Making good on its promise from last December, Amazon announced the official end of Amazon Fresh and the official beginning of Amazon Prime Fresh. Though similar in name and purpose — both services deliver groceries to your house — there's one key difference stirring up drama among Amazon's users: its high price of $299 per year. For the past eight years in the company's hometown of Seattle, the original Fresh service was available at no extra charge.
Now, Prime Fresh's $299 price tag includes Amazon Prime. So, in addition to grocery delivery, Prime Fresh users will be able to enjoy two-day shipping on Amazon.com purchases, cloud photo storage space, streaming TV shows and movies, and the rest of the Prime perks. Considering Prime usually costs $99 per year, Prime Fresh is more like a $200 upgrade to the normal service.
But even at $200 per year, is Amazon Prime Fresh a better choice than other options for the price?
*Amazon hasn't responded to inquiries regarding its delivery fees. Earlier, before Amazon Prime Fresh, the company offered grocery delivery in parts of California with no subscription required. Amazon charged a $7.99 delivery fee for that service.
At less than $100 per year, Instacart ($99/year) and Google Express ($95/year) are the runaway winners on value, followed by FreshDirect ($119/year) and Peapod Pod Pass ($59/six months), and Prime Fresh far behind.
Even when you look beyond the subscription price, Google Express and Instacart stand out as the better deals. Instacart boasts a relatively low threshold for free delivery, at $35. By comparison, Amazon's free-delivery minimum is $50, and Peapod's is $100. Google and FreshDirect don't have a threshold at all, though FreshDirect does have a $30 order minimum.
MORE: What Is Amazon Prime (and Is It Worth It for You?)
Amazon Prime Fresh is also much less likely than some of the other services to be an option for your grocery needs. Right now, the only places where you can pay for Amazon's premium shopping service are the New York metro area, the Philadelphia metro area, northern California, southern California and the Pacific Northwest.
Prime Fresh's ordering interface also gives you a window into the wonderful and wide world of Amazon, so if you frequent the big A for nonfood products too, Prime Fresh might be worth the extra cheddar. The same goes for current Amazon Prime subscribers. But if you're not already an Amazon fan, you'll probably prefer to buy your groceries elsewhere.
However, if you don't mind paying a premium for food from the Web, there are a few other popular options for you. Blue Apron promises three meals for two people at $59.95 per week. The company sends you fresh ingredients and a recipe, and you make the meals yourself in your own kitchen. Blue Apron also offers a family option for $69.92 per week.
Soylent proposes essentially the exact opposite of Blue Apron. The ultranutritious shake known as Soylent 2.0 comes premade in a recyclable plastic bottle, so there's no prep necessary. It's pricey, though: It would cost you about $348 to subsist entirely on Soylent 2.0 for one month. That might be part of the reason the company says most people use it somewhere between a twice-weekly meal and a total food substitute.