By now most people are aware of the shopping process of buying groceries online and contactless delivery. But there’s more to it than filling an online cart and scheduling delivery times.
Which grocery delivery services offer unlimited free deliveries? Which one allows you to order alcohol? Who offers fast delivery and great deals on in-store prices?
Before you sign up, read each service’s COVID-19 updates to understand any changes in protocol as the world recovers from the pandemic. Several grocery delivery services have changed their minimum order or delivery fee. Two — Peapod and Amazon’s Prime Pantry —are no longer in operation nationwide. Kroger delivery has expanded into places where it has no physical stores, including Florida, where Publix dominates the grocery game.
8 of the Best Grocery Delivery Services Compared
There are many grocery delivery options out there, so you need to know which one is the best fit for your life and your budget.
But it’s inconvenient and time-consuming when you have to dig around for pricing, restrictions, delivery times and other information about multiple stores to find the best grocery delivery service in your area. You can also get sucked into the novelty of ordering leeks and Lay’s through an app without thinking about the effect on your grocery budget.
To cut through the marketing speak, we’ve broken down the details on what the best grocery delivery services offer 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.
Product pricing: Instacart’s rundown of available stores 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+. For $99 per year or $9.99 per month, you’ll get free delivery for every order over $35. The Instacart+ service also exempts you from peak pricing when Instacart is busy.
Delivery fee: The delivery fee is between $3.99 and $7.99 per order for nonmembers. Orders under $35 cost more. If you want your order in an hour, there is an additional charge.Tipping your personal shopper 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. Alcohol delivery is also available in some locations.
Where: Shipt is available throughout the U.S.
Product 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 $10.99 per month for unlimited free delivery. You can also do a one time delivery for $10 per order.
Delivery fee: 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. If you can wait a couple days for your items, Walmart+ members get free shipping with no order minimum on next-day, two-day and standard shipping on items shipped from Walmart.
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 several grocery ordering options. In some locations, you can have your Walmart grocery order delivered to your doorstep. In many more locations, you can place your order for a pickup window to 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.
Where: Same-day delivery is available in most states. Walmart lets customers reserve a time and store location for pickup in all states.
Product pricing: Pickup at the store is free and products are priced the same as if you had shopped in the Walmart grocery store yourself, but there is a $35 minimum order. If you order groceries to be delivered to your home there is a delivery fee of $7.95 or $9.95. If you use delivery and have an order under $35, you’ll pay a $5.99 fee.
Delivery fee: Express Delivery is another option that costs $10 per delivery plus the $7.95 to $9.95 delivery fee. Your order usually arrives within two hours. The store recently stopped requiring an order be a minimum of $35 for Express Delivery.
With Walmart+ the groceries will likely be same day delivery if you get a good time slot when you place your order. The service costs $98 a year or $12.95 a month. There is no fee for delivery, but the order must cost at least $35.
If you are a Walmart+ member you only pay the $10 Express Delivery fee and not the additional $7.95 to $9.95 delivery fee.
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: Hungryroot is a subscription-based grocery delivery 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.
Product pricing: You’ll build a plan based on how much food you want to receive, and prices are personalized to your plan. The minimum order amount is $65.
Membership: Membership plans start at $70 per week, which covers 3 two serving meals.
Delivery fee: Hungryroot plans ship for free.
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.
5. Thrive Market
What: Thrive Market is a subscription-based grocery delivery 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 meals and 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.
Product 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 or $5 a month. Students, teachers, military members or veterans, first responders and low-income families can apply for free membership through Thrive Gives.
Delivery fee: Shipping is free on orders of groceries over $49. There is a $5.95 delivery charge if your order is below $49. Frozen orders under $120 ship for $19.95 and wine orders under $79 ship for $13.95.
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. You can also get perishable items from your local grocery store delivered to your door through Boxed Express.
Where: Boxed is available for home or business grocery delivery in the contiguous U.S. If you’re in an area eligible for Express, there will be an Express product selection shown on the website.
Product 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 fee: Shipping is free on orders of $49 or more for non-members. Boxed Up members pay no delivery fees on orders of $19.98 or more. There is no fee for Boxed Express.
Coupon policy: Boxed does not accept manufacturer coupons, but you can find Boxed specific coupons in the “Coupons for You” section.
7. 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. Check out through Google or at the store’s site. Each retailer handles its own delivery.
Where: Delivery options depend on which store you shop with.
Product 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 fee: Delivery fees vary by retailer. Most retailers offer free shipping with a minimum order requirement.
Coupon policy: Policies vary by retailer.
What: Kroger has Ship, Delivery, and Pickup programs that give customers the choice of how they’d like to receive their groceries. With Delivery, you can have groceries, including milk and fresh produce, delivered to your door the same day you order, or schedule delivery for a later date. Ship allows you to order nonperishable items and have them mailed to your home in 1-3 days. If you choose Pickup, you can select a time slot and an associate will bring your items to your car.
Where: Kroger Ship is available throughout the continental United States and includes P.O. and APO/FPO boxes. The availability of Delivery and Pickup varies by location.
Product pricing: Prices on Kroger’s website will reflect the prices of your currently selected store and prices could change depending on your delivery/pickup day, current in-store promotions and other factors. The Kroger Ship service offers separate promotions on goods, but no wholesale discounts.
Membership: There is no membership, but you’ll want to create an account so you get fuel points, discounts and digital coupons.
Delivery fee: The Ship service is free with orders over $35. Under $35, the cost varies by location. Delivery charges $9.95 to $11.95 depending upon your location and Pickup has a $4.95 service fee on orders under $35.
Coupon policy: Kroger Delivery accepts digital coupons. Clip them online and they will be automatically applied to your order. Kroger does not accept coupons on Ship orders. Currently, new customers can receive $15 off their first pickup or delivery order over $75.
Other Delivery Services
Some of the best grocery delivery services are only available in select cities or regions, so be sure to check the websites of your local stores.
Here are a few we like:
FreshDirect: Get delivery of grocery staples, including fresh produce and meat, and wines and spirits, in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., Delaware, and seasonally in the Hamptons and New Jersey.
Safeway: This favorite West Coast grocery store lets you order online for store pick up or delivery.
Amazon Fresh: Available to Amazon Prime members and Amazon Prime Student members in select cities, Amazon’s grocery delivery service delivers food, including fresh fruits and vegetables.
Publix: Select locations of the Southeastern grocery store offer grocery delivery and curbside pickup through Instacart. Publix also offers in-store pickup.
What Is the Best Grocery Delivery Service for You?
Each of the best grocery delivery services 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 like to shop around at different stores, or do you have a go-to grocery store?
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 of the best grocery delivery services 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. Contributors Kent McDill, Katherine Snow Smith, Dana Miranda and Jenna Limbach contributed reporting to this story.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.