Remember the days when buying food for the week meant lazily wandering the aisles of a grocery store, planning meals in your head as if you had all the time in the world? When you could peruse the produce section for seasonal favorites … check a cantaloupe for ripeness … squeeze the avocados? When it wasn’t that big a deal if you forgot something you needed, because you could always just come back?
You were so young then. So… innocent.
Then you had babies — and everything changed.
Now a trip to the grocery store means shopping with one or more kiddos hanging off you or the shopping cart – or having to take time out of your precious workday. You grab items off the shelves in a mad dash to get to the checkout counter before the kids’ patience runs out. Or before they see that giant, alluring display of Star Wars Pez dispensers.
As little hands reach for things they desperately want, our inner voices clamor to “getttt outttt!!” I call it drive-by shopping — you don’t really have time to stop and ponder an item — must. keep. moving!!
Grocery shopping with young kids, for most, is an annoying chore, even an embarrassingly public display of your parenting flaws… or for some of us, our own personal hell.
Whatever your stance might be on food shopping, you may decide at some point to investigate some of the grocery delivery options in your area. Besides not having to drag your little ones out shopping, the perks of having your groceries delivered include easily planning out grocery lists in advance, getting hours of precious time back, and avoiding the inevitable regret of impulse buys at the store. (Why do they have to put the dark chocolate peanut butter cups right next to the checkout counter?! Damn you, Trader Joe’s!!)
Here are some of the leading grocery delivery services in your area (unless you live way off the beaten path, in which case you might want to see if your local grocery store delivers). You should also know this industry is changing and growing all the time! So keep checking back for updates!
Loved ones: consider a subscription for one of these as a gift for new parents. Some will even deliver prepared foods… almost as good as your homemade casserole!
Instacart is the company to beat when it comes to grocery delivery. Their app and website are easy to use, including a handy “buy it again” section and the ability to create saved grocery lists. It’s simple to find coupons, and Instacart offers food from a variety of grocery stores in your area (including but not limited to Whole Foods, Stop & Shop, Wegman’s, Market Basket, H-E-B, Aldi, Star Market, Kroger, Harvest Co-op, Target, Costco, and Total Wine & More—getting your pinot noir delivered to your door? I’ll toast to that!).
Cost: Instacart Express costs $99 a year, which includes free 1 and 2- hour grocery delivery (when available) with a minimum purchase of $35. Service fees may still apply, and this cost also doesn’t include the optional tips for the shopper/driver. The Monthly Express membership is $9.99.
If you don’t sign up for the annual program, the delivery fee will depend on the size of your order and the delivery time that you choose. The fee for each delivery will be displayed when choosing your delivery window during checkout. Note that all orders must be $10 or more.
Locations: Instacart is available in most major cities in the U.S. Enter your zip code here to check if they deliver to you.
I (Meg) have been using Instacart for a couple of years, now, and here’s the lowdown:
- Instacart will shop from just about any store of your choosing, including drug stores. They’ll even shop at the hippy-dippy market in Berkeley that carries my dog’s weird senior dog food.
- You can make special requests for items that aren’t listed on the app, and your shopper will try to find them (with an emphasis on try). The success rate for that, IMO, is quite low.
- They offer recipes (e.g., “Roasted Sweet Potato and Spinach Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing”) from which you can easily add ingredients, which makes meal planning much easier.
- Their customer service is consistently very good, both on the phone and over email. They usually take full responsibility for problems with deliveries (and there will inevitably be some problems) and will quickly issue refunds or redeliveries for missing or incorrect items.
- They’ve made this very confusing … essentially, there’s an optional “service fee” of 10%, which adds a lot to the bill, is automatically added to your total unless you go out of your way to opt out of it, and cannot be adjusted to any value other than 10% or zero. This money goes to the company, who claims it trickles down to the workers. They’ve made it more difficult to tip the shopper directly, so… many complaints about that.
- Instacart marks up some of the product’s prices (for example: milk), but promises in-store prices for others (e.g., Whole Foods), so you may be paying more for the same food. It’s hard to tell sometimes unless you’re really paying attention (or you know what stuff costs). One study found that Instacart marks up groceries 23%, on average. Yipes!
