Grocery shopping–some people love it, some people hate it; either way, it’s something we all need to do. Eating out every day isn’t cost-effective, and it’s certainly not healthy. Luckily, there’s a very easy way to buy groceries these days–online.Buying groceries online is more expensive than doing the shopping yourself, but you may save money overall by doing less impulse shopping and more cooking at home.
Here are the best places to buy groceries online, plus I’ll discuss if it’s really cheaper than going to the store yourself.
Why You Might Want To Buy Groceries Online
It Saves Time
The biggest reason folks like the idea of buying groceries online is the fact that it saves time, and a lot of it. I know when I go grocery shopping, I’m in the store for at least an hour, if not longer if it’s a bigger trip.
When you get groceries delivered to your door, you don’t spend an hour wandering aimlessly through the grocery store. For us FI-minded folks, those hours you spend grocery shopping can be better spent elsewhere, like on a side-hustle for instance.
You Won’t Be Tempted To Buy As Much
While you’re going up and down every aisle of the grocery store, you’re often throwing things in your cart simply because it looks good. Those cookies weren’t on your list, and you don’t need them in your diet.
So, while you have to pay a higher price to get groceries delivered, it may balance out if you’re an impulse buyer. When you can see how much you’re spending right in your cart online, it becomes a lot easier to curb your impulse spending.
An Overview Of The Best Places To Buy Groceries Online
Here’s a simple comparison of a few of the best places you can buy groceries online. We dig deeper down below.
|Cost||Delivery or Pick up?||Grocery Options||Delivery Time|
|Amazon Prime Pantry||$4.99/month + $199 yearly Prime subscription||Delivery||Thousands of everyday groceries||4 business days|
|Amazon Fresh||$14.99/month + $119 yearly Prime subscription||Both||Local, fresh, organic produce||Scheduled delivery (2-3 hour time slot)|
|Instacart||$99 for Instacart Express (which comes with free delivery) or $3.99 per delivery.||Delivery||Local grocery stores||9am and run as late as midnight (can get your grocery 1+ hours after you order)|
|Kroger||$5.95 delivery fee and a $6.00 service charge||Both||Anything from Kroger stores||Scheduled delivery|
|Walmart||Free||Both||Anything from Walmart stores||8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., 7 days a week|
|Shipt||Unlimited deliveries for $99/year||Delivery||Local stores||1+ hours|
Amazon Prime Pantry
For Amazon Prime fans, adding Amazon Prime Pantry to your membership may be a great deal. Prime Pantry has the most food options available out of the services on this list. Plus, Amazon recently acquired Whole Foods, meaning you have access to Whole Foods products all online.
Amazon Prime Pantry is obviously best for Amazon Prime members since you’ll need a membership to shop the Pantry. But it’s also great for those who want to do all of their grocery shopping online. You don’t need to buy in bulk like many other online grocery services–and you shop for groceries like you’d shop for any other product on Amazon, making it easy to use.
You’ll have to be an Amazon Prime member , which costs $119 per year ($12.99/month). In addition, you’ll need to pay $4.99/month and you’ll get free delivery on all orders over $10.
- Everyday grocery items: Unlike most grocery delivery services, where you have to buy food in bulk, Amazon Prime Pantry offers everyday package sizes (you can get a single bottle of water or a single box of cereal).
- AmazonFresh customers get free shipping: If you’re already a member of Amazon’s other grocery delivery service, AmazonFresh , you’ll automatically get free shipping on every order through Prime Pantry.
- 30-day free trial: If you want to try Amazon Prime Pantry, but aren’t quite convinced it’s worth the money, Amazon is currently offering a 30-day free trial .
AmazonFresh is a little different from Amazon Prime Pantry in that it delivers groceries from local stores. Right now, AmazonFresh is only available in select cities. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to see where it’s available. It wasn’t available in my city, but Portland, Maine isn’t typically considered a large enough city to have much of anything.
AmazonFresh is best for those who want fresh, local food and don’t mind spending a little extra to get it. AmazonFresh is expensive, but the service is worth it for busy folks who still want to eat healthily.
In addition to the $119 per year Amazon Prime membership, you’ll have to pay an extra $14.99 for AmazonFresh. Unfortunately, there’s also a $9.99 delivery fee. However, there are certain regions that receive free shipping on orders of $35 or more.
- Schedule your delivery: With AmazonFresh, you can schedule a delivery that’s convenient for you, so you can get your food when it’s at its freshest.
- Pick-up option: If you want to swing by and pick up your groceries after work, Amazon will organize a pick-up at one of your local grocery stores and your groceries will be loaded into your car for you.
- 30-day free trial: If you want to try AmazonFresh out but don’t want to pay, Amazon currently offers a 30-day free trial.
For those who live in a city where Instacart delivers, you’ll get access to groceries delivered from local stores.
But there’s plenty of other features that may make you want to go with Instacart.
Instacart is best for those looking for organic, everyday products, and who want same-day delivery. Compared to AmazonFresh, the other organic food supplier on this list, Instacart is cheaper–their membership is just $99 a year versus Amazon’s $119 membership + $14.99 Fresh membership.
There are two ways you can pay for access to Instacart. You can pay for Instacart Express, which gets you access to unlimited free shipping. Instacart Express will run you $99.
