Tackling Tesco Online
Pix's Column

Bright lights, queues and broken trolleys - isn't there a better way to shop? Pix tries ordering his groceries online.

Three onions and half a Chinese lettuce: the sad contents of an unloved salad drawer. In the shop, these vegetables are thrilling items filled with potential, tightly packed parcels of flavour bearing the promise of stir fries, stews and soups. But give them a couple of weeks in the fridge and they end up with all the appeal of old shoes. Best just to have a sandwich.

Sustenance is a continual concern for the young homeowner. It's all very well swanning round Waitrose when your entire wage is disposable income, frittering away your hard-earned cash on Organic Nicaraguan Single Estate Peanuts and Sun Dried Cornish Swan, but once you've got council tax, bills and a mortgage bearing down on your bank balance like a pack of angry bailiffs, you have to scale back. Goodbye to aspirational food, hello to bog roll, Domestos and beans.

"It took three attempts to find the correct spelling of yoghurt"

Mindful of the inherent drudgery of the weekly shop, modern life has offered up an alternative: internet supermarkets. If manhandling a wonky trolley down an aisle full of cheese isn't your idea of a fun packed Friday night, it's now possible to plan your forthcoming meals without even having to stand up. When you're the kind of person for whom simply ironing a shirt feels like two months in prison, the sheer, unadulterated laziness of online food stores is an incredible draw. Thus I fired up my computer and headed to Tesco Online.

Ten minutes later, it emerged that I should have brought a shopping list. Actual supermarkets have a physical structure, which is an immeasurable help to the disorganised customer. Restocking the kitchen is as simple as ambling aimlessly past every shelf and tipping anything brightly coloured into the trolley. Once you've reached the end: hey presto, 20 dinners. But you can't do that on the web, where mere minutes of browsing and the random stream of text and images converts your brain to mush. Hence recipes, pen, paper, planning. 25 minutes later I descended on the "search" bar with the precision of a military campaign.

There were pitfalls. It took three attempts to find the correct spelling of yoghurt, and a messy scramble through thousands of deserts to find the plain version I wanted. A quibble over the accepted syntax of couscous threw me once or twice, unwaxed lemons proved initially tricky and the failure of the cyber-store to admit to stocking fresh basil led me on a five minute wild goose chase through every section that looked like it might contain something green. Eventually, however, my basket was full.

Delivery options are entertaining. Pick a prime slot and you can expect to pay through the nose, but plump for a knock in the middle of the night and it's just shy of £4.00. It didn't seem too much to ask, as the army of invisible butlers who were about to commence hand picking my goods and driving them to my house doubtless had families to feed. I typed in my debit card details and clicked the button to pay.

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Then I looked at the time. The entire process had taken me one-and-a-quarter hours. Driving to Morrisons down the road would have taken half that time, with the added bonus that I wouldn't still be hungry. Then again, it would also have involved standing up.

Tune in next week for the shopping's thrilling arrival.

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