The COVID-19 pandemic may have introduced a lot of people to grocery delivery services, but many consumers will continue having their groceries delivered to their doorsteps even when the pandemic is a distant memory.
After all, there are a lot of advantages of grocery delivery. "These grocery delivery services save me hours every week. ... The reduction in time spent driving, waiting and wandering aisles, coupled with the lack of impulse buying, has been a huge saver of my time and money," says Jessica Randhawa, an El Dorado Hills, California-based chef and owner of TheForkedSpoon.com, which features family-friendly recipes.
So if you're wondering what apps and services would be the best fit for you, here are eight top grocery delivery services:
-- Amazon Fresh
-- Amazon Now
This popular grocery app (it's available throughout much of the United States and Canada) delivers from numerous grocery stores as well as liquor stores and pharmacies and even some bulk warehouses like Costco and BJ's Wholesale Club.
If you become a member ($99 annually or $9.99 a month), you'll pay no delivery fees on orders $35 and over. There's also no additional charge if you order groceries from several stores, so you can potentially knock out several errands with one order.
You don't have to become a member; deliveries $35 and over carry a delivery charge of $3.99, and if your order is less than $35, fees will vary.
It's definitely a convenience, but Instacart does mark up its prices, so you would save money on groceries by doing the shopping yourself. Still, if you value your time more than your money, this service may be worth it.
Peapod is regional and mostly available in New York, New Jersey and New England. It previously served the Midwest and the District of Columbia, but alas, for now, no more.
If you spend $30 or more, Peapod charges a $9.95 delivery fee. If you spend $75 or more, the delivery fee drops to $7.95. If you spend $100 or more, the fee is $6.95 for delivery.
If you want to bypass the delivery fees, you can spend $100 a year, and you'll get free delivery for orders over $100. If you have an order that's less than $100, you'll get a $6.95 delivery credit.
It's also worth noting that Peapod doubles manufacturer coupons up to 99 cents.
If you have an Amazon Prime membership, you can order Amazon Fresh for free (as long as your order totals $35 or more). It's available throughout many parts of the country, but not everywhere. According to its website, it also isn't delivering to dorms -- just a heads up for college students.
Amazon Prime Now
This is a same-day delivery service for Amazon Prime members (a membership is $12.99 a month or $119 a year, plus taxes). You can get groceries delivered the same day (and maybe within an hour or two, depending where you live; there may be a fee for that short window of time delivery). You can also order other non-food products on Amazon, like electronics, clothes, toys and toothpaste.
Amazon Prime Now is in about 100 cities, which means it's "now" for a lot of people in a lot places but not for everybody, everywhere. It also should be noted that "now" is more of a state of mind than always a reality. If you order something at noon, maybe you'll get it within an hour or two or before the day is up. If you order groceries at midnight, don't expect a package to be at your doorstep before dawn.
Walmart Grocery Pickup and Delivery
If you sign up for Walmart+, you pay $12.95 a month or $98 a year, and you'll get your groceries delivered for free. (There is a 15-day free trial, so you can try it and order groceries numerous times, and then cancel or sign up.) Generally, you have to order $35 or more for free delivery, but for a limited time, the website says, there is no minimum order requirement.
If you don't sign up for Walmart+ and just want to do grocery pickup and delivery, there is a $7.95 or $9.95 delivery charge, depending whether you opt for next-day or same-day delivery.
Also worth noting: The prices aren't marked up. What you pay for groceries through online delivery is what you'll pay in the stores.
Dumpling isn't as well known as some of the other grocery shopping apps, but it is available in all 50 states. It's an unusual premise, too. You basically use the app to connect with a personal shopper, who will fulfill your order at a local store in your area. So if you have a grocery store in the area that doesn't typically work with grocery delivery service apps, well, now you do. You work with this personal shopper, who sets his or her own hours and fees.
So you may pay a bit for the groceries to be delivered -- $30 is common. But you might feel that it's worth the cost to have that customized service and to pay somebody $25 or $30 to basically do an errand you're not looking forward to doing.
You can find Shipt throughout many parts of the country. If you download the app or visit its website, you can type in your ZIP code and find out if Shipt services your area.
If you want to use Shipt, you'll need to become a member, which is $99 a year or $14 a month, or you can pay a one-time fee for delivery. Once you're a member, if you buy $35 or more in groceries, there's no shipping fee. Typically, you'll order and receive your groceries in the same day.
Shipt does do markups, to offset the cost of doing your shopping for you. But through the app, you can always find deals, just as you can when shopping inside a store. You also may want to look for a coupon code for Shipt, which might save you even more.
This is a grocery delivery service that specializes in sending healthy foods to you. You take a quiz, and Hungryroot fills up your online cart (or you can say, "No, thanks" and choose your own foods).
Plans start at $59 and up (that doesn't include the membership fee, although you don't have to become a member to use the site). Hungryroot delivers just about everywhere in the U.S., except Alaska and Hawaii. That said, it doesn't offer every type of grocery item, like milk, and so you might have to still use a different grocery delivery service -- or go into a store -- to get everything you need. But, again, if you're looking for a different way to eat healthy, this may be a service you'd enjoy.
[See: 35 Ways to Save Money.]
Tips for Using Grocery Delivery Services
Before you get too deep into online grocery delivery, you might want to remember a few rules of the road, according to Charles Thomas, a certified financial planner who owns Intrepid Eagle Finance in Clover, South Carolina. Beyond being good with money, he does a decent amount of grocery shopping online and has some suggestions for shoppers.
Stay away from small orders. You'll probably pay a delivery fee if you do a small order, Thomas says. The larger the order, however, the less likely it is that you'll pay an extra surcharge.
Understand memberships. Some services come with a membership fee. "The membership fee can mean a discounted delivery charge, so your household could come out ahead depending on your use of the service," Thomas says.
Watch out for markups. Prices may differ if you buy an item online versus in store. "Some services mark up the price on a specific item relative to what you would pay at the same store in person. Not all markups are equal, so keep an eye out and don't assume equal pricing across the board," Thomas says.
Be deliberate about when you order. Consider when to schedule your delivery. "Timing is important," Thomas says. "Some services price their delivery according to when you order. Expect to pay more for Sunday evening delivery compared to Tuesday morning." In other words, when everybody else is shopping, you may want to hold back and do your online grocery delivery when demand drops.