Until recently, grocery delivery was a convenient novelty for anyone who preferred to outsource the weekly chore.
As the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold, having groceries delivered has become a vital service for many people around the United States.
But when you have to dig around for pricing, restrictions, delivery times and other information to find the best grocery delivery service in your area, you might lose your mind. You can get sucked into the novelty of ordering leeks through an app without thinking about its effect on your grocery budget.
To cut through the marketing speak, I’ve broken down the details on some of the best grocery delivery services available around the country.
Because of increased demand during the pandemic, some services are experiencing delivery delays or have paused new deliveries altogether. Before signing up, read each service’s COVID-19 updates to understand any changes in protocol.
9 of the Best Grocery Delivery Services, Compared
Here’s everything you need to know about some of the best grocery delivery services with delivery and shipping available nationwide.
Note: Want to deliver food? Due to increased demand, grocery delivery services are hiring for thousands of jobs around the country.
What: Instacart grocery delivery is available from a variety of grocery stores in your ZIP code, including drug stores, pet supply stores and, in some areas, liquor stores.
Where: Instacart delivers in all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C. Check out the full list of locations.
Pricing: Instacart’s rundown of available stores in your area includes notes on each retailer’s pricing policy. While most locations offer “everyday store prices,” others make it clear that the convenience of Instacart means you’ll pay higher prices for groceries than you would in stores.
Membership: Membership isn’t required to use the service, but if you’d rather skip the delivery fee every time you place an order, you can sign up for Instacart Express. In exchange for a fee of $99 per year or $9.99 per month, you’ll get free delivery for every order over $35. Express service also exempts you from peak pricing when Instacart is busy.
Delivery cost: Delivery costs between $5.99 and $7.99 per order for nonmembers. Orders under $35 cost more. If you want your order in an hour, that adds up too. Tipping your shoppers is permitted.
Coupon policy: Instacart doesn’t honor sale prices in stores or manufacturer’s coupons. Instead, it offers special promotions you’ll see when you log in to your account. Once you order the required amount or type of items, the discount automatically applies to your order.
What: Shipt delivers products from a variety of grocery stores. Liquor delivery is also available in some locations.
Where: Shipt is available throughout the U.S..
Pricing: Shipt prices are slightly higher than if you had taken the trip yourself. “Our members can expect to pay about $5 more using Shipt than they would on a $35 order purchased in the store themselves,” the company’s website explains.
Membership: Shipt charges you $99 annually or $14 per month for unlimited free delivery.
Delivery cost: Members must make a minimum order of $35 to get free delivery. If your order is less than that, you have to pay a $7 delivery fee. You could also be charged $7 for alcohol purchases. Tips are permitted.
Coupon policy: Shipt offers in-app specials on items, but it doesn’t allow you to use manufacturer’s or store coupons.
3. Walmart Grocery
What: Walmart has two grocery ordering options. In some locations, you can have your order delivered to your doorstep. In many more locations, you can place your order for a pickup window, then get your groceries delivered to your car at the store. Some stores even allow you to pay for your groceries with an electronic benefit transfer card.
Pricing: Delivery and pickup prices are the same as if you had shopped in the grocery store yourself, but there is a $30 minimum order for the services.
Membership: None required.
Delivery cost: Although it’s unclear whether there is a regular delivery cost, Walmart does have a program called Delivery Unlimited, which costs $98 per year or $12.95 per month. You can sign up for 15 days of free delivery.
Coupon policy: Walmart does not accept coupons for pickup or delivery orders. If you use the Savings Catcher app, it’ll verify that you received the lowest possible price and give you reward dollars.
What: Items skip the store and go from the Peapod warehouse directly to your home. It’s affiliated with Ahold-Delhaize grocery stores, including Food Lion, Giant and Stop & Shop. Unattended delivery is available in some areas, so you don’t have to be home when your groceries arrive — Peapod leaves it in an insulated container.
Pricing: A Peapod spokesperson confirmed to us that delivery prices are comparable to in-store prices, but “there are some differences since Peapod’s warehouses operate separately.”
Membership: None required. Peapod offers PodPass, which provides unlimited deliveries for orders of $100 or more at a set price. The rate for 12 months of unlimited delivery is $119 plus tax. There are also three- and six-month subscription options that cost $49 and $69 before tax, respectively. If you pay for PodPass but place an order between $60 and $99.99, you’ll pay for any delivery fees beyond $7.95.
Delivery cost: The minimum order is $60 worth of groceries to get delivery, which costs $67.95 to $9.95 — the larger your order, the cheaper the delivery fee. You could pay as little as $2.95 for delivery with certain discounts. Peapod offers delivery discounts if you choose off-peak times. You can schedule delivery for as soon as the next day or up to two weeks in advance. Tipping is permitted. Peapod also offers a pickup option in some areas; there is a $30 minimum order and a $2.95 charge for pickup.
Coupon policy: Peapod accepts manufacturer’s coupons and doubles them up to 99 cents.
What: Hungryroot is a grocery subscription service that curates and delivers a box of healthy food to your door each week. It covers most of your groceries for the week, minus basics like milk and bread.
Where: Delivery is available in most ZIP codes around the U.S., excluding Alaska and Hawaii.
Pricing: You’ll build a plan based on how much food you want to receive, and prices are personalized to your plan. Minimum order amount is $59.
Membership: Subscription isn’t required. Membership plans start at $60 per week.
Delivery cost: Subscription includes free delivery. Non-members can get free delivery for orders of $70 or more.
Coupon policy: The company delivers Hungryroot brand foods, so you’ll have to find brand-specific coupons. Keep an eye out for its promos for free Ancient Grain Pancake Mix, Superfood Almond Butter and cookie dough.
6. Thrive Market
What: Thrive is a subscription grocery service that delivers organic and non-GMO foods. It can cater to special diets and food allergies, including vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free, Kosher, keto and more. It offers prepared foods, nuts, pantry staples, and frozen meat and seafood. It doesn’t offer fresh fruits and vegetables.
Where: Thrive ships to the 48 contiguous U.S. states via ground shipping.
Pricing: Thrive promises it’ll offer products at low member-only prices through its Savings Guarantee, which offers store credit if you don’t save at least the price of your membership each year.
Membership: Membership is required and costs $59.95 per year. Students, teachers, military members or veterans, first responders and low-income families can apply for free membership through Thrive Gives.
Delivery cost: Shipping is free for your first order of $25 or more, plus all other orders over $49.
Coupon policy: Thrive users report periodically receiving coupons for discounts on their full order. You can also receive store credit for referring friends, leaving product reviews and purchasing promotional items.
What: Boxed lets you save money on groceries by buying everyday brands in bulk for delivery without an annual membership.
Where: Boxed is available for home or business deliveries in the contiguous U.S.
Pricing: Pricing is similar to what you’d pay at a warehouse store like Costco or Sam’s Club.
Membership: Anyone can order from Boxed for free. With a Boxed Up membership for $49 per year, you’ll earn 2% cash back, free shipping on orders $19.98 and more, and exclusive discounts.
Delivery cost: Shipping is free on orders of $79 or more for non-members. Boxed Up members get free shipping on orders of $19.98 or more.
Coupon policy: Boxed does not accept manufacturer coupons.
8. Google Shopping
What: Formerly Google Express, Google’s grocery delivery service is now part of Google Shopping. Shop and compare bulk and retail-sized non-perishables, including prepared foods, beverages and pantry staples, from dozens of retailers. Checkout through Google or at the store’s site. Each retailer handles its own delivery.
Where: Delivery options depend on which store you shop with.
Pricing: Pricing is in keeping with online shopping prices for each retailer.
Membership: No membership is required to shop through Google, though you may have to be a member to buy from clubs like Costco.
Delivery cost: Delivery fees vary by retailer. Most retailers offer free shipping with a minimum order requirement.
Coupon policy: Policies vary by retailer.
9. Prime Pantry
What: Prime Pantry lets you order bulk nonperishables online for delivery. It doesn’t include fresh groceries, like produce. It’s one of the best grocery delivery services to stock up on pantry staples and shelf-stable foods in case of an emergency.
Where: Prime Pantry is available via ground shipping in most cities in the contiguous U.S.
Pricing: Like most of Amazon, prices on Pantry items are typically cheaper than competitors’ — but not always. Compare prices or use a browser extension to make sure you’re finding the best price on Amazon.
Membership: In select areas, membership is not required — but it will save you on shipping. Pantry is free with Amazon Prime members.
Delivery cost: Shipping is $5.99 for non-members; free to members with a minimum $35 order.
Coupon policy: Available coupons appear next to items as you shop Prime Pantry.
Regional Grocery Delivery Services
Some of the best grocery delivery services are only available in select cities or regions, including:
- FreshDirect: Get delivery of grocery staples, including fresh produce and meat, and wines and spirits, in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and seasonally in the Hamptons and the Jersey Shore.
- Safeway: This favorite West Coast grocery store lets you order online for store pick up or delivery.
- Prime Now: Amazon Prime members in select cities can get free two-hour shipping of thousands of items, including from local grocery stores, restaurants and Whole Foods.
- Amazon Fresh: Available to Amazon Prime and Amazon Prime Student members in select cities, Amazon’s grocery delivery service delivers food, including fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Your local store: Grocery stores are adding delivery, online ordering and personal shopping services all over the country as demand grows. Ask your local favorite what’s available!
What Is the Best Grocery Delivery Service for You?
Each service offers unique benefits depending on your grocery needs. To select a grocery delivery service for your household, consider:
- Is it available in your area?
- Do you want fresh produce and meat delivered, or only nonperishables?
- Do you prefer to buy from local stores or national chains?
- Do you follow a special diet?
- Does a service cover all your grocery needs, or only select items?
- Do you prefer meal kits, curated orders or hand-picked groceries?
If one service doesn’t cover all your needs, you can always use more than one. Just keep an eye on costs — multiple memberships could add up quickly and negate any savings you find.
Lisa Rowan is a former senior writer and producer at The Penny Hoarder.
Abubakar his MA Economics from Concordia University in Montreal and BA Economics from the University of British Columbia, with special emphasis on environmental and industrial economics. He has written on a variety of different topics including Bitcoin and finance.