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9 Best Places to Buy Groceries Online

COVID-19 has changed the way many of us go about our daily routine. One change is the way we grocery shop. Maybe you’re immunocompromised and don’t want to risk leaving the house, or you have difficulty wearing a mask, or have kids at home now and can’t run out to the store. Whatever the reason, there are online grocery services that can help you during these trying times. Here’s a list of nine of the top sites and what you need to know about each of them.

First, how do grocery delivery services work?
Instead of walking through each aisle to find everything on your grocery shopping list, you’ll shop for your groceries by building a digital cart at a local supermarket or specialty store. The groceries are delivered to your home. There’s no driving back and forth to the store, no walking up and down the aisles, no contact with others and no waiting in the checkout line.

To choose the best online grocery shopping service for you, be sure to check the company’s minimum order requirements and delivery fees. Also check to see if there’s a membership option available that could save you money or provide additional perks.

Keep in mind that due to the surge in online ordering brought about by COVID-19, many of the online grocery services are experiencing heavy volume, which could result in extended delivery times and out-of-stock/substituted items.

Walmart Grocery

How it works: You can get produce and pre-packaged foods through Walmart’s grocery delivery service—from frozen pizzas to fresh fruit. If you live near a Walmart store that participates in the program, there’s also the option for free curbside pickup of your order. And although Walmart Grocery has been around for a while, the company recently launched a new membership option called Delivery Unlimited. Members get free delivery on all orders for a full year.

Minimum Order: $30
Delivery Fee: Up to $10
Membership: Optional, unlimited free delivery for $98/year

Instacart

How it worksInstacart gives you the ability to order from different stores at one time. Options depend on what’s in your area, but some stores available include Aldi, CVS, Wegmans and Costco or Sam’s Club—no club membership needed. You get a personal shopper who will run your errands; you choose pick-up or delivery. You can shop straight from the app (available on iOS and Android) or directly from the website.

While the service is certainly convenient, keep in mind that the prices are Instacart’s own, so they may be higher than in stores.

Minimum Order: $10
Delivery Fee: 
Starts at $4 for non-members.

Membership: Optional, includes free delivery on orders over $35 for $99/year or $10/month.

Shipt

How it works: Shipt is a grocery delivery service that lets you shop from different stores depending on where you live—including an exclusive partnership with Target. You’ll also find options like CVS and Petco. A personal shopper will hand-pick each item in your order, sending text updates and letting you add or substitute products in your cart. You can get your groceries delivered as quickly as one hour after ordering, and you can place an order whenever the store is open.

Membership is required; however, delivery is free on orders $35 and over. Shipt lets you change the delivery address to send groceries to someone else, which is a nice feature if you have a friend or relative that can’t get out or isn’t comfortable ordering online.

Minimum Order: $35
Delivery Fee: 
$7 for orders below $35

Membership: Required, $99/year or $14/month

Amazon Fresh

How it works: To take advantage of Amazon Fresh, you must be an Amazon Prime member. You can shop fresh producemeat and seafoodprepared meals, organic foods, local fare and more. You can also shop Whole Foods Market through Amazon Fresh. Amazon Prime customers in select cities might prefer Prime Now, a delivery service with no additional monthly fee.

Minimum Order: $35 for free delivery in most locations
Delivery Fee: 
$10 for orders below $35
Membership:
 Required, $12.99/month.

FreshDirect

How it works: FreshDirect is basically like shopping a mainstream grocery store—just online instead of in-person. Along with grocery basics, you can also shop top-rated produce, dishes under 500 calories, new frozen items and more. You can also take advantage of special deals and add coupons at FreshDirect. The service is limited geographically, and is available in New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. areas, along with a few others.

Minimum Order: $30
Delivery Fee: 
Starting at $6
Membership: 
Optional DeliveryPass for unlimited free deliveries; $79/six months or $129/year.

Hungryroot

How it works: Hungryroot is a crossover between a meal subscription and a grocery delivery service. The company only offers health-conscious (and often plant-based) options. You can mix and match staple ingredients like grains and pasta, and flavorful dressings and sauces allow you to switch up the taste. Hungryroot delivers in all U.S. states except Alaska and Hawaii.

Minimum Order: $59
Delivery Fee: 
Free shipping at $70 for non-subscribers
Membership:
 Required, weekly subscription starting at $60/week.

Thrive Market

How it works: Another delivery service focusing on healthy staples, Thrive Market is funded by its memberships and focuses on providing organic products at affordable costs with carbon-neutral delivery. There are fresh and staple items that fit into keto diets as well as paleo and vegan diets. While most of the groceries are shelf-stable, there’s also a good selection of meat and seafood in bulk. Thrive also has a private-label brand, which is popular with customers. You can order via the app or online at their website.

Minimum Order: $49
Delivery Fee: Included with membership.
Membership: Required, $59/year or $9.95/month.

Peapod

How it works: Powered by Stop & Shop, Peapod allows in-zone customers on the East Coast to choose between pick-up and delivery. Very close to the regular shopping experience, you’ll find all of the usual brands, meat, deli goods, dairy and frozen food. While you can type in what you’re looking for into the search bar, you can also browse by aisle and sort products by price. There are also specials, and you can add coupons. New customers get 60 days of free delivery and you can buy a PodPass membership to get free or discounted delivery, depending on your order size.

Minimum Order: $60
Delivery Fee: 
Starting at $7, dependent on demand
Membership: 
Optional, PodPass for discounted deliveries is $35/six months or $119/year

Boxed

How it works: Boxed delivers bulk groceries and more straight to your door. Most of the offerings are shelf-stable, but if you go through the Express Grocery channel, which sends a Boxed Shopper out to do your bidding, you can get seafoodfrozen foodsdairy and other grocery staples. There’s no membership fee to shop Boxed, although you can join Boxed Up, which gets you free or discounted shipping and 2 percent cash rewards. What most customers love is that they can also order Costco’s private-label, Kirkland Signature. While you’ll pay a little more for these items if you don’t have a Costco membership, it’s a nice perk nonetheless.

Minimum Order: $49 for free shipping
Delivery Fee: $7 delivery fee on orders below $49
Membership: Optional, $49/year for free shipping on all orders

Resources: Boxed, Peapod, Thrive Market, Hungryroot, Fresh Direct, Amazon, Shipt, Walmart, Instacart, Good Housekeeping, Readers’ Digest, TheKitchn.com