By Cara Everett, MS, RDN
Medically Reviewed by Vanessa Ling, ND, CNS
Reviewed by Brandy Bauer, Director, NCOA Center for Benefits Access
Grocery Delivery Services: Key Takeaways
- Grocery delivery services bring food and household products right to your door, saving the time and hassle of shopping in stores.
- Many grocery delivery services can help you stretch your food budget by accepting SNAP/EBT payments and providing online coupons and bulk sizes.
- Consider your budget, shopping frequency, and diet preferences to choose the best grocery delivery service for your needs.
Grocery delivery services can bring food and other household products right to your door. And some of them even accept payment by Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards, allowing you to use your Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for online groceries. SNAP is a federal safety net program that helps people buy the food they need to be healthy so they can move toward self-sufficiency, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.1
While many regional grocery stores such as Kroger, Safeway, and Aldi offer home delivery in limited areas, this review focuses on the best grocery delivery services that are available nationwide. Read on to find out how grocery delivery services work, what fees are included with the top grocery deliveries, and what to look for when buying groceries online.
A quick look at the best grocery delivery services
- Best Grocery Delivery for SNAP Benefits: Instacart
- Cheapest Grocery Delivery Service: Walmart InHome
- Best Grocery Delivery for Special Diets: Thrive Market
- Best Grocery Delivery for Bulk Foods: Boxed
- Best Grocery Delivery for Organic Foods: Amazon Fresh
Why you can trust our expert review
Our Reviews Team recommends products and services we believe provide value in the lives of our readers. We’ve spent more than 250 hours carrying out in-depth research on grocery delivery services to give you the most accurate review. To make our selections, we:
- Consulted with industry experts to learn more about grocery delivery services
- Reviewed 12 grocery delivery services
- Surveyed 600 grocery delivery customers to learn about their experiences and preferences
- Mystery shopped 10 grocery delivery services
- Read verified customer reviews from trusted third parties such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Trustpilot
How we chose the best grocery delivery services
Based on independent research and consultations with nutrition experts, our Reviews Team has determined the following factors to be important when shopping for a grocery delivery service:
- Availability of foods appropriate for medical conditions or food allergies
- Ease of ordering
- Accuracy of orders
- Quality of products and packing
- Delivery area and schedule
- Company reputation
- Customer service
We had all of our selections reviewed by an expert in the field to ensure that each service is appropriate for our readers’ needs.
Table 1 Comparison of the best grocery delivery services of 2023
All 50 states
Certain metro areas of the U.S.
Varies by store
$5.95 on orders under $49
$9.99 for orders under $49
$10 for orders under $35
Varies by store
$35 or $50, depending on where you live
Same day delivery available?
All except produce
Alcohol delivery available?
Bulk sizes available?
Best Grocery Delivery Services in 2023
Best Grocery Delivery for SNAP Benefits: Instacart
- Delivery area: All 50 states
- Membership: Optional (Instacart+)
- Fees: $99 per year or $9.99 per month
- Benefits of membership: Free delivery on orders over $35, 5% credit on all Instacart pickup orders, and lower service fees
- Delivery fee: Varies by store
- Delivery schedule: 7 days a week, hours set by individual stores
- Deliveries available in less than an hour from some stores for an additional fee
- Minimum purchase: $10
- Tips accepted: Yes
- SNAP/EBT payments accepted: Yes
Instacart is known for the wide variety of retailers it partners with nationwide. Our Reviews Team likes the many affordably priced grocery stores that accept SNAP/EBT online payments from customers using Instacart’s delivery service, making it our top pick for “Best Grocery Delivery for SNAP Benefits.”
A few of the grocery stores that Instacart delivers from include:
- Price Chopper Supermarket
- Save A Lot
Instacart has an online store locator to help you find stores in your area that accept SNAP/EBT card payments for Instacart grocery deliveries.
What is SNAP?
If you’re new to SNAP, it’s the nation’s largest food assistance program.
SNAP benefits are provided by the federal government for people of all ages who need financial help to pay for groceries. Use NCOA’s Benefits CheckUp tool to learn more about this critical food assistance benefit, how to apply, and how to get help applying from a Benefits Enrollment Center if you need it.