Or, if you don’t want to pay for a membership, you can pay $3.99 per delivery. This is a better option for those who may only use Instacart every once in a while.
- Coupons: If you think you can’t be a master couponer with an online grocery company, think again. Instacart offers a variety of coupons you can use during
- Organic, everyday products: Instacart focuses on fresh, organic product, which is why they deliver locally sourced food. They offer thousands of your favorite, everyday products, so while you might not be able to find everything you need, you can find most of it.
- Same-day delivery: Perhaps one of the best features of Instacart is the fact that they offer same-day delivery. It’s a service that caters to busy folks, so this is no surprise.
Kroger Grocery Pick Up/Delivery
Kroger has expanded beyond other traditional grocery stores and now offers pick-up at select locations and delivery to your home or office.
This service is obviously best for Kroger customers. If it’s your grocery store of choice and you want to save time by having your groceries delivered or picking them up at your local store, you should definitely consider using Kroger Grocery Pickup/Delivery.
When you want delivery, you’ll be charged a $5.95 delivery fee and a $6.00 service charge. When you schedule to pickup your groceries, the service fee is waived for your first three orders. After that fees vary by region.
- Choose your own pickup/delivery: Kroger is fairly flexible when it comes to delivery and pickup. You can schedule your delivery or pickup for whatever time works for you, as long as there are drivers available (it’s becoming more popular, so usually there are plenty of drivers).
- Great coupons: Coupons aren’t just reserved for Kroger customers that shop in-store. There’s a huge section of “digital coupons” that you can apply to your cart at checkout.
Walmart is best for those who shop at Walmart frequently. It’s also best for any location. Many of these other services are available in limited location, but there’s a Walmart in most cities, and even many rural locations.
One of the best things about Walmart is the fact that they’re the only one on our list that offers free pickup and often times free delivery.
- No fees: If you need to save time, but can take a few minutes to pickup your grocery order, Walmart should be your go-to. They don’t mark up their prices for pickup customers, and there’s no service fee.
- Available country-wide: Out of all of the services on this list, Walmart by-far has the most pickup locations. Within a few miles of me are three Walmart pickup locations. In larger cities there are even more Walmart grocery pickup locations.
Shipt is one of the best grocery delivery services, and it’s definitely geared towards the tech-savvy. You can order products from your local stores through the Shipt app, and then you can connect through text with your shopper in case you need to make any changes.
I was surprised that Shipt delivered to my area, considering most of the other services don’t. In my area specifically, Shipt will deliver groceries from stores like Shaws, CVS, Target, and Petco.
Shipt is the best option for those looking for groceries and household products from stores they already know. It’s also great for those who want fast delivery. When drivers are available, you can get your groceries in as little as an hour!
With Shipt you have two options for membership – yearly or monthly. The yearly subscription is $99 a year, while the monthly subscription is $14 per month.
Delivery for members is free for every order over $35. For orders under $35, you’ll be subject to a $7 delivery fee, so it’s really in your best interest to spend more than $35 each time you shop.
In addition, Shipt is open and honest about their prices and points out that you’ll pay about $5 more on a $35 order that you order online rather than pick up at the store. The extra you spend goes towards paying your shopper and delivery driver.
- Delivery in as little as one hour: You may be able to get your groceries delivered to you in just one hour. The delivery time, of course depends on where you’re located and how many Shipt shoppers there are available.
- Your Shipt shopper learns your preferences: Shipt claims that after a few orders with Shipt, your shoppers will learn your preferences when it comes to produce, so if you’re picky about what your vegetables look like, Shipt is happy to help.
Is It Cheaper To Buy Groceries Online?
Buying groceries online isn’t usually about the savings, it’s about convenience. And you’ll need to pay a little more for that convenience. That’s why buying groceries online is often not cheaper than going to the grocery store. Although, you may save money overall by doing less impulse shopping and more cooking at home.
With that being said, if you want to pay for the convenience of buying groceries online, some services are better and cost less than others. Below is a chart that easily compares the above online grocery services, so you can choose which one is cost-effective and best for you.
|Online Grocery Service||Cost|
|Amazon Prime Pantry||$4.99/month + $199 yearly Prime subscription|
|AmazonFresh||$14.99/month + $199 yearly Prime subscription|
|Instacart||$99 for Instacart Express (which comes with free deliver) or $3.99 per delivery.|
|Kroger Grocery Pick Up||$5.95 delivery fee and a $6.00 service charge|
|Shipt||Unlimited deliveries for $99/year|
Which Should You Choose?
There are a couple of ways to pick the best place to buy groceries online. The first is obviously about location. Unfortunately, many of these services only deliver to large cities. Walmart is your best bet if you live in a more rural community.
Types Of Groceries
Which one you choose will also be determined by the type of groceries you’re looking for. If you want local, organic food, go with AmazonFresh or Instacart. If you just want delivery from your local grocery store, choose either Kroger or Shipt.
If you’re a die-hard Amazon Prime member, both AmazonFresh and Amazon Prime Pantry should be your go-to.
Want to hear what others in the FI community think about online grocery shopping? Check out the Facebook thread that inspired this article.
Most folks shop for almost everything online, including groceries now. In most cases, buying groceries online to be delivered or picked up won’t be cheaper than going to the grocery store, but you may save by limiting your impulse purchases and you’ll simply have more time.
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