It’s an old saw, but blatantly true: we must eat to live—ergo, we must procure food. Even urban dwellers can grow some of it at home, but the majority of us buy our groceries. And yet, even when the pantry is pitifully bare, sometimes grocery shopping is the last thing you want to do—and sometimes you physically can’t do it. Luckily, we live in an age when there are numerous options for getting pretty much anything delivered straight to our doors, including food in near-infinite forms. In fact, there are so many grocery delivery services at this point that it can be hard to choose which one is right for you. So let’s examine some of the most popular options.
Amazon Prime membership
confers a whole host of perks, including grocery discounts with Prime Pantry. Unlike Prime Now and AmazonFresh
(read more about them below), Prime Pantry is for stocking your shelves
with non-perishable goods like cooking oil, pasta, cereal, and snacks, even pet food, as well as cleaning supplies and other items. If you want free shipping on Prime Pantry orders, you have to spend a minimum of $40, easy enough to do; otherwise, there’s a flat fee of $7.99 for shipping. A couple other cons: no two-day shipping, and no delivery to Alaska or Hawaii.
If you’re looking for more fresh food in addition to pantry staples, Prime Now may be a good option. It’s similar to AmazonFresh
, but is already included with a regular Prime membership. If you don’t have one of those, you can try a 30-day free trial
. Basically, you’ll be able to shop from a range of local stores, including Whole Foods
, and have them delivered within a 2-hour window (for free, on orders over $35). You can also get select non-grocery items shipped with this service, so if you need eggs and
a printer ink cartridge—and ASAP—you’re in luck! (But will probably have to place two separate orders.) Check Amazon’s site to see what’s available in your specific location.
Rounding out Amazon’s grocery options, there’s the aforementioned AmazonFresh
. It’s similar to Prime Now
, but is exclusively for groceries, and is an add-on service (whereas Prime Now is already included in your Prime membership
). If AmazonFresh is available in your location (you can enter your ZIP code to check), you can get fresh produce, milk, meat, and more—including Whole Foods
Market 365 products—delivered within an hour, or whenever is most convenient for you.
Instacart delivers from a variety of grocery stores (it depends, as always, on where you’re located), and in some areas also delivers from liquor stores, pet stores, and pharmacies. You can even order from Costco
and BJ’s Wholesale through Instacart, without needing to have a membership at those brick-and-mortar stores (though the same items will cost more than they would in-store for members)—so it’s potentially comparable to Amazon’s Prime grocery options, without the annual fee. You can upgrade to Instacart Express ($149 per year) in order to get free two-hour delivery on orders over $35 and to be able to shop from multiple stores in the same order. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay delivery and service fees on all orders, and may see higher prices during busier periods. While they don’t honor in-store coupons, there are often in-app discounts on various items. New users get their first order delivered free.
Google Express is sort of like a hybrid of Instacart and Prime Pantry; there’s no membership fee required, and you can order from various stores, including Costco (with the same price caveat, though some items do go on sale at times), but you can’t get any perishables. If you meet the minimum order amount ($25 or $35 depending on the store you choose), you get free shipping. You may be able to get same-day shipping, but not always, and they use companies like FedEx, UPS, and OnTrac for their deliveries.
Peapod isn’t available in as many regions, but if you are in their delivery zones (several mid-Atlantic and northeastern states, plus Chicago
and nearby areas), you can rack up major savings. They double manufacturers’ coupons up to $0.99, and offer a full 60 days of free delivery (with promo code 60DAYSFREE); after that, you can buy a Pod Pass to get free delivery if you wish. Rather than sending shoppers into various stores in your stead, orders are fulfilled at Peapod warehouses, and you can schedule delivery up to two weeks in advance, if you like to plan ahead. You can’t
get two-hour delivery as with most other services, but you can get it as soon as next-day. Peapod also offers its own meal kits, and in certain markets where Peapod is affiliated with Giant and Stop & Shop stores, you can even earn gas rewards points with your purchases.
Shipt is pretty similar to Instacart, with a less widespread range and a lower annual membership fee—but you do have to purchase one to use the app, $99 for a year or $14 per month. They deliver from Target as well as Kroger and Meijer grocery stores, and you’re able to give detailed notes to their shoppers so you can be sure you’ll get exactly what you want. You can even request items that aren’t listed in the app but that you know the store carries. There’s never any surge pricing, and no delivery charge on orders over $35.
Jet is owned by Walmart
and is similar to Google Express, in that there’s no membership fee, there’s free shipping on orders over $35, and you can only order non-perishable goods. They offer their own line of “Uniquely J” branded items (like sauces, condiments, coffee, and snacks), and have a real-time savings engine
that indicates items you can add to your order to lower the total price. They also just announced same-day delivery in New York
coming soon, but you can order from anywhere in the continental U.S.
Walmart initially partnered with Uber to deliver groceries
from the store, but that experiment ended in 2018. Currently, they’re working with restaurant delivery company DoorDash
to deliver groceries in limited test markets (Atlanta)—but you can also order online and pick up your completed order at your convenience anywhere. While it may not be quite as easy as home delivery, it’s still quicker than shopping yourself, and means there’s no extra fee. Either way, prices are always the same as in-store, and same-day pickup is available.
FreshDirect only delivers to parts of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, D.C., and a few other areas (some, like the Hamptons, only seasonally), but they’re a great option if you live in one of those places. In addition to all the usual grocery store items like fresh vegetables, meat, dairy, dry goods, and home care supplies, they offer their own line of meal kits and prepared foods, as well as farmshare boxes. These are just like you would get if you joined a CSA, but with no long-term commitment, with fresh produce from local farms, including eggs and cheese in some areas. As with most other services, you can upgrade to a paid membership in order to get free delivery, as well as special offers and discounts. If you’re in Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Queens, check out their little sister service FoodKick too.
Since Uber Eats no longer delivers from Walmart
, you can’t get your groceries from them, but they do
, of course, deliver from all sorts of restaurants. So on those days when you don’t want to cook at all (and since your magically delivered groceries still won’t cook themselves—yet
), it’s a great backup choice!
A happy medium between grocery delivery and takeout is the meal kit option—get fresh ingredients delivered to your door in just the quantities you need, with instructions on what to make with them, so dinner is easy and comparatively low effort, but still healthy and homemade. Check out Guide.com’s favorite meal kits, CNET’s meal kit recommendations, and our guide to healthy meal kit delivery services too. As with grocery delivery, there are a wealth of meal kit options out there, but these guides will help you figure out which one is best for you.
Related Video: 15 Foods You Can Scrimp on at the Grocery Store
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