What is EBT?
EBT stands for Electronic Benefits Transfer. An EBT card is a debit card issued to each person who receives SNAP assistance from the government to help pay for groceries.
Keep in mind that SNAP/EBT cards can be used to pay for groceries, seeds and plants that produce food, and food from farmers markets.2 They do not cover pet food, toiletries, delivery fees, service fees, or tips associated with grocery delivery services. For example, if you place a $25 grocery order through Instacart and are charged a $10 delivery fee, you can use your EBT card to pay for the $25 grocery bill, but you’ll need to use a credit card or other form of payment to pay the $10 delivery fee.
How does Instacart work?
Instacart uses personal shoppers to fill your grocery order at your local stores and deliver the order to your home within the time frame you’ve selected.
One thing that’s different about Instacart compared to other grocery delivery services is that product prices, minimum order amounts, delivery fees, and service charges are set by each store, not by Instacart.
This means a $25 order from Aldi might come with a $10 delivery fee, while a $25 order from Safeway may be delivered for free but have a $5 service charge tacked on. Also, products are often priced slightly higher on Instacart than in-store.
The extra fees are worth it for most customers—Instacart was the No. 1 grocery delivery service used by respondents to our Reviews Team’s August 2022 survey of 600 grocery delivery customers, with most of them saying they chose Instacart for its convenience and quick delivery times.
Our mystery shopper also found that Instacart does a good job providing transparent pricing information on its website, so you know exactly what you’re paying with each order.
Keep in mind that you will pay a bit more for the convenience of having your groceries delivered rather than heading to the store yourself to get them. But if you’re concerned about going out in public due to COVID-19 or have limited transportation, grocery delivery can make all the difference.
How to place an Instacart order
Instacart’s website is informative without being overwhelming. It does a great job helping you filter through the large number of Instacart partners.
The Instacart app is as easy to use as the website. We like the fact that both the mobile app and website look very similar, so it’s easy to switch between the two.
This is an important feature for many grocery delivery customers, according to our Reviews Team’s survey. Ease of ordering was the second most important factor in choosing a grocery delivery service, right behind price.
Here’s how to set up a grocery delivery order on Instacart:
1. Enter your delivery address, then click on the shopping category you’re interested in for a list of stores that Instacart partners with in your area (see Figure 1).
Figure 1 Local store listing on Instacart’s website
2. Choose the items you want to buy. When you click on an item, it will appear on a new screen. Select the amount you want, then click “Add to Cart.”
3. When you’re ready to complete your order, click on the cart icon in the upper right corner of the website or app. You can then choose your delivery date and time (see Figure 2).
Figure 2 Scheduling delivery on Instacart’s app
Many stores offer priority delivery within 1–2 hours for an extra fee (which usually averages between $2–$4). The store determines the fee amount. You can also schedule deliveries up to two weeks ahead, although this also varies by store. You can make changes to your Instacart order, reschedule the delivery, or cancel an order until your shopper begins shopping and putting your order together.
You can even shop from several stores at once. Instacart will keep track of your selected products from each store in separate carts until you’re ready to check out. Keep in mind that you can’t combine products from several stores into one order; each store will have its own order and delivery time.
- Website: Online chat
- General service line: 1-888-246-7822, 24/7
- Senior Support Service: 844-981-3433, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET, seven days a week
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Credit card
- Debit card
- EBT card (when ordering from stores that accept SNAP/EBT payments)
Because Instacart provides grocery delivery from such a wide array of stores that take SNAP/EBT payments, it is a great choice for people who receive SNAP benefits and are looking for grocery delivery from local stores.
Cheapest Grocery Delivery Service: Walmart InHome
Delivery area: Certain metro areas of the United States
Membership: Yes (Walmart+ with InHome delivery service added)
- Fees: $19.95 per month or $138 per year ($11.50 per month)
Delivery fee: N/A
- 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, seven days a week
- Same-day delivery available
- One hour delivery available with $10 express fee
- Can schedule deliveries up to one week ahead
Minimum purchase: N/A ($6.99 fee added to orders under $35)
Tips accepted: No
SNAP/EBT payments accepted: Yes
Walmart InHome offers the food and household products you’re used to buying at Walmart at the same prices, making it our top choice for “Cheapest Grocery Delivery Service.”