- There is a “chat” feature on the Instacart app, which most shoppers take full advantage of. So although you’re not at the store, you may be engaging in quite a lot of texting with your shopper about inevitable substitutions. This can be somewhat annoying, but it also ensures you’re more likely to get the products you want in the end. (You can also specify ahead of time whether you prefer a refund or a substitution for specific items, in case you don’t have time to chat with your shopper.)
- They screw up a lot. In my experience, they screw up at least one thing in every order. I’m the type who doesn’t have time to remedy the problem, so… I just live with it. One time, I got 20 lbs of the wrong dog food, so I donated it to the local shelter. Then I had to go out and buy dog food (again, first world problems, but….).
All in all, Instacart is nice because you can get food or goods quickly from just about anywhere (but not Trader Joe’s, sadly — from what I understand, they kinda hate each other), but it’s fairly pricey and they tend to make mistakes and blow up your phone with text messages while they are shopping. But if you need groceries (and drugstore items) now, especially if it’s an item not available through Amazon Prime Now or Amazon Pantry, Instacart is your best bet.
Instacart has offered our readers $20 off (for first time customers)! Use this link.
2. Amazon Fresh
Arguably Instacart’s main competitor—especially now that Amazon purchased Whole Foods —Amazon Fresh also offers same-day delivery of groceries from a variety of sources.
I (Meg) have used Amazon Fresh for about a year now, and it’s generally my go-to.
Locations: Amazon Fresh currently delivers to more than 2,000 cities and towns in the U.S., including Indianapolis, Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C. They’re always expanding their empire, however, so check here to see if they deliver to you.
Cost: In an effort to compete in the quickly growing and highly competitive grocery delivery market, Amazon Fresh recently eliminated its $14.99 monthly fee for Prime members (who already pay an annual $99 Prime membership). Now, Amazon Fresh is a benefit that’s included in your Prime membership.
To get started, you just need to request an invitation for Amazon Fresh (and Whole Foods Market delivery, if you’re interested in that as well) — once you receive and accept your invite, you’re good to go.
In most areas across the U.S., deliveries that are $35 or more are free; however, in New York City, the minimum order amount for free delivery is $50. Orders under $35 are charged a $4.99 delivery fee. These fees do not include tips (which are optional, but always recommended); note that the entirety of your tip goes to the courier.
In many areas throughout the country, you can also request one- or two-hour delivery options.
But wait! There’s more…
Amazon Prime Now for grocery items!! I know, I know, it’s a little confusing… Amazon Prime Now is also included in the cost of your Amazon Prime membership, and, like Fresh, there is no delivery fee on orders that are over $35 (there’s a $4.99 delivery fee on orders less than $35). Since it’s inception, Amazon Prime Now has grown… it’s now available in nearly 90 U.S. metro areas!
Amazon Prime Now delivers fresh foods straight from Whole Foods Market. With Prime Now you may also be able to get grocery items from Amazon fulfillment centers as well as other local grocery stores and restaurants (fill in your zip code on the Prime Now page or app to see if this is available to you).
But wait… there’s even more!
Amazon Prime Pantry is yet another service that delivers either single-serving dry pantry staples (like one single box of cereal), household supplies or any of these items in bulk. At this time Prime Pantry is no longer offering new memberships, but if you already have a membership, you can continue to use it for for $4.99 per month (and get free shipping on orders over $10). All Prime members get free shipping on orders over $35, otherwise, there’s a $5.99 shipping fee for orders under $35. In select areas, non-Prime members can also shop Prime Pantry with a $5.99 shipping fee on each order.
- Amazon Fresh offers a huge variety of grocery items, including some from local vendors, like meat, dairy and baked goods (we’re able to still get our local dairy products (Strauss!), which we love).
- Amazon is beginning to offer meal kits with pre-prepped ingredients for easy dinners, e.g., “Moroccan Spiced Chicken with Vegetables,” which sets it apart from Instacart and could be a very cool feature as they add more meal options.
- Amazon Fresh’s customer service is also helpful when there’s a problem with your order.
