Curbside grocery pickup secrets to save time

Order online, pick up at the curb, it's the way thousands of families in our area do their weekly grocery shopping these days. 

H-E-B, Kroger and Walmart all have curbside pickup. It's about as convenient as you can get when it comes to grocery shopping, but there will be mistakes. 

Consumer expert Amy Davis is sharing some tricks to make your curbside pickup as hassle-free as possible. 

Avoid peak shopping times

You can schedule your grocery pick-up at any available time slot at HEB, Kroger or Walmart, but keep in mind the times that the pick-up lanes will be most busy. Kroger said peak time for ClickList are every day between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., especially Sundays and Mondays. Consider scheduling your pick-up on a Saturday or any day before 4 p.m. or after 7 p.m. to get in and out fast. 

You can customize your order

When you order online, use the "Special instruction" section on Kroger Clicklist or the "notes" section for HEB to customize your order. 

"You can include information as to how ripe you want your fruit, what cut of meat you want," explained Kroger's Sparkle Anderson. 

Last year, Davis meant to order three russet potatoes through Kroger's Clicklist, but she ended up with three 10-pound bags of potatoes. To make sure that doesn't happen again, anytime she orders fruit or vegetables, she types in the comments. "I want three apples, not three pounds of apples," or whatever produce she is ordering.  

Don't forget coupons

If you still clip manufacturer's coupons, you can only use those with ClickList at Kroger. Just bring them with you. The store now also shows you digital coupons you can use when you order items online. 
HEB doesn't take manufacturer coupons, but it will show you yellow store coupons you can use when you place your order on its website. 

Walmart's grocery pickup doesn't accept coupons at all. 

Online ordering gets easier the more you do it

The first time you place an order online, it may take some time to find the products you buy each week but the websites remember what you ordered. That makes follow-up orders easier because the site populates with items you already purchased. 

Cost of service

Walmart's is the only service that is always free. They don't charge you anything to do your shopping for you.

H-E-B and Kroger both charge $4.95. Your first four shops are free at HEB. At Kroger, your first three shops are free. 

The store pays for its mistakes

If Kroger makes a mistake on your order requiring a trip back to the store, they will refund your $4.95 service charge. If your store offers grocery delivery, they will sometimes offer to bring an item to you if they left it out of your original order. 

Save the curbside number in your phone

There is a phone number to call when you arrive at the store to pick up your groceries. Save that number in your phone. When you get home, if there are problems with your order, calling that number will be quicker than calling the main store number and asking to be transferred to the right department.

Right now, when you refer a friend to Walmart's grocery pick-up service, you will get a $10 off coupon when they place their first order.