Walmart InHome delivery associates will even carry your groceries inside and put them away for you if you’d like, with no added fee. This is a benefit no other grocery delivery currently offers.
And while it may not be for everyone, the option to have someone put away your groceries can be a much needed service for people with limited mobility or strength. Walmart also plans to add pharmacy delivery to its InHome service soon.
Walmart InHome is a still-growing service and currently delivers to about 30 million households in and near the following metro areas:
- Los Angeles
- Nashville, Tennessee
- Northwest Arkansas
- Washington, D.C.
Our Reviews Team contacted the Walmart InHome customer service department and were greeted promptly. Although the representative had to search for an answer to our question about current delivery areas, they did find out and inform us that the service is continuing to add new locations around the United States.
If Walmart InHome is not yet available in your area, you can provide your email address to be notified when InHome does come to your city or neighborhood.
How does Walmart InHome work?
Our Reviews Team likes the wide variety of foods available through Walmart InHome. You can get anything that you would buy in-store, including frozen foods and alcohol.
Keep in mind that as we age, our bodies don’t metabolize alcohol as quickly, and some medications can interact with alcohol in the body.3 It’s important to consider ways to fit alcohol into your lifestyle as you age so you can enjoy it without it negatively affecting your health.
Walmart InHome ensures quality control by packing meat in special bags, keeping hot and cold foods separated, and bagging household products—like cleaning chemicals—in their own containers to prevent contamination. Walmart personal shoppers are trained in food safety practices, proper bagging techniques, and cleanliness.
If you want groceries to be brought in and put away while you’re out, Walmart InHome will install a smart device for $49.95 that gives associates access to your home on delivery days. If you have a keypad entry on your garage door or another door into the house, you can share the unlock code with Walmart InHome for the delivery associate to use.
On the mobile app or website, you will be asked where you want your groceries to be delivered (see Figure 3). A member of our Reviews Team called customer service to find out if there was an option to have the order left outside their home, and the representative said you can specify that preference on the website.
Figure 3 Walmart InHome delivery access
Placing a Walmart InHome order
Using the Walmart InHome website and mobile app to order groceries is quick and easy.
- Scroll through the products offered in each department, or browse the entire selection. When you see a product you want to order, click the “Add” button below the item.
- When you’re ready to check out, click on the cart icon in the upper right corner of the website or app.
- Click on “Continue to checkout” and you’ll be asked to choose a delivery date and time. You can place a grocery order up to six days in advance.
Walmart InHome makes it easy to reorder items from past orders or create grocery lists that you can choose from every time you shop (see Figure 4). This can save you even more time when placing your grocery order. You can also schedule auto-ship orders to be delivered on the same day each week.
Figure 4 Using a saved grocery list on the Walmart InHome website
Walmart accepts SNAP/EBT payments, which is a benefit many older adults can take advantage of to help stretch their food dollars. Just use your EBT card to pay for any foods covered by SNAP when you check out on Walmart’s website.
You’ll need to provide a phone number so Walmart can contact you while filling and delivering your order. You can also choose whether you want to receive text updates about your order, any substitutions, and the delivery status if you’re not at home when your groceries arrive.
Walmart InHome will provide substitutions for up to four items if your original choice is unavailable. Your shopper will send you an email with a suggested substitution and give you a time limit to accept or reject the substitution. If you don’t respond, they will make the substitution.
How to edit or cancel your Walmart InHome order
You can cancel or make changes to an InHome order while it’s being processed as long as you can still see the “Edit” or “Cancellation” option next to the order in your “Past Orders” tab on the website.
Our Reviews Team called Walmart to find out what to do if it’s too late to make changes or cancel an order. The representative said we could return any items we didn’t need after they were delivered. With the added benefit of returns pickup offered with the InHome service, you can schedule returns without needing to leave your home.