- Amazon doesn’t mark up items the way Instacart does for many stores—in fact, it reduces the prices of many of its items.
- My favorite thing: I can (usually) order groceries in the evening and have them delivered before 7am the next morning (yeah! you heard me). This is perfect for those “oh sh!t” moments when you realize you have no food and nothing to give the kids for breakfast. In fact, you can schedule an “unattended” delivery for any time of the day so you don’t have to be there to meet the delivery person. They chill perishables with ice packs and such, so your items stay cold for…. a while.
- The packaging: Amazon Fresh used to have these nice, insulated totes that you simple exchanged each time (thus, no waste). Nowadays, they use paper bags, insulated paper bags, and lots and lots of…. bags. Huge bags for tiny little items. So much packaging, I just don’t understand. You’ll have to recycle/dispose of all this. Oh well, at least it’s not styrofoam.
Bottom Line: Once again, Amazon has nailed the logistics of grocery delivery. With your regular Prime membership, you have access to Amazon Fresh, Prime Now, which gets you tons of grocery items delivered within 1-2 hours, and Prime Pantry, which includes delivery of dry pantry goods and household supplies (in small or large quantities). Screw ups are rare; in my experience, I don’t have to text back and forth with a shopper for an hour. I don’t love all the bags and packaging, but that seems to come with the territory. Keep tabs on Amazon — their services and delivery areas are always growing.
Google Shopping, formerly Google Express, offers a huge variety of non-perishable groceries to about 90% of the United States (including recent expansions in western, southern, and midwestern regions). This is ideal for people who want dry goods delivered, but prefer to hit a local market for fresh meat and produce. If your shopping list happens to be all non-perishable stuff, their service is appealing for a couple of reasons.
- There is no membership fee or cost for same-day delivery of groceries. Nicely played, Google!
- Google Express now delivers Whole Foods products, including the popular 365 brand, along with tons of other brands.
- Google Express ships their orders with established companies like FedEx and UPS, so there’s no tipping involved at all. Their customer service is also very responsive and helpful in correcting issues with your order.
- If you need any kind of perishable food, Google Shopping isn’t going to be your go-to delivery service… at least not yet. But we all know Google is also aiming to take over the world, so this will surely happen at some point.
- Groceries come in recyclable paper bags you’ll need to dispose of yourself.
- You have to meet a new minimum purchase cost for each different store— so, for example, say you’re ordering dog food from Petsmart and some items from Whole Foods on the same day. Those are considered two deliveries with separate minimum purchases…
- Most non-grocery items are next day or two-day delivery instead of same-day, like the two mentioned above (#firstworldproblems).
Cost: None, as long as you meet the minimum order fee of $25 or $35, depending on which store you’re ordering from. This is pretty great, compared to other delivery services!
Locations: Generally available in the mid-Atlantic, Northeast, and Great Lakes states, Peapod offers delivery from Stop & Shop and Giant grocery stores. Coverage includes the following states: Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Maryland, District of Columbia, Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
- Peapod has some meal kits available with already prepared ingredients.
- The user-friendly app allows you to save shopping lists and easily reorder items you’ve purchased before.
- Peapod offers more than 12,000 different products, including deli items, prepared foods, seasonal items and more.
- Peapod offers up many discounts, sale items, and ways to save money each week.
- Peapod uses tons of plastic bags, although it does offer to recycle them if customers return them to their drivers.
Cost: The delivery fee depends on the order: it costs $9.95 for orders $35 to $75; $7.95 for orders $75 to $100 and $6.95 for orders over $100. Tipping is optional, “but always appreciated.” Alternatively, orders can be picked up at some Peapod stores for $3 without having to lug the kids out of the car. A small price to pay!
If you think you’ll end up using it a lot, Peapod also offers the “Pod Pass” program, which costs $119 a year and includes the cost of delivery for any orders over $100.
If you live in or around New York, you probably already know about Fresh Direct.
Locations: New York, New Jersey, D.C., Pennsylvania, or certain parts of Delaware and Connecticut.
