrives it’s a small pack just enough for one person or whatever.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh the one mushroom wins the prize. I also do online shopping but there are no substitutions. If it is not available you are told so while logged in.
    Here the delivery time varies between 3pm and 9pm and your groceries are left in a sealed plastic bin at your door. In the middle of a very cold snap this winter I was out for a couple hours and when I came home brought my bin in. Usually items such as milk and yogurt are packaged in insulated bags so they don’t get too warm. At -20C the same method was used. My bananas and peppers frozen rock solid while my milk luxuriated in its styrofoam bag so as not to get too hot. Go figure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah you’re the first commenter to say you do it too! And outside of the UK! They do tell you if something is unavailable when you’re ordering, but they don’t hold things for you once you’ve ordered, so things can go out of stock afterwards – I wonder if they have a different system there then where it is effectively held for you once you’ve ordered.

      Here the delivery times run all day, from quite early in the morning till quite late at night, you pick your slot at the time of ordering, some supermarkets offer two hour windows, and some offer one hour. You have to have someone home to receive it, they would never leave it outside.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. My wife tried it for the first time two weeks ago. They delivered an onion the size of a Buick. The quality of the food was fine but it came in gigantic proportions. We think the service is mainly for restaurants and Mormons. It was a little more expensive, too. Not sure we’ll repeat the process.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s interesting that it’s more expensive, ours are the exact same prices as you pay in store. You do have to pay a delivery charge but it’s small, it varies by supermarket and by time and day of delivery, but I generally make sure I get one of the ยฃ1 (about $1.50) delivery slots which is definitely less than I would spend on fuel driving to the supermarket.

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  10. I was surprised to see that this has not been tried in the US by most of your readers. I think it is mostly available in major metro areas but I have seen some smaller delivery services which have a limited selection, here in Florida.

    My first introduction to online shopping was in California when I was extremely busy. The service I had was top notch and I never had any of the issues you experienced. We also never had substitutions…we got what we ordered. Mind you, this service was about 25% more than the grocery store but for a short time it suited my needs. I think I stopped using it when I started shopping at Whole Foods, a major health food chain that did not deliver.

    My second experience with it was just in the last year. My octogenarian aunt lives in a major metro area in Virginia which has all sorts of weather. Her driving skills aren’t the greatest in dry weather and I watched her shop while visiting. It really was quite an ordeal for her and I couldn’t imagine how she did when it was raining or snowing…walking with two ski poles just to stand and walk normally. So I found a delivery service and set her up. While I was there we had a delivery just to make sure it worked. It worked fine but we learned that ice cream melts by the time it arrives so if you want ice cream you have to make a special trip. She’s been using it for about 8 months now and loves it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Another commenter from the states mentioned it being more expensive, ours is the same prices as in store with a small delivery charge which is, in my case at least, less than it would cost me in fuel to drive there.

      We don’t have that ice-cream problem either, they have chillers in the trucks to keep the frozen stuff frozen.

      It’s definitely a good thing as far as I’m concerned!

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  11. As an introvert, I agree, it would be nice to not have to actually see and talk to people to get my groceries. (Although I have found that doing my yoga stance while in line does help get people to avert their eyes and not come near me). ๐Ÿ™‚ We have some of those grocery services in the states, but the ones that are doing the best are the ones I use, which is more paper goods – the t.p. and the paper towels, cleaning supplies, toothpaste, etc. It does take forever to order on-line at first, but then you have a ‘most-used’ list to go back to every time you order, which makes it faster. No funny stories from my experiences – I think in the states they wouldn’t DARE substitute what you asked for. They’d get sued!!! :-0

    Like

    • Well remember you do have to talk to people at the door when they deliver! Plus, if you find anything wrong with the order after they’ve gone, you have to, gulp, call them on the phone!

      Well sometimes the substitutions work in your favour, mostly the supermarkets do this thing where if the substitution costs less than what you ordered, you obviously pay the lower price, but if it costs more, you don’t pay any more than you would have for what you ordered, so quite often I’ve ended up with something better, like a bigger pack size for the same price, or a branded product when I’d ordered generic!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Great post, Vanessa! I do have to admit, though, I wasn’t expecting a post on grocery delivery service. The title made me think “Veggie Tales”, with Larry the Cucumber and Bob the Tomato. Or maybe minions…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, that’s funny! I like to go with cryptic titles sometimes for fun – when I first wrote up this post I called it “The joys and pitfalls of online supermarket shopping”, but I changed it at the last minute! I lived in the states for a few years when my daughter was born, and we stayed there till she was nearly 3, and I remember she really liked Veggie Tales, they had catchy songs didn’t they. Anyway I haven’t seen it since (she’s 16 now), I don’t think it made it over to the UK, but we did buy a Veggie Tales beach towel back then that we still have, otherwise I think I’d have forgotten about those guys by now!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. TermiteWriter

    Don’t get me started! When my so-called friend stopped taking me to the grocery, I tried ordering from King Soopers ($11.00 delivery charge). It was fun for the first couple of times, but then it got to be a big pain. Twice they left stuff out of the order, left it in the truck, etc. (they just dump the order in the kitchen and leave and you don’t get a chance to check it until after they’re gone), and I had to call Denver to get it straightened out. And then as you say, the quantitiesI I ordered a half-gallon of mllk and they sent a gallon jug, which I can barely lift and besides it takes me maybe six weeks to drink a gallon of milk, so I ended up throwing out half of it. And the tomatoes were never what I expected. Now I just hire a personal aide to take me to the grocery store. She drives me, carries the groceries in and out, helps put them away, etc. And I get what I want. It’s worth the money!

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    • That’s a pretty expensive delivery charge! A couple of the other commenters were saying that the groceries are more expensive too over there when you order online, whereas here it’s the same prices as you pay in store. Our delivery charges vary between the supermarkets and between which day and time you select, but I usually aim to pick a ยฃ1 (approx $1.50) slot. I don’t find they make mistakes on the quantities, it’s me that makes mistakes at the point of ordering! Glad you have an aide now, that sounds like a better solution for you!

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  14. In the UK online grocery shopping has been available for almost 10 years, it is now virtually country wide and what a huge boon and blessing it is.
    I first started using it when I was laid up with a badly broken leg and ankle and it made life so much easier.
    Most of the big supermarket chains offer the service, needless to say some are better than others. The other service they offer is for you to order online, and then you can collect from the supermarket at an agreed time. This is a bonus for those who work and can order during their lunch break and collect on their way home.
    As to the quality and quantities of produce, it is infinately flexible. You ask about broccoli – well you can order by weight ( I rarely do that) or by item ie a single head of broccoli – small/medium/large. Substitutions are not a problem – you can tick a box saying no substitutions, or if you are given substitutions the delivery person shows you them and you can reject them if unsuitable.
    I have had some glitches – pressed the wrong key without noticing and ordered 6 large chickens by mistake – silly me!
    Now I live in Beijing, and every fortnight I do a grocery order online for my 91yr old mum who lives in Scotland! We rarely find anything amiss with fresh fruit, vegetables etc – it is an absolute godsend. Thank god for online shopping, and for the interwebbthing. Its bloody brilliant!

    BTW – as to what an earlier commenter said, if I order ice cream it is kept in a special freezer compartment of the delivery van so arrives just as it should be.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes it really is a blessing! Most times I find the substitutions fine, and I prefer to have them than not, so I never tick the no substitutions box, and it’s rare that I’ve turned away a substitution at the door – although I did turn away the rabbit food when I’d ordered hamster food as I don’t have a rabbit! I also find they’re good if you discover a problem after they’ve left, you call them and they reimburse you no problem.

      Yes I was surprised about the ice-cream comment, as you say they have the right cooling equipment in the vans so I’ve never had a problem with frozen goods arriving unfrozen.

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  15. I’ve never ordered food online. I think it must be more of a “thing” here in the big cities, but in the boondocks, we drive to everything.

    What culinary delight did you fix with your mushroom?

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    • It definitely must be more of a thing in the bigger cities there – they need a lot of people all living quite close to each other to make it viable sending the truck around I guess.

      I had ordered the mushrooms to throw into some casserole I was making, so I sliced the one mushroom up and put it in anyway, then it was like a game at eating time – who would be the lucky person to find a piece of mushroom!

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  16. I could never do this. Never. I need to see and feel the stuff I buy. I need to examine the bananas for bruises and make sure the broccoli doesn’t have too much stem. And nobody’s gonna substitute anything on my behalf, thank you very much!

    On another note. I know the delivery guy you’re referring to — and he does sound like your Kevin. So stop making trouble.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know what you mean, there are some products that are definitely better bought by hand selecting them yourself, and I do still go in store pretty regularly too, but for boxes and packets and jars and cleaning stuff and pet food and all that, I don’t need to pick it off the shelf myself, someone else can do that for me and bring it to me ๐Ÿ™‚ Mostly the substitutions are fine, like you’ve ordered a large jar of mayonnaise but they send two smaller ones instead, I can live with that! And they do tell you about the substitutions at the door so that you can decline them if you want, or even if you realise later that they weren’t suitable, you call them up and they’ll just reimburse you no problem without asking for the goods back or anything, so they’re pretty good on the customer service front.

      How do you know about my Kevin? I didn’t think anyone knew!

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  17. That is really quite interesting. I know that some people do that around here, but I have no experience with it. What a fascinating little tidbit of knowledge into the wild and crazy world of on-line shopping! Thank you for that. And thank Kevin for me too! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    • From reading what a couple of the other commenters here have said who have tried it in the states, I don’t think it’s quite as good as the system here, we’ve been doing it for a good number of years here and overall it’s a really good service ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Interesting, a mushroom you say? … but Kevin says he feels a bit hurt that you should be in denial about him …

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Vis a vis Kevin – I don’t know this imposter you are all talking about – we laobeijingren know that Kevin is the sweet chap who has the booze stall in San Yuan Li market (43% Gordons Gin for ยฃ7.00 a bottle!).
    Like most Chinese he has taken a western name – and in his case he chose it because of Kevin Costner. There you go.

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I was at primary school one of my best friends was a Chinese girl and I remember always being quite confused about why her parents were called something like Keith and Brenda when they’d been born in China! It was only many years later I found out about the taking of a western name thing.

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  20. Never ordered groceries online … not sure I would … well, unless I had physical issues. You have enhanced the fear of only getting one mushroom – something I’ve never imaged. So now funny stories from me, but I like the ridiculous warnings on packaging.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Home delivery is available in our area, and I see the trucks out and about, so somebody must be making use of the services. But I have no idea who that could be since everyone I know still goes to the store. The sizes would get me, too, but I think my biggest (and probably pointless) fear would be that they wouldn’t necessarily choose the same fresh produce that I would!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know exactly what you mean, and actually the majority of my fresh produce I don’t buy via my online supermarket order. Having said that though, the bits I do order have generally been perfectly good and seem to have been well selected – I do wonder if that’s something they’re aware might put people off ordering online and so take extra care in the selection.

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  22. Wow that sounds really awesome! I live in Kentucky so we are usually behind the times of the stuff going on in the rest of the US, so I’m not familiar with anyone who has this type of service available. I don’t drive so I usually only go to the store once every two weeks when a friend takes me, and being able to buy online would be so much easier! That’s it, i’m moving to the UK!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I think there must be some places that offer this service in the US, just none that I frequent! It sounds like fun, but also a learning experience. Now I’m wondering how many pounds of produce I actually buy in person! I have no idea. I just pick what looks pretty and go!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, all the major supermarkets here do it, it’s only the discount/warehouse type ones that don’t. Some of the other commenters who have experienced it in the US said that it was more expensive than in store, but here it’s the regular store prices, there is a delivery charge which varies depending on what day and time you pick, but if you pick your slot carefully, as I do, you can get the delivery for ยฃ1 (approx $1.50), so nothing to complain about there!

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Ha! That mushroom is hilarious! How can you even tell what it looks like behind all that plastic? A few stores here in Calgary tried to launch online shopping, but it didn’t catch on. I wasn’t interested because I never know what produce I want until I see it in the store. Sometimes I go thinking I’d like a specific fruit or vegetable, only to discover some horrid wrinkled travesty squatting malevolently on the shelf. Those are the days I thank my lucky stars I’m shopping in person, and choose something else instead. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know, there’s more plastic than mushroom isn’t there! I liked how they printed the label in singular too “Closed Cup Mushroom”, just the one. I know what you mean about produce. There are definitely some downsides to the online grocery shopping, but for me the plus points definitely outweigh the negatives. I certainly don’t do all my grocery shopping that way, but I’m very glad it exists!

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