- Website: Online chat
- Email: email@example.com
- Credit card
- Debit card
- EBT card
- Walmart gift card
If you want to stretch your food budget (and who doesn’t?) while getting affordable groceries without a trip to the grocery store, Walmart InHome is worth considering.
The membership fee will cost you $11.50–$19.95 per month, but you may end up saving that much or more by not driving to and from the store, and by taking advantage of Walmart’s low grocery prices.
Best Grocery Delivery for Special Diets: Thrive Market
Delivery area: 48 states (not Alaska or Hawaii)
Delivery fee: $5.95 on orders under $49
- Orders are shipped within 24 hours, seven days a week
Minimum purchase: N/A
Tips accepted: No
SNAP/EBT payments accepted: No
Thrive Market caters to people with special dietary needs and specific taste preferences, making them our pick for “Best Grocery Delivery for Special Diets.” You can filter your grocery search by the following dietary needs:
- Gluten free
- Anti-inflammatory diet
- Low FODMAP diet (a diet low in certain sugars that may cause intestinal distress)
How does Thrive Market work?
Thrive Market focuses on providing healthy products that are sustainably produced and affordably priced. The company claims to offer warehouse prices on specialty items, and judging from what our Reviews Team found on the website, we agree. For example, a 14-ounce jar of Artisana organic coconut butter was priced at $8.54 on Thrive Market, compared to the same product sold by Amazon Fresh for $12.99 and Walmart InHome for $20.99.
In contrast to many other grocery delivery services, Thrive Market carries everything except fresh produce. It also offers only a limited amount of frozen foods with a $65 minimum on frozen food orders.
Placing a Thrive Market order
The Thrive Market website and app give you several ways to shop for groceries. You can search by food category, diet type, or product brand. You can also save shopping lists of your favorite products (see Figure 5).
Figure 5 Thrive Market shopping categories
After clicking on the category, brand, or diet you’re looking for, follow these steps to place an order:
- Scroll through the products and click on an item’s picture to read details about that product. Click the “Add” button below any item you want to purchase. Thrive Market also offers an autoship option with a discount for products that you regularly order. Just click “Autoship” below the “Add” button to set up automatic shipments for that item.
- After selecting everything you need, click on your cart in the upper right corner to begin the checkout process.
- You will be asked to choose a free gift with each order. Our Reviews Team found this to be a great way to try new products at no charge.
- Click on the “Checkout” button to enter your payment information and delivery address.
- Website: Online chat or email request form
- Phone: 1-866-419-2174
- 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT, Monday through Friday
- 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT, Saturday
- Credit card
- Debit card
While Thrive market does not currently accept SNAP/EBT cards, the company is waiting for USDA approval so they can take these payments. In the meantime, Thrive Market provides a free one-year membership for the following customers:
- First responders
- Low-income families in need
If you have special dietary needs and want to have your groceries delivered without paying high prices, Thrive Market is worth looking into.
You could also consider using this company for everything but produce, and ordering fruits and vegetables from a different grocery delivery service or buying them at a local store or farmers market. The National Farmers Market Directory can help you find a market in your area.
Best Grocery Delivery for Bulk Foods: Boxed
Delivery area: 48 states (not Alaska or Hawaii)
Membership: Optional (BoxedUp)
- Fees: $49 per year
- Benefits of membership: Free shipping on orders over $19.98, 2% credit on all orders
- $9.99 for orders under $49 without BoxedUp membership
- $9.99 for orders under $19.98 with BoxedUp membership
Delivery schedule: Orders are shipped in 1–3 days
Minimum purchase: $19.98
Tips accepted: Yes
SNAP/EBT payments accepted: No
Boxed specializes in delivering bulk groceries to your home. This can be a cost-saving measure, as bulk sizes are often cheaper per unit than smaller sizes. Because of the company’s speciality in both grocery delivery and affordable pricing on bulk items, we named Boxed the “Best Grocery Delivery for Bulk Foods.”
How does Boxed work?
Boxed has a simple, straightforward setup. It’s basically like shopping from Costco or Sam’s Club’s websites, but with two important exceptions. First, Boxed focuses on bulk deliveries of only groceries and household items. It doesn’t include other services or products that come with some other warehouse club memberships.
