A few months ago I wrote a post about Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program, which I personally love and have used for a few years now. When we were in the planning stages of that post, my daughter Britta mentioned that she prefers Amazon’s Prime Pantry program. I hadn’t really heard very much about Prime Pantry, but she assured me that it was as worthy of its own blog post as my beloved Subscribe & Save program was. So I gave her the assignment of writing an introduction to Prime Pantry, for your information as well as my own! Read More: How To Use Amazon’s Subscribe & Save Program
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Britta writes… I’m really excited to share my thoughts about Prime Pantry today! I’ve been using it regularly for about a year now, and sometimes I feel like kicking myself for not trying it sooner! I want to start by mentioning that I don’t think Prime Pantry is necessarily better than Subscribe & Save, it’s just different. Prime Pantry appeals to me and my style of shopping, while Subscribe & Save definitely works better for my mom. And I’ll tell you why that is!
I wouldn’t say I have control issues per se… I’d consider myself a “control enthusiast.” ;-) For example, I don’t have any of my recurring bills on auto-pay. I much prefer submitting my payments manually each month, so that I know for sure I’ve done it successfully and on time. On the other hand, my mom has ALL of her bills on auto-pay, and she pretty much thinks it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. She’s all about the “set it and forget it” options in our modern world, where I’m more of a “set it and hover nervously” kind of gal.
So if you know anything about Subscribe & Save, at this point you can probably see why my mom loves that program, and why it doesn’t really work for me. But luckily for us control enthusiasts, Amazon created an alternative to Subscribe & Save called Prime Pantry. The programs are similar in that you can buy many of the grocery store staples you need, but with Prime Pantry there are no subscriptions and no scheduled shipments. You get to decided what you want, how much you want, and when you want it.
What Is Prime Pantry, And How Does It Work?
The Prime Pantry program enables Amazon Prime members to purchase “everyday items at everyday prices.” Prime Pantry items are packed and shipped in dedicated boxes, which are a specific size and are shipped at a flat rate of $5.99 each. So even if you buy 3 items versus 13 items, you’ll still be charged the $6 shipping fee.
Since Prime Pantry boxes are a fixed size, each item you add to your order will fill a certain percentage of that box. Amazon keeps track of how full your box is as you go, which helps you get a better idea of how much space you have left for other items. For example, a package of toilet paper may fill 10% of the box, while a box of cotton swabs will fill about 1%. If you’re paying the $6 shipping fee, it obviously makes financial sense to buy more of what you need at once (though that’s not a hard and fast rule, as you’ll see below).
What Are The Benefits Of Prime Pantry?
1. Free Shipping Options
I wanted to mention this one first, because I know what you’re thinking – “Why would I pay $6 in shipping for one box when I can get free shipping on standard Amazon orders?” The good news is that there are two easy ways to get around that $6 shipping fee.
The first way is by selecting the No-Rush Shipping option on a separate Amazon order. When you checkout, you can choose from a few different shipping options, including the usual free two-day shipping option. One of the options you can choose is No-Rush Shipping, which earns you some sort of credit in exchange for a slower shipping time. One of the credits you can earn is a $6 credit towards your next Prime Pantry purchase. So if you’re buying something on Amazon that you don’t really need right away, forgoing the 2-day shipping can save you that $6 in the future!
The second way to get around the $6 shipping cost is by adding 5 “select items” to your Prime Pantry order. There’s a dedicated page for these items, and you can see how many you’ve added to your box as you shop. It’s definitely worth it to see if any of the items you’re shopping for qualify as one of the 5 items, because you may be able to get free shipping this way without even trying.
Grocery shopping can be pretty stressful for me, even at the best of times. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood in the same aisle of the store for 20 minutes, trying to decide what kind of toilet paper or pasta sauce I should get. Every item in the store comes in so many varieties and options. It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed at times! And if I happen to be shopping when the store is busy, I’m even more likely to be feeling stressed.
Prime Pantry gives me the option to browse for a lot of items online, from the comfort of my own home. I can weigh my options without worrying that I’m in the way, or without someone running me over with their shopping cart. And when I’m done deciding what to get, Amazon ships the items right to my door in just a couple of days.
3. Reasonable Quantities
Through Prime Pantry, I can buy items in regular sizes and quantities, just like you’d find at the grocery store. I know that buying things in bulk is an easy way to save money, and I love Costco runs as much as the next girl. But the reality is that I just don’t have a lot of extra space to store things in my two-bedroom apartment!
One of the items I regularly buy via Prime Pantry is toilet paper. It’s nice that I can buy a package that has 12 rolls of toilet paper, whereas a standard Amazon order of toilet paper would have anywhere from double to quadruple that number of rolls. My little two-bedroom apartment is simply not equipped to store 48 rolls of toilet paper at a time!
4. Choice & Variety
You have access to a surprisingly wide variety of items through Prime Pantry. Not only can you get household goods like paper products, cleaning supplies, and pet food, but you can also get snacks, drinks, shelf-stable foods, office supplies, supplements, and much more.
And there are plenty of choices available for each item, too. (But not too many, which is great news for those of us who tend to struggle when faced with too many options.) There are plenty of natural and organic options for foods, cleaning products, and baby items.
In my experience, the standard prices for Prime Pantry items are comparable to most grocery stores. There are plenty of opportunities for discounts too! Many items have clickable coupon offers, from $.50 off to $2 off or more. There’s also a clearance section where you can find even steeper discounts on certain items.
How I Use Prime Pantry
There’s no right or wrong way to do it, but I thought I’d share my system just so you can get an idea of how it could work for you and your family.
When I’m making a shopping list, I sort it into two parts – things I can order via Prime Pantry, and things I’ll have to get at the grocery store. My Prime Pantry list often includes things like toothpaste, deodorant, trash bags, hot sauce, bandaids, granola bars, and toilet cleaner. Everything that I can’t find on Prime Pantry goes on the grocery store list, including things like fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, and specialty food items.
I can’t emphasize enough how much less stress I experience at the grocery store now. My shopping lists are much shorter, and the choices I have to make are generally easier too (conventional vs. organic, and that kind of thing). It makes life at home less stressful too, because we don’t run out of things nearly as often as we used to. Now when I see I’m running low on something, I can easily pull out my phone and add that item to my next Prime Pantry box so I won’t accidentally forget about it.