FreshDirect offers next day delivery of groceries, rather than same day delivery (pssshht!). To compete with Instacart, it recently started a new service called FoodKick, which does deliver some items within an hour.
FreshDirect offers recipes and quite a lot of yummy looking meal kits compared to its competitors, which seem worth checking out if you’re in one of its delivery zones. Its app also allows you to save lists and reorder your favorite items.
Cost: The delivery fee is between $5.99 and $9.99 for an order of $30 or more. In some vacation areas (e.g., the Hamptons), the cost will run you $15.99 in the summer months.
If you purchase “DeliveryPass” for $129 a year ($10.75 a month), deliveries are included, and you can schedule recurring weekly delivery time slots in advance. You can do an (almost) free two-month trial for the cost of one penny (don’t ask me why). You can also purchase a Delivery Pass for Foodkick $9.99 a month.
Shipt offers delivery of products from major grocery chains across the nation, including Target, CVS, Publix, Kroger, Fry’s, and H-E-B. Its motto is “more time, less stress,” and it prides itself on choosing fresh produce for its customers. The Shipt app lets you order and communicate with your shopper.
Locations: Shipt now delivers nationwide. You can check here to see if it delivers to your neck of the woods, and if your area is eligible for same-day delivery.
- The user-friendly app makes it easy to find sales and reorder items you’ve purchased before.
- Item prices in the app can be higher than in-store prices.
- The total cost is an estimate that may change at check-out time.
- Packaging depends on the specific store’s policies and the shopper, so you may end up with cloth, paper, or plastic bags.
Cost: Delivery is free for members on orders over $35. Orders under $35 will be charged a $7 delivery fee. Like with Instacart, the cost of the groceries is slightly marked up, and tipping your shopper is encouraged via the app.
A membership with Shipt costs $99 a year, or $14 a month, which includes delivery on orders over $35.
Reader insight: Take advantage of this service for travel — rather than packing baby foods or snacks, get your order all set up and when you’re close to arriving at your hotel, have it be delivered soon after you check in.
Boxed specializes in the delivery of bulk groceries, household items and more. Products are packed in Boxed warehouses, and are delivered in big… boxes (make sense, right?). You can select your delivery time; deliveries usually arrive within 1-3 days.
If you want perishable items (produce, frozen foods, dairy, deli items, etc.) delivered in bulk, you will have to do so through Boxed Express (notated on the site with a lightning bolt next to them). These products will come from local stores (such as Costco), and will arrive separately from your regular Boxed order (via a personal Boxed shopper who will bring them to your door).
Express orders are packaged in reusable bags — a nice environmentally-friendly perk. You may either keep the bag and reuse it, or, with Boxed Express’s “Return-A-Bag” program, you can return the bag to your Boxed Shopper on your next Express delivery, and receive a $1 credit to your account each time a bag is returned.
Locations: Boxed ships everywhere in the U.S. Yay!
Cost: No membership fee for Boxed. In order to get free shipping, you must purchase a minimum of $49 worth of items. For orders less than $49, you’ll be charged $6.99 for shipping. If you’re ordering through Boxed Express, tips are recommended but not required. You can tip through our app or website during the checkout process, or in cash at delivery.
You can also join the Boxed Up program for $49 per year, which gives customers access to free shipping on all orders, 2% Cash Rewards and exclusive perks.
Thrive Market is a unique membership-based delivery concept, focused on making organic, healthy, clean food, household supplies, beauty products, etc., accessible to the masses. Via their app, Thrive Market offers over 6,000 different types of organic, non-GMO products, as well as the ability to search for products by different types of dietary needs and/or and food restrictions.
Locations: Currently Thrive Market ships everywhere in the U.S., except Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. They hope to be able to offer services to these areas soon, however.
Cost: Membership costs $59.95 per year ($5 a month). You get the first 30 days free to see if you like it and can cancel any time during your trial or thereafter.
With your membership, you get access to 25-50% off retail prices on 6,000+ organic, non-GMO, sustainable groceries, wines, beauty and household products.
Thrive Market claims to save its members approximately $30 on every order. They back this up by telling members that if they don’t make back their membership fee during their first year, they will credit them the difference when it comes time for membership renewal. We can get behind this offer!
