Food, food, food, oh my gosh, food!

As much as the duck and I pride ourselves on being able to easily adapt to a new environment, there are a few things that we just don’t want to can’t do without. The duck needs those oats and I need that tea. And, after our first few shopping trips, we realized that the supermarkets within (a reasonable) walking distance from our home would not be able to cater to our intense tea and oatmeal cravings and our existence as stingy sustenance supporters. Remember the 350 yen mini pack of oats and 25 yen tea bags we found going grocery shopping? With our tea and oat consumption we’d end up broke and incredibly sad after a few weeks. So, in order to keep our cheap lifestyle more or less intact, we decided to give the Internet’s grocery section a try and ordered some personal happiness in a box off iHerb.

Duck in a box

Just look at how happy the duck was when the parcel finally arrived!
Not having much experience in ordering food online, we made ourselves a little list of things to look out for the next few times (it might not be of any use to you, but we’ll still put it on here – nobody can stop us, haha!):

A new peak in our laziness

First of all, we ordered from iHerb (and are rather particular about certain things), so some of those tips might be rather specific though I’m sure that some of them work with other digital grocery stores, too. Anyway, here are our little notes to ourselves:

  1. Be pretty clear about what you actually want to buy and put those items in your shopping cart first. You would not believe how many hours we’ve spent just browsing the site for foods we might want to get – and since, in the duck’s and my world, internet shopping does not compare to the adventures to be had at a physical grocery store, all this browsing feels like wasted time. Once we have all the items that we feel we need we allow ourselves to browse randomly  for a while, mostly to surpass the free shipping threshold.
  2. TEA!

    Pure beautea!

    Make use of free shipping. While I think having to pay for shipping is generally not a bad thing because it makes you reconsider buying certain items that you might not really need – the duck and I are stingy so not having to pay for shipping is not too bad either. Because of that, while picking out the food we were going to order, we made sure to order larger quantities of items we were sure we would reorder anyway. That’s how we ended up with five boxes of tea and three 900g bags of oatmeal.

  3. If something seems unbelievably cheap and you know you’ll be using it up quickly, order as much as your storage space allows you to. This one we had to learn the hard way. When we ordered our oats they were around 300 yen a bag (so over three times cheaper than the grocery store equivalent). However, thinking that buying too much would eat up space, we decided to just order more next time. And, when we were about to order more the next time, the price had more than doubled! We might have cried a bit when we checked and re-checked several times within two weeks without seeing the price go down again. So, be smart, learn from our mistakes!
  4. If it’s not urgent, wait for good offers. I’m pretty sure that no matter where you order, there will be the occasional offers that just seem to have read your mind – giving you a discount on exactly what you (think you) really need. So, after having more or less figured out how often and how offers change, we occasionally check if any of the items on our to-buy-list have become cheaper – this works the best if you are pretty flexible with brands. Here’s an example: The duck and I have a weakness for peanut butter but we also know that having a jar of peanut butter at home can be dangerous (my record for finishing a 650g jar of peanut butter is about five days – only because I constantly told myself to be strong and not eat it all in one sitting) – so we had put a jar of powdered peanut butter on our wish list instead (more effort to prepare it → smaller chance of finishing half a jar in an afternoon; laziness beats gluttony). When we were ready to order we found out that there was a promotion for peanut powder of the house brand. So, we went with that instead.

    Food heaven

    A bed of oats!

  5. Take shipping time into consideration. I know this one is difficult when you order for the first time. In fact, our first order arrived two days before the opening of the delivery window which made us realize that living in Tokyo can do this to your orders (we have experienced items being delivered a day after we ordered with standard delivery!). Actually, trusting the estimated delivery dates for our first food order had us pretty scared for a couple of hours when the tracking site told us that the package had already reached our city but the duck and I, thinking it would arrive in two days the earliest, had made lunch plans. We had already started writing a super apologetic letter to leave behind for our new house mates who might have to accept the 10kg delivery for us when there was a knock at our door just minutes before we had to leave. Phew! From that day on we always tried to order so that we would probably be home in the mornings of the estimated delivery dates plus one or two days before.
  6. Enjoy your food! And never stop searching for alternatives in the offline world. Even though we love the laziness aspect of ordering food online, we prefer this to be more of an occasional treat rather than our main source of edible happiness. We still buy all our tea on iHerb because we yet have to find a shop in Tokyo that matches their variety and prices. But pretzels and reasonably priced oatmeal (the not-so-cool kind, unfortunately), for example, we’ve already found in physical shops while purposefully wandering around Tokyo. Now, at least, we have alternatives that allow us to buy those foods without having a poor Yamato delivery man haul them up to the front door for us.

This has just been a small list of things we’ve learned having joined the online-food-ordering-club. I’m sure there are lots more (=lots more mistakes to be made) that we have yet to discover!

Now, let’s all enjoy a good cup of tea while dreaming of oat-beds, shall we?

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