The best grocery delivery services are like magic. They bring fresh meat, produce, dairy and pantry staples right to your doorstep — no need to navigate stores or parking lots.
The best grocery delivery services have been essential for many people during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for those in quarantine. And with social distancing still recommended in parts of the country, grocery delivery services continue to remain in high demand.
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Even at the height of the pandemic, supermarkets were considered an essential business and never shut down. Still, getting groceries delivered at home is a very convenient option for many people. The best grocery delivery services offer fresh produce, meat, seafood, eggs, cheese, prepared foods and meal kits. Others only sell nonperishable, shelf-stable pantry items like pasta, cereal, canned goods and snacks.
As far as delivery fees and times, they run the gamut. Some offer free delivery with add-on memberships, and most require a minimum order. You can get groceries delivered within an hour in some places or schedule them for the next day or later in the week. And in light of the coronavirus pandemic, most of these services offer contactless delivery, so the order will be dropped off outside the door.
Here are the best grocery delivery services right now.
What are the best grocery delivery services?
Online shopping has become ubiquitous in recent years. Now, people buy everything online: clothes, electronics, furniture, toilet paper and even groceries. The best grocery delivery services offer everything that you can get at the store, but with the convenience of being dropped off at your home. At the top of our list of the best grocery delivery services are Amazon Fresh and Instacart, both of which are widely available across the United States. They operate differently (Amazon Fresh puts together orders in a warehouse, while Instacart uses personal shoppers who go to local stores near you), but both offer a range of goods, from fresh produce to meat and seafood to non-perishables like pasta to cleaning supplies.
The other options that round out the list of best grocery delivery services have more limitations, whether it’s availability in many locations or the breadth of products they sell. None are exactly cheap when it comes to delivery fees, but convenience comes at a premium. FreshDirect has top-quality organic produce but at higher prices and in only a handful of states. Peapod and Shipt also have limited coverage areas, though they do feature great deals and coupons. The best grocery delivery services will help budget-conscious shoppers find savings. And even if you just want to stock up the pantry, options like Google Shopping and Prime Pantry allow you to do so at just the click of a button.
For anyone looking to replace their regular, weekly in-store grocery shopping experience, Amazon Fresh may be the best choice if you’re already an Amazon Prime member, but Instacart provides targeted access to your favorite store.
The best grocery delivery services right now
Amazon Fresh is essentially a digital grocery store. It used to be an add-on service but now comes free for Amazon Prime members. The store offers fresh produce, meat, dairy, seafood, packaged foods, Whole Foods 365 products and household goods, such as cleaning supplies. You can even shop for electronics, clothing and toys on Amazon Fresh. The interface is the same as the rest of Amazon, so using it is easy and familiar. Just add items to your cart and then check out.
Amazon Fresh offers free two-hour delivery in most cases if you meet an order minimum (which vary by area). For a fee in some areas, you can get your delivery within the hour. You can also schedule a time in advance. Pickup is available in some cities and is free. Plus, Amazon Fresh offers coupons and deals if you are looking to save on groceries.
Try the Amazon Fresh service now.
Instacart uses personal shoppers to pick up items for you from local stores. You can even order from Costco and Sam’s Club without needing a membership (though you will pay more than members would in the store). Some areas even allow you to order from liquor stores, pet stores and pharmacies. As you’re shopping, you can indicate substitutes if any items are unavailable. Or you can have the shopper contact you to ask about replacement products. You’ll receive live updates and can track the shopper’s progress on GPS.
If you upgrade to Instacart Express, you get free two-hour delivery on orders over $35 and you can also shop from multiple stores at the same time. Otherwise, you have to pay a fee starting at $3.99, which goes up during busier times of the day and varies by how quickly you want your delivery. Learn more about Instacart promo codes, delivery fees and becoming a shopper.
Try the Instacart service now.
Walmart Grocery pickup and delivery is available most major cities. Previously, the service allowed you to order from Walmart for same-day pickup. Now, you can have that order delivered to you, also same-day. Walmart Grocery has existed on a separate app from the main Walmart app, but the company plans to merge them soon.
So, what can you buy? Everything from groceries (perishable and nonperishable) to home goods to electronics to beauty products to clothing — anything Walmart sells at low Walmart prices, which is why it's one of the best grocery delivery services. You can get fresh fruit and outdoor gear at the same time! Once you order, you can select an open delivery window up to a week in advance. And if you sign up for the Delivery Unlimited package, shipping is free. Otherwise, the delivery fee starts at $7.95.
Try the Walmart Grocery service now.
FreshDirect is limited to a handful of Northeast states and offers those areas high-quality produce, meat, seafood, cheese, baked goods and pantry staples. They also make their own brand of meal kits and prepared meals — you could buy an entire Thanksgiving meal, as an example. You can also buy farmshare boxes, fresh flowers, household goods, personal care items and alcohol in some areas. Because their goods are top-notch (and often organic), their prices reflect that so you may experience some sticker shock.
If you’re in New York City, you can also use their sister grocery delivery service, Food Kick, which offers same-day shipping. And in the summers, FreshDirect expands its coverage zone to the Jersey Shore and Hamptons. Their fees are high, depending on the specific area, as is the monthly and yearly passes. But if you want quality groceries, you have to pay for them.
Try the FreshDirect service now
Peapod is one of the first of the best grocery delivery services, though it’s not in many regions right now. They recently pulled out of the Midwest and the Washington D.C. area. Peapod offers all the standard groceries like fresh vegetables and fruit, meat, dairy and pantry staples but also their own brand of meal kits. There’s decent savings to be had, too: They double manufacturers’ coupons up to $0.99. Be sure to sign up for their emails, which also tout special deals.