Imperfect Foods is a subscription-based grocery delivery service with a mission: to reduce food waste. Traditional grocery stores throw out produce and groceries that are not “perfect” — i.e. “ugly” (misshapen, scarred, etc.). Imperfect Foods is trying to combat all that unnecessary waste.
According to their website, Imperfect Foods “offers imperfect (yet delicious) produce, affordable pantry items, quality dairy, and meat and delivers them to our customers’ door for up to 30% less than the grocery store.”
How it Works: You choose between a conventional box (starts at ~ $16) or an organic box (starts at ~ $24), and then add the products you want delivered on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. You can select either a small, medium, large or extra large box depending on how many groceries you need.
Imperfect Foods will start each order off by adding in some fresh fruits and vegetables. Take out what you don’t want, and add in more of what you love. Then peruse the “grocery aisle” and add in whatever other grocery or pantry items you want. Each week you can customize your order to suit your family’s needs.
Delivery: You can either choose to have your groceries delivered weekly or bi-weekly. Your delivery date is picked by Imperfect Foods and is based on your zip code (the reason Imperfect Foods selects the delivery date is so they can deliver more efficiently and reduce emissions while doing so).
You can change your delivery frequency at any time, and you can also skip weeks if you know you’re going to be out of town, or if your family just doesn’t need any items that week.
Depending on where you live, your groceries will either be delivered by an Imperfect Foods driver, or a third-party delivery company. If you’re not home when your groceries arrive, don’t worry — perishable items will be packaged with gel packs and insulation so they’ll stay fresh until you’re able to refrigerate them. Groceries are delivered in compostable and recyclable cardboard boxes.
Locations: Currently, Imperfect Foods delivers to most of the West South Central region, Midwest, Northeast and the West Coast. Check here to see if Imperfect Foods delivers to your area. They are expanding rapidly so if you’re not in their delivery zone, be sure to check back to see if and when you might be.
Cost: While there’s no fee to customize your order, there is a $4.99 – $5.99 delivery fee. Some areas also require a $30 order minimum. FYI — Your card on file won’t be charged until 12 noon the day after your delivery.
Local Grocery Stores That Deliver
Several major grocery stores have their own pick-up and delivery services, including Safeway, Walmart, Kroger, Harris Teeter, Albertsons, Shoprite, Hannaford, Hy-Vee and Aldi. This might be an option if you live in the sticks.
As our parents age (or perhaps if they are ill or have mobility issues), they may find grocery delivery worthwhile as well.
Locations: Safeway provides grocery delivery in Arizona, California, Maryland, Oregon, Virginia, Washington, and Washington D.C.
*They’ve recently partnered with Instacart to offer 2-hour grocery delivery services as well.
Cost: Delivery costs $9.95 but may be reduced for purchases of $150 or more. You need to purchase a minimum of $30 in groceries.
Locations: Walmart Grocery has been expanding its no-fee, same day pickup service with a minimum order of $30 in many new locations across the U.S. You can order your groceries online (for the same in-store cost) and then pick them up at the store without having to get out of the car. In addition, Walmart Grocery also offers delivery services as well.
Delivery Cost: Walmart Grocery now offers two delivery options (through a partnership with several delivery partners). You may schedule a delivery for a fee of $7.95 to $9.95 (and purchase at least $30 worth of groceries), OR, you may opt-in to their new service, Delivery Unlimited, which allows customers to avoid the per-order fee and instead pay a flat charge of $12.95 monthly or $98 annually. Delivery services are available in most states throughout the US, and are expanding quickly, so check here to see if they’ll deliver to you.
Kroger has a popular grocery pick-up service called Pickup (formerly called ClickList). You can order your groceries through their website, then pick them up at the store. The best part? You can pick up your groceries without having to get out of the car. Fees vary by region, but your first three Pickup service fees are waived.
In addition, Kroger also offers same-day grocery delivery service through 3rd party delivery services. Kroger is also available for order on Instacart as well. Yippee!
Cost: There is a $5.95 delivery fee and a $6.00 service charge will be applied to your order at the time it’s placed.
