Drive-thru grocery: A busy parent's dream come true?

Loblaws announced a drive-thru grocery store in Toronto, with the hopes that other cities will follow. Here's why parents across the country should rejoice.

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Photo: iStockphoto

Grocery shopping with kids can often tests the limits of your patience and sanity as a parent.

The following are common phrases that are usually uttered inside grocery stores when kids are around:

“I said NO. We’re not getting that.”

“Don’t lick the shopping cart handle.”

“Did you just eat my grocery list?”

The whole experience can leave you wishing for an alternative to the 40-minute ride through lunacy on a wobbly cart. Now, it appears as though one grocery store in Canada is toying with the idea of throwing parents a life preserver. This week, the Internet was filled with rumours about how Loblaws is set to unveil its first drive-thru grocery store in suburban Toronto. In western Canada, Save-On-Foods has launched a similar idea this year, which allows customers to pre-order their groceries and pick them up from the store.

Read more: 11 tips to save time and money at the grocery store>

The concept seems like it’s tailor-made for parents. Consider this scenario: It’s the middle of winter and you have two fussy kids wearing bulky snowsuits in the backseat. But instead of unbuckling them and facing a cold and biting wind to walk into the grocery store, you just remained seated inside your cozy car while an employee loads your food into the trunk. You could even let the kids watch a DVD in the backseat while you’re waiting—although listening to an episode of Dora the Explorer could be a different type of hell altogether.

The drive-thru option would also eliminate the conundrum that some parents face when they just want to run into the store to pick up some bread and milk.

“Can I leave my kids in the car while I run a five-minute errand?”

Now you don’t have to navigate that ethical landmine because everybody can just stay in the car while the groceries are delivered. It seems like this could end up being a win-win situation for parents.

Read more: Is it ever OK to leave your child alone in the car?>

There are a couple of minor drawbacks to ponder because no system can ever be considered perfect or foolproof. For instance, I wonder about how the employees will pick out the fruit and vegetables on my behalf. Do they have the same concept of ripeness that I do? To be brutally honest, I probably wouldn’t trust the executor of my will to pick out an avocado for me, so will I be satisfied by the selection made by a random teenaged employee? Probably not.

And what about the timing of this? I assume that when I submit an online order I will have a set time to come and pick up my items. But as all parents know, we can tend to run a few minutes behind because trying to get a toddler to put on their shoes is very much like negotiating with a terrorist. If I’m 20 minutes late to pick up my stuff, will that result in melted popsicles? Possibly.

Still, these seem like small prices to pay to avoid a shopping experience with kids. Imagine loading up your entire car full of groceries and not having to walk down the cereal aisle with your child. They won’t even get a chance to hound you for the cereal with the most sugar and marshmallows because they won’t see the inside of the store.

If this concept takes off, perhaps they can expand it to other realms. What about a drive-thru doctor’s office? You would simply roll down the back window for your child to get their shot. I can see the neon-flashing slogan already: Booster shot in the booster seat.

The drive-thru possibilities are endless.

Follow along as Ottawa-based sports radio host Ian Mendes gets candid about raising daughters, Elissa and Lily, with his wife, Sonia. Read all of Ian’s The Good Sport posts and follow him on Twitter @ian_mendes.

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