Second, Boxed offers an AutoSave subscription to deliver grocery and household staples on a set schedule. It’s free to sign up and gives you 5% off all orders.
Placing a Boxed order
Using the Boxed website or mobile app is an easy process.
- Enter your delivery address and then start shopping. Both the website and app display groceries by category to make it easier to find what you need (see Figure 6). Click on any items you want to purchase and add them to your cart with the “Add” button.
- When you’re ready to check out, click on the cart icon in the upper right corner.
- Go to the bottom and click “Checkout.”
- On the next screen, enter payment information and click on “Place Your Order.”
Figure 6 Using the Boxed app to shop for groceries
Boxed also provides coupons, saved favorites from your past orders, and free samples to choose from with each order (see Figure 7).
Figure 7 Free samples offered with Boxed grocery orders
Unlike most grocery delivery services, Boxed doesn’t offer you an option for scheduling your grocery delivery time.
Boxed does offer a dedicated service called Express for fresh produce, frozen foods, dairy, and deli items. When you order these products through Boxed, they’re selected by personal shoppers at local stores to allow faster delivery.
- Website: Online contact form
- Credit card
- Debit card
- Google Pay
For people who like buying groceries in bulk to have plenty on-hand or to save money and cut down on the frequency of grocery store trips (or online orders), Boxed is a great option.
Best Grocery Delivery for Organic Foods: Amazon Fresh
Delivery area: 48 states (not Alaska or Hawaii)
Membership required: Yes (Amazon Prime)
- Standard Prime membership: $14.99 per month or $139 per year
- Prime for SNAP/EBT and Medicaid recipients: $6.99 per month
Delivery fee: $10 for orders under $35
Delivery schedule: 1–2 hours
Minimum purchase: $35 or $50, depending on location
Tips accepted: Yes
SNAP/EBT payments accepted: Yes
If you’re looking for a reliable source of organic foods brought to your door, Amazon Fresh is the place to shop. With more than 8,000 organic products to choose from, Amazon Fresh is our clear winner for “Best Grocery Delivery for Organic Foods.”
Because the company accepts SNAP/EBT payments in all states except Alaska, Amazon Fresh brings organic food within reach for many people who might not be able to afford it otherwise.
How does Amazon Fresh work?
Amazon requires a Prime membership to use the Amazon Fresh grocery delivery service, but it offers a reduced price membership for recipients of SNAP and Medicaid benefits. If you have a SNAP/EBT card or are enrolled in Medicaid, you can get an Amazon Prime membership for $6.99 per month. That’s less than half the cost of a standard membership, which is $14.99 per month.
Another benefit our Reviews Team liked is that some food items are 15% off for SNAP/EBT card holders. You can also order groceries online through Whole Foods Market on the Amazon website using your SNAP/EBT card. Because Whole Foods Market carries a wide selection of organic foods as well, shopping for organic groceries on Amazon is like getting two online grocery stores in one.
Another nice feature of Amazon Fresh is that it accepts payment with P-EBT cards.4 P-EBT stands for Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer and refers to government-issued financial assistance for qualified households with children that were impacted by school and daycare closings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With so many ways to pay for organic groceries from Amazon Fresh, you can stretch your food dollars and include more organic foods and fresh produce in your diet.
If you’re unsure which foods are the most important to purchase in organic varieties (because they’re often more expensive than non-organic foods), take a look at the Environmental Working Group.5 Its website lists the Clean Fifteen and the Dirty Dozen, results of USDA lab tests that show which foods contain the highest and lowest levels of pesticides even after washing and peeling. These lists can help you make informed choices about which organic foods are worth the cost.
Placing an Amazon Fresh order
If you’re familiar with Amazon’s main website or mobile app, ordering from Amazon Fresh will be easy. To get started, type “Amazon Fresh” in the search bar of the Amazon website. You’ll see the Amazon Fresh page with grocery categories, coupons, deals, and current featured products.
To use your SNAP/EBT card when paying for purchases, follow these steps.