Locations: The southern grocery chain Harris Teeter offers pick-up and delivery options through their Express Lane program in Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Maryland.
*Harris Teeter has recently teamed up with Shipt and Instacart as well to offer 2-hour grocery delivery.
Cost: Pick-up costs $4.95, and delivery costs $12 to $15 per order, plus the service fee of $4.95. Harris Teeter states that it does not accept tips.
Locations: Albertsons is a grocery store chain located throughout the American Southwest. Check to see if they deliver to your address here. They offer same day delivery if you submit your order by 8:30am, and they’ve also partnered with Instacart to offer 2-hour grocery delivery. (But really, who hasn’t at this point? Get with the program, Trader Joe’s!)
Cost: $9.95 but may be reduced on purchases of $150 or more. All orders must be $10 or more. Drivers do not accept tips.
*Note: it took forever to get through to their customer service on a Thursday morning… So if customer service matters to you (which it will for grocery delivery!) you might want to use Instacart to get groceries delivered from your local Albertsons instead.
Locations: Hy-Vee’s grocery stores are located across the Midwest in Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Check here to see if your local Hy-Vee delivers to you.
They have a website and an app where you can create lists and “favorite” items to easily buy them again.
*Hy-Vee has recently announced its partnerships with both Instacart and Shipt, so getting groceries delivered from its stores just got a whole lot easier.
Cost: ALL of its stores offer free grocery pick-up for purchases of $30 and more, and some offer delivery for free with the purchase of a $99 annual membership and minimum $30 purchase. For non-members a $9.95 fee will be added to the order.
Locations: Shoprite stores are located in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.
They offer store pickup and delivery (from specific stores) through Shoprite From Home. They also ship non-perishable and bulk items nationwide through Shoprite Delivers and, having recently jumped on the grocery delivery partnership wagon, they also offer 2-hour delivery through …you guessed it, Instacart!
Cost: You have to select your store on the Shoprite From Home page and create an account to find out the fees you’ll be charged for pickup or home delivery.
Locations: Hannaford To Go offers grocery pickup at their stores in Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and New York.
You need to order four hours in advance for same-day pickup.
Cost: $5. Their shoppers do not accept tips.
Hannaford To Go also offers same-day grocery delivery (they’ve partnered with Shipt) only available in select zip codes in Albany and the Capital District Region of New York.
Cost: There’s a $30 minimum order amount for delivery services, and flat fee of $10 on any order of $30 or more. The delivery fee on your first order is waived.
Like so many of the other grocery stores we’ve listed, Aldi has also partnered with Instacart to provide same-day grocery delivery to customers (click here to see if you’re in their delivery area). The only Aldi products that aren’t available for delivery are gift cards and Aldi’s signature “Aldo Finds” bulk items (“Aldi Finds” are deals that Aldi offers on seasonal items). Alcohol is available only in some states.
Locations: Powered through Instacart, Aldi grocery delivery has been rolled out nationwide. You’ll have to enter your zip code here to see if your location is included in the delivery area.
Cost: The delivery fee will depend on the size of your order and the delivery time that you choose (for instance, if you want your groceries delivered in an hour, the fee may be higher).
The minimum order is $10 on regular deliveries, but if you are an Instacart Express member, there will be no delivery fee on orders $35 and more.
Tipping is optional, but always appreciated. Tips are paid directly to the Instacart driver and/or shopper. ALDI associates do not receive the tips.
Note: Aldi also offers Aldi Curbside at select locations. Customers order groceries through the same platform as the delivery service — head here to place your order. A Curbside employee will deliver the groceries directly to your car. There is a small fee for Curbside service. However, Curbside employees do NOT accept tips.
Welcome to the future, dear busy parents — grocery delivery options galore!
At the very least, grocery delivery is a great backup for when you’re sick, there’s a blizzard, the car’s in the shop, or you just really can’t stand the thought of facing the cookie aisle with your three year old today. (The struggle is real.)
As it turns out, we can have our cake and eat it too … and that cake can be delivered right to our door (mmmm, cake …).
Good luck out there!
~ Alicia S. and Meg Collins