It's 2021, and the best grocery delivery services are more in demand than ever before. We are all staying at home more, thanks for the ongoing pandemic, and while there's an end in sight, it's still going to be safer to have our groceries delivered for a good portion of this year. With that in mind, we've found the best delivery services to cater for all your fresh food and household needs, whether you want fresh ingredients, store cupboard items, or cleaning products - you can buy almost anything home related online.
When considering what the best grocery delivery services are, we looked at factors like speed and ease of delivery, the range of stock available, the quality of what you actually get, and how often your items are substituted for other things. These are all common factors when it comes to online grocery shopping. One thing we can't do, however, is guarantee you unlimited delivery times as all these providers are extra busy right now. Our advice is to play your grocery shopping ahead, and book your deliveries early.
We've included a range of grocery services to cater for all needs - from regular, cheap everyday items and canned goods, all the way through to premium and specialized foods. If you're looking for pre-prepared food, we have a guide to the best meal kit delivery services, and for luxury hampers, you want our feature on the best gift baskets.
1. Instacart: Best grocery delivery overall
If you love shopping local, look no further than Instacart. A popular option among the best grocery delivery services, it lets customers choose items from participating local stores to big box stores like Costco or Sam’s Club without needing a membership - that means that you can pick all your usual favorites without sacrificing brand preference or the quality of your produce, dairy, meats, canned goods, and so much more. In some places, you can even order items from pet stores and pharmacies. The fact that you’re not restricted to a single store is a huge plus, so if you can’t find what you need in one, you place an order at another store. Instacart employs individuals to do the shopping for you, so they will call you for a substitution for an item that’s no longer available, and provide live updates on expected delivery time. Along with fast delivery and the lowest minimum to order, Instacart is our choice for the best grocery delivery service- just be wary of accumulating delivery fees.
2. Amazon Fresh: Best for Prime members
If you’re already an Amazon Prime member, you’re in luck: you can get free delivery on all Amazon Fresh orders above $35. If you’re ordering groceries once a week, chances are you’re spending more than that amount, so you’d be getting a tremendous deal. It’s just like grocery shopping in person, but without the hassle, time commitment, and large crowds - so you’re saving more than just money, but also time. If you love Whole Foods and the chain’s high-quality items, you can get them with Amazon Fresh - and because Whole Foods has stores all over the country, Amazon Fresh is one of the most widely spread services. But if you’re not an Amazon Prime member, you’re out of luck. A membership is required to order from Amazon Fresh, and that will set you back $119 annually. If you choose to opt in, you won’t regret it.
3. FreshDirect: Best rewards program
FreshDirect doesn’t seem like the best deal, at first: unless you have the DeliveryPass membership, you’re spending a good chunk of cash on delivery fees alone. However, every customer benefits from mountains of deals, coupons, and sales. And if you qualify for the Chef’s Table loyalty program (to qualify, place 12 orders or spend an average of $500 or more each calendar month during any three-month period), you’ll benefit from even more savings. With all those reductions and price slashing, you’ll more than likely make up the cost of delivery if you’re not a member. The savings alone are worth looking into FreshDirect, but don’t forget about the high quality produce and fresh fare that come straight from the source. Fill your online cart with the freshest possible food along with popular brand-name items, and you won’t miss your local grocery store - just first check whether or not FreshDirect can service your area, as coverage is limited.
4. Walmart Grocery: Best for all needs
Low Walmart prices apply to Walmart Grocery, which means you’re saving every time you buy. But that’s not all: you don’t just have access to Walmart’s fresh, canned, and frozen food selection, but also to everything else Walmart has in stock. You can add anything from kitchenware to beauty products to clothing in your cart when you use Walmart Grocery, so if there’s something you need but don’t have, you don’t have to waste time going to another store to get it. The big box retailer has stores in 1,600 cities all over the country, so wherever you are, you can turn to Walmart Grocery for your food delivery. Just be wary of the high delivery fees, though.
5. Peapod: Best value
Current Stop & Shop members should choose Peapod for their grocery delivery needs: if you connect your Stop & Shop account, you’ll benefit from additional discounts on gas and school supplies. New customers also have an incentive to sign up now: not only does Stop & Shop have a full assortment of quality name-brand products as well as store-brand products, but they’re also offered at discounted prices. The site is always full of daily promotions and savings, and brand new customers get $20 off and free delivery on their first order. Every order over $60 during the first 60 days also qualifies for free delivery. Delivery fees vary by order amount, but you can reduce how much you pay if you opt for the PodPass subscription. Those plans’ costs vary too, so pick carefully if you want to maximize your savings.
How to choose the best grocery delivery service for your needs
If you’re struggling to pick the best grocery delivery service for you, start by considering your needs, habits, and preferences to make your pick. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- How important is it to you to support local businesses?
- How often do you go grocery shopping, and how much do you spend on groceries on each trip?
- What types of groceries do you buy the most? Do you prefer fresh, organic produce, or are partial to canned goods?
- How important is it for you to get member discounts, perks, and coupons?
- Are you willing to commit to a membership?
- Which grocery delivery services are available in your area?
Your answers to the above questions will help inform which of the best delivery grocery services you should pick. If shopping at independent and local grocery stores is of the utmost importance, your best bet will be Instacart. But if you want savings upon savings on each order, consider Peapod or FreshDirect.
How to get a grocery delivery time slot that's best for you
The best grocery delivery services are becoming increasingly popular. Everyone is eligible to get their groceries delivered, not just the elderly or those who are extremely busy - browsing cramped aisles in close proximity to others is an idea that many are turning away from.
But with the increase in demand, how can you ensure that you’ll get your groceries delivered at a time that’s best for you? And how do you guarantee a time slot, when there appears to be none available? Here are some tips to make sure that you can get your groceries delivered regularly.
- Try to be flexible: If you are home most of the time, you have the luxury of receiving your groceries at almost any point during the day. If you have a preferred time that’s often unavailable, opt for a time frame that is either very early in the day or very late - these are times when there is less demand.
- Order in advance: If you can order 2 weeks or more in advance, it’s wise to do so. It’s likely that not as many people are thinking about what they need in their fridges and pantries that far ahead of time, so you’re more likely to get a time slot you want and that’s convenient for you.
- Order with a group: If finding a time slot for grocery delivery is hard, regardless of the time of day, considering ordering with a group. There will be less competition for the time slot, and you’ll get the groceries you want, when you want.
- Order in bulk: Try ordering less often, and ordering more at a time. That will mean forgoing some fresh produce in favor of canned or frozen foods, but you’ll be more likely to have enough food for a longer period of time instead of scrambling for groceries if you can’t get a time slot.
- If you can, pick the time slot before you fill your cart: Some of the best grocery delivery services will allow you to choose when you want your groceries delivered before adding items to your virtual cart.
- Place your order very early in the day: Grocery delivery time slots will have the most availability earlier in the day, especially on the latest delivery day available for scheduling.
- Check for slots often: If you can't get a grocery delivery time slot, try looking for one at several points during the day. Set a schedule of checking every couple of hours, so you have a better chance of snatching one up as soon as someone cancels an order.