Can You Save Money Using a Grocery Delivery Service? We Investigate.

Can You Save Money Using a Grocery Delivery Service? We Investigate.
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I have to make a trip to the grocery store several times a week, and I often find myself wandering the aisles for an hour or more. Sure, sometimes grocery shopping can be fun, but most of us have better things to do with that hour of time. Luckily, we live in the 21st century, and there are a lot of new grocery delivery/pickup apps and services I've been itching to try. But can getting groceries to-go save you both time AND money? I decided to find out. 

I took a look at some of the most popular grocery delivery or pickup services to see how they stack up, both on price and on service. I started out by going to my local grocery store (Super Stop & Shop) and picking up some basics for the week: pasta sauce, cheese, milk, and ice cream. I'm going to use these items to compare pricing across all the different stores and services in this article.

This is how much these items cost at my local grocery store:

  • Prego Traditional Pasta Sauce (24oz): $2.49
  • 24ct of Kraft American Cheese Singles: $4.79
  • 1 Gal Hood Milk $4.09
  • 14oz Haagen-Dazs Chocolate Ice Cream $3.29 (this was actually on sale for $2.88)

Total spent: $14.66

Not bad. Now let's see how my local grocer holds up against the rest!

Walmart

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Walmart recently unveiled a new way to save time at the grocery store. Visit walmart.com/grocery, or download their mobile app, add grocery items to your cart and select the option for same-day grocery pickup. Then all you have to do is drive to your local Walmart, park in a designated spot, call and let them know you're there, and a Walmart employee will load up your car for you! They have dedicated employees who shop for the freshest produce, meats, and other grocery items. And in certain locations, delivery is available!

The catch? This service is not yet widespread. I live in a pretty big metro area and this is not available near me, even though there is a Walmart nearby. You can join a mailing waitlist and they will email you when the service is available in your area.

Pricing: This is a free service, and even better, new customers can save $10 on their first order of $50 or more by using the code WOWFRESH at checkout. Here's how much my items would cost if I'd been able to use this service in my area:

  • Prego Traditional Pasta Sauce (80z): $1.98
  • 24ct of Kraft American Cheese Singles: $3.88
  • 1 Gal Great Value Milk $3.98
  • 14oz Haagen-Dazs Chocolate Ice Cream $4.37

Total spent: $14.21

Peapod

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Peapod is a grocery delivery service that works with Stop & Shop and Giant to fulfill orders. They have their own warehouses in select locations across the country, and you can choose to either pick up your purchases from your local grocery store or have them delivered. You can schedule your order for the next day, or up to two weeks out. They serve 24 markets in the U.S., mostly the Northeast and the Illinois/North Central area. Same-day delivery is not available.

Like a physical store, Peapod features weekly specials. They also have some easy shopping tools, where they will match recipe ingredients for you. They can also keep track of your shopping history, for easy reordering in certain areas.

Pricing: New customers can save $20 on their first order, plus get free delivery. After your first order, you'll pay at least $6.95 to get your groceries delivered.

  • Prego Traditional Pasta Sauce (80z): $1.99
  • 24ct of Kraft American Cheese Singles: $4.79
  • 1 Gal Stop & Shop Brand Milk $3.19
  • 14oz Haagen-Dazs Chocolate Ice Cream $3.33

Total spent: $13.33 (+ delivery)

FreshDirect

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Fresh Direct is an online grocer that delivers mostly to the New York City metro area and around the Northeastern U.S., which is mostly known for its organic selection and its sourcing from local farms, butchers, and more. This service is convenient for city-dwellers, who may have a harder time making big grocery trips. Imaging having to buy two-weeks worth of groceries with no car, and having to haul them up five flights of stairs to your top floor apartment! FreshDirect solves this issue by delivering right to your door.

You can make a standing weekly reservation, so you know your groceries will be delivered on your schedule. They also sell meal kits, so you’ll get all of the ingredients you need (plus a recipe) to make the meal.

Pricing: First time customers can get unlimited delivery for just a penny. Discounted full-year delivery is $129/year. Use offer code WELCOME to get $25 off your first order of $99 or more!

  • Prego Traditional Pasta Sauce (80z): $2.99
  • 16ct of Kraft American Cheese Singles: $4.49 (they didn’t offer the 24ct package)
  • 1 Gal Tuscan Dairy Farms Milk $3.99
  • 14oz Haagen-Dazs Chocolate Ice Cream $4.99

Total spent: $16.46 (+ delivery)

Jet.com

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Jet ships fresh and frozen groceries (in one to two days) Monday through Friday. You don’t have to schedule delivery, it will all be packaged to stay cold at your door. You may benefit from buying buying in bulk here, as items can be discounted in larger sizes.

Pricing: Shipping starts at $5.99 or is free over $35, but any order that has to be cold-shipped will always incur a $4.95 flat fee. New customers can use the code SPRING15 to save 15% on their first three orders (over $35). Currently, they also have a code SAVEFRESH20 that saves you 20% on your first fresh food order (through 6/5).

Prego Traditional Pasta Sauce (80z): $2.08
24ct of Kraft American Cheese Singles: $3.69
1 Gal Great Value Organic Milk $8.89 (They did not sell a non-organic gallon of milk)
14oz Haagen-Dazs Chocolate Ice Cream $4.69

Total spent: $19.35 (+ delivery)

Instacart

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Instacart doesn't actually have a warehouse. All of their groceries come from stores in your area, and they work with personal shoppers who will go to Whole Foods, Costco, Petco, or wherever you need supplies from, and grab your orders in person. You can even get your groceries delivered to your door in less than an hour! They are located in 26 states and in Washington, DC. Participating stores vary by location.

Pricing: An Instacart Express membership costs $149 per year, although they are currently offering a promotion for $99. For one hour delivery, it costs $5.99 for orders over $35. Non-rush deliveries, the price is $3.99 for orders over $35. There is a $10 minimum.

The pricing of each item depends entirely on the store you choose. I chose a grocery store in my area for these.

Prego Traditional Pasta Sauce (80z): $2.67
24ct of Kraft American Cheese Singles: $4.79
1 Gal Cream-O-Land Milk $3.59
14oz Haagen-Dazs Chocolate Ice Cream $4.99

Total spent: $16.04 (+ delivery)

AmazonFresh

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This is a service for Prime members only, which allows you to shop the Amazon site for groceries and schedule either same-day or future delivery. They have a selection of fresh and frozen items, as well as pantry staples. They even have some local items you can choose, like breads, meats, etc.

Pricing: Prime membership costs $99 per year, and you'll also have to pay a $14.99 monthly fee for the Fresh service. Delivery is $9.99 or free over $40, and tips are not included.

  • Prego Traditional Pasta Sauce (80z): $1.99
  • 24ct of Kraft American Cheese Singles: $4.97
  • 1 Gal Hood Milk $3.94
  • 14oz Haagen-Dazs Chocolate Ice Cream $4.29 (we did notice price varies by flavor)

Total cost: $15.19 (+ delivery and Prime membership)

Breaking it all down:

Walmart definitely wins on pricing here, especially if you use the offer code WOWFRESH to shave $10 off your first order. However, their availability is currently really limited, so it's not the best option for everyone. The most expensive store on this list was Jet, although they had the least expensive delivery service, so it's kind of a toss up. At the end of the day, shopping at my local grocery store, while a bit time consuming, may actually be my best option, but I'm hopeful that this will change as more companies like this burst onto the scene.

Want to save even more on your next trip to the grocery store? Check out these related articles:

What is your favorite way to get groceries for less? Let us know in the comments!