All Rice to No Rice- Peace Corps Evacuee to Instacart Employee

I finally emerged from two weeks of quarantine, 10 pounds heavier and caught up on Netflix. The need to take action overcame me. After all I had essentially been laid off, deported, evacuated, whatever you want to call it, from Peace Corps Senegal. Turns out the job search is pretty difficult while there is a global pandemic raging around us. Days of exploring online led me to Instacart. After spending most of my week working, I made over $1000! I am here to share how I did it and how it’s possible for anyone to do the same!

Getting Hired

For those that don’t know, Instacart is a grocery shopping and delivery service. The demand for groceries is exploding, and many do not want to put themselves at risk going by to the store. Instead they order through the Instacart app. A shopper accepts the order, fills it, and delivers it to their door. I applied online and filled out some forms. There is no interview and they almost immediately accepted my application pending a background check. About five days later the card to buy the groceries with arrived in the mail. That same day my background check cleared. I was ready to start shopping!

The Experience

I woke up the next day full of energy, ready to start making money. I opened the app and hastily accepted an order for a nearby grocery store. By the time I was showered and drove to the store the order had disappeared from my app. I guess I had taken to long to get to the store. I looked for a new order and accepted a one for fifteen items thinking I should start small. I got into the store and started shopping, scanning each item with my phone and making replacements when the store was out of something (this happens a lot). It took me about 45 minutes to fill (horrendously slow) and 10 minutes to deliver.

My confidence building, I completed five more orders that day and made $157! Not bad for a first day. The rest of the week my speed increased dramatically and my earnings per hour kept going up. Now I am on my second week and consider it a bad day if I don’t make more than $25 per hour. I even received a $100 cash tip from a very appreciative customer! This is almost certainly not the norm, but a very pleasant surprise. The table below shows my performance after my first week.

My first week made me over $1000!

Some days prove more lucrative than others. I am quickly finding a balance between waiting for a good order with a nice tip to come along versus accepting anything that pops up. My speed in the store is greatly increasing as I learn where everything is. My strategy is to knock out the produce section and then move aisle by aisle grabbing items, finally hitting frozen foods before checking out. A big time saving tip is to try to not backtrack through the store. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast!

Spending the whole day in grocery stores is quite strange. A little over a month ago I was still in Senegal, eating rice for every meal. Now I am surrounded by food all day, yet there is no rice to be found on the shelves! In fact, the stores are frequently out of items that customers request like toilet paper, cleaning supplies, rice, flour, and frozen foods.

Getting out there and earning money has been a big lift to my spirits during a time I would otherwise be stuck at home with no income. Most of the people I deliver to are at high risk for the virus. It feels good to get them their groceries and make a good chunk of money at the same time.

If you’re in a similar spot as me with lots of time and not a whole lot of income, I encourage you to try Instacart. They have a referral program that is very lucrative as well. If you use my referral code, I will happily split the referral earnings with you through check or venmo! That will easily add 25% to what you make in the first month! If you are interested send me an email at The referral code is ASTRUBECK23125. I am also here to answer any questions about the process that you have.


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