When you first sign up for Peapod, you can save $20 off your first order and get 60 days of free delivery with the promo code 60DAYSFREE. After that, you can get free delivery with PodPass, but only by ordering over $100. Otherwise, the delivery fee varies by your order total and the day and time you select.
Try the Peapod service now
Google Shopping, formerly known as Google Express, offers mostly non-perishable items from a variety of stores, including Target. Think Prime Pantry crossed with Instacart (but without the personal shopper). Again, if you order from a membership-exclusive store like Costco, you will pay a premium price that is more than members would pay. Depending on the store, if you meet the order minimum, you get free shipping.
The delivery windows also depend on the store; some offer same-day shipping from Fedex and UPS, but you’re more likely to receive your items the next day or in several business days. As to what you can buy, you can shop the standard pantry staples like baking ingredients, pasta, beverages, canned vegetables and fruits, snacks and condiments. In some areas, you can buy non-refrigerated vegetables and fruit and fresh flowers.
Shipt is similar to Instacart but requires you to sign up for a membership, which comes with free shipping on orders over $35 (for smaller orders, the fee is $7). Shipt has a somewhat limited coverage area versus the other best grocery delivery services, but still offers convenience and decent prices. They promote weekly sales, coupons and deals (including buy-one-get-one-free) if you’re looking to save on your grocery budget.
Like Instacart, you get a personal shopper who will pick up the items on your list from various local stores, including Kroger, Target and CVS. In some areas, you can even get alcohol. If your personal shopper has questions about substitutes, they will contact you to discuss adjustments to the order. Once you place an order, you can get your items as quickly as within the hour or schedule the delivery in the next two weeks.
Try the Shipt service now
Think of Amazon Prime Now as two “storefronts,” one of which is Whole Foods. That means you can buy the grocery store’s fresh produce, meat, cheese, baked goods and prepared foods. The other storefront is Amazon goods, including its own groceries (like the ones available via Amazon Fresh) as well as other items like electronics, clothing and household supplies. The Whole Foods items and Amazon items will go into separate carts when you check out. Then, you can select a time slot as soon as within two hours (some areas have one-hour delivery).
So what is the difference between Prime Now and Amazon Fresh? Well, Fresh sells Whole Foods 365 branded items, but not Whole Foods groceries (meat, produce, cheese, etc.) But yes, the two services are very similar and we wouldn’t be surprised if they merge soon.
Note: Prime Pantry is suspended and not accepting new orders due to coronavirus-related demand.
Prime Pantry, like Amazon Fresh, is free for Amazon Prime members. But unlike Amazon Fresh, Pantry doesn’t have groceries. Instead, it offers nonperishable, shelf-stable household goods like pasta, cereal, and snacks as well as cleaning supplies and pet food. Pantry sells these goods in bulk and in smaller portions, like a single box of cereal or personal-sized snacks. It’s one of the best grocery delivery services if you’re looking to stock up on household goods as preparation for a natural disaster or the recent coronavirus pandemic.
A Prime Pantry membership costs $4.99 a month and offers free delivery with a minimum order of $10. If you’re a non-member, you have to order $35 worth to get free delivery. Orders under $35 will cost you $5.99 in shipping. All deliveries take up to four business days, though, so this is one of the slower grocery delivery services on our list.
Try the Prime Pantry service now
How to choose the best grocery delivery service for you
The first thing to do when deciding which is the best grocery delivery service for you is determining which are available in your city or area.
If you want to find out which of the best grocery delivery services is in your area, here’s a handy list to check for availability. Just visit these links, enter your zip code or address information to learn which grocery delivery service will bring groceries right to your door.
- Amazon Fresh (check availability)
- Walmart Grocery (check availability)
- Instacart (check availability)
- FreshDirect (check availability)
- Peapod (check availability)
- Google Shopping (check availability)
- Shipt (check availability)
- Amazon Prime Now (check availability)
- Amazon Prime Pantry (check availability)
Once you’ve narrowed down the list to the best grocery delivery services in your area, consider what you need to buy. If you need fresh produce and meat, you should go with Amazon Fresh, Walmart Grocery, Instacart, FreshDirect, Peapod, Shipt or Amazon Prime Now. If you only need non-perishables, consider Google Shopping or Prime Pantry.
You may also want to consider the quality of the groceries. If you want organic produce, we recommend FreshDirect or Prime Now (which sells Whole Foods produce). If you want to shop at your favorite store, go with Instacart or Shipt. If you want to buy pre-made meal kits, check out Peapod and FreshDirect. If you’re all about a budget, Walmart Grocery may have some of the lowest prices.
Grocery delivery alternatives
With so much demand for the best grocery delivery services right now, many of the providers on our list are experiencing delays. It's often hard to find open delivery slots, as well.
Other businesses, as well as new enterprises, are starting to step into the avoid. Panera has expanded from delivery of its usual menu of sandwiches, soups and salads to offer pantry essentials including milk, fruit and vegetables and their signature bread items. The goods are priced competitively to similar items found in supermarkets.
The self-driving startup Nuro recently received approval to test its driverless delivery robots in California. The company has already tested driverless delivery in Arizona and Texas and will now expand into nine Bay Area cities. Their service focuses on "last mile" deliveries — groceries, laundry, take-out orders, etc. Down the road, Nuro's robots could bring your supermarket order to you.