- First, you’ll need to add your EBT card to your Amazon Fresh account. From the main Amazon Fresh webpage, click on the word “fresh” in the upper left corner (see Figure 8).
- A box with several choices will appear just underneath. Click on “Shop SNAP EBT.”
- The website will provide instructions for adding your SNAP/EBT card to Amazon and shopping for groceries with your card.
Figure 8 Using SNAP/EBT on the Amazon Fresh website
From there, it’s easy to shop for organic foods with or without a SNAP/EBT card by typing “organic” in the Amazon search bar at the top of the screen. You can also search for certain categories of organic foods, such as fruit or dairy products.
Some items are 15% off for EBT cardholders, so even if you think organic varieties might be above your budget, it’s worth checking the price on Amazon Fresh.
Amazon Fresh also offers recipes you can filter based on preparation time, ingredients, and type of diet (see Figure 9). If you see a recipe you want to try, click on it for the list of ingredients. You can order anything you need from the recipe page.
Figure 9 Amazon Fresh recipes
- Website: Online help center
- Phone: Enter your phone number on Amazon’s customer support page and they will call you back
- Credit card
- Debit card
- SNAP/EBT card
- P-EBT card
- Amazon gift card
For people who want to get some or all of their nutrition from organic foods and are interested in having them delivered, Amazon Fresh is the online place to shop. The selection of organic groceries is enormous, and Amazon’s website is fun to order from. It’s full of information, but well-organized to keep you from feeling overwhelmed. If you want to use a SNAP/EBT card for organic groceries, Amazon Fresh also makes that easy with step-by-step instructions.
Other top grocery delivery services to consider
While our Reviews Team recommends each of the grocery delivery services above for older adults, many other services have a reputation for quality products and good customer service as well. Here are several others you may want to look into:
Farmbox Direct — Good for Farm Fresh Vegetable and Fruit Delivery
Farmbox Direct isn’t a full service grocery with all of the foods and non-food products you’d find at a typical grocery store. But it does provide regular deliveries of fresh produce and offers organic choices as well.
This can be great if you don’t live near a store or farmers market that carries a good selection of fruits and vegetables. You could also buy the rest of your groceries at the store and get seasonal produce from a delivery service.
While Farmbox Direct doesn’t accept SNAP/EBT payments, a subset of the company called FarmboxRx does take them. You can even use money from your Medicare Advantage or Medicaid OTC card to pay for your groceries through FarmboxRx.
The company’s philosophy centers on using food as medicine, providing quality produce and meal kits, as well as access to nutrition experts if you have questions about your diet.
Features of Farmbox Direct:
- Membership-based (with no fee)
- Prices start at $40.98 for a small box
- $5.98 handling and packing fee
- Fresh produce delivered weekly, with the option of biweekly or monthly deliveries
- Organic options available
- FarmboxRx accepts SNAP/EBT, Medicaid benefits, and Medicare Advantage OTC card payments
Hungry Harvest — Good for Local Vegetable and Fruit Delivery
If you live on the east coast or in the Detroit area, Hungry Harvest may be a good grocery delivery option for you. While its service area is more limited than most grocery delivery services, it accepts SNAP/EBT card payments and focuses on providing produce and other perishable groceries that would otherwise go to waste.
Features of Hungry Harvest:
- Subscription-based (sign up for weekly or biweekly deliveries)
- Accepts SNAP/EBT
- Prices start at $15 for a 2–3 person Harvest Box
- Delivery fee: $4.99 on orders under $29.99
- Locally sourced fresh produce and other plant-based foods
- Organic options available in some areas
- May cancel at any time
Schwan’s Home Delivery — Good for Frozen Food and Meal Delivery
Family-owned Schwan’s Home Delivery is a well-known name in the grocery business. This company began with local ice cream deliveries to rural Minnesotans in 1952, and now Schwan’s provides grocery service to all states in the contiguous United States.
Schwan’s sells far more than ice cream today; you can order every type of frozen food, along with premade meals that are ready to heat in the oven or microwave.
Features of Schwan’s Home Delivery:
- No membership required
- Accepts SNAP/EBT when paying in-person at the time of delivery
- Delivery fee: $3.99 on orders under $59.99 (delivery fees vary for purchases in Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming)
- Frozen groceries and prepared meals
- Selections available for dietary needs (low calorie, no sugar added, heart healthy, and no gluten ingredients)
Hungryroot — Good for Meal Kits and Specialized Diets
Hungryroot operates like a hybrid of a grocery delivery and a meal delivery service. While it doesn’t have a traditional membership program like Walmart InHome, Hungryroot charges you by the week when your grocery and meal order is processed.
The cheapest grocery delivery Hungryroot offers costs $68.55 per week and includes a combination of two lunch meal kits (each serving two people) and four dinner kits (each serving two people).
In this sense, it is structured like a meal delivery service. But while meal deliveries don’t typically offer groceries, Hungryroot does. You can buy a range of whole foods, fresh produce, meats, dairy, and non-perishable items to fill your pantry and fridge.
Features of Hungryroot:
- Does not accept SNAP/EBT
- Delivery fee: $6.99 for orders under $70
- Organic groceries, plant-based options, and meal kits
- Selections available for dietary needs (egg free, nut free, shellfish free, pescatarian, vegan, and vegetarian)
Hungryroot also offers meal kits and other pre-prepared foods. Whitney Stuart, a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified diabetes educator, says meal kits can be an economical way for older adults to boost the nutritional value of their diet. “The benefit of cooking meal kits [is that they give you] kitchen experience with more readily available nutrients. The biggest benefit of meal delivery kits would be easier access to a meal that is nutritionally balanced compared to fast foods,” says Stuart.
Don’t forget to check with your local grocery store to see if they offer delivery to your address. While not all local stores accept SNAP/EBT payments for online orders, many of the larger chains do.
What is a grocery delivery service and how does it work?
Grocery delivery services offer a way to get the groceries you need without having to travel to the store to pick them up yourself. While some services such as Hungryroot choose items for you based on your preferences, most allow you to choose each item yourself, paying online before your order arrives. Even the companies that preselect your groceries allow you to make changes before your order is shipped.
After your order is placed, personal shoppers walk through the store or warehouse with a cart and pick up everything you’ve ordered. Then they bag it all up and drive it to your house.
While some services charge a delivery fee per order, others will waive the fee if you place an order over a certain dollar amount (often $35–$50), and still other services charge a monthly or yearly membership fee to cover delivery costs.
If you’re looking for companies that deliver meal kits and pre-made meals, check out our review of the best meal delivery services.
Grocery Delivery Services: Pros and Cons
While each grocery delivery service is unique, there are also features common to most services to help you decide which one best meets your needs.
More people sign up for grocery delivery to save time shopping than for any other reason, according to our August 2022 survey. Delivery services can indeed save you hours each week by doing the grocery shopping, driving, and even grocery unpacking for you.
In the testing process, our Reviews Team noted that deliveries are especially helpful for heavy items like pet food and canned goods.
Access to groceries without leaving your home
Whether due to COVID-19 precautions, difficulties driving or using public transportation, or health issues, many people find it hard to get to the grocery store.
Of our survey respondents, 50% said that they began having their groceries delivered because they wanted to avoid public places. This is one of the biggest benefits of using a grocery delivery service.
Ability to get products that you don’t have easy access to
By entering your ZIP code or address on a grocery delivery’s website, you can find out which companies provide service to your area. You may discover some services that deliver hard-to-find products not carried by your local grocery stores.
Our Reviews Team was happy to see the variety of specialty products offered by grocery delivery services we tested.
May be more expensive than in-person shopping
Some grocery delivery services charge higher prices for items than what you would pay in the store. A good example of this is Instacart, which allows individual stores to set their own prices. Many of them mark up the price of items bought through Instacart, in addition to charging delivery and/or service fees.
But keep in mind that you can actually save money with grocery delivery if you use digital coupons, buy items when they’re on sale, and take advantage of membership plans that come with free shipping (such as the Walmart InHome membership).
Possibility of poor substitutions
Although you choose each item in your grocery order, substitutions are made when products are out of stock. Most services allow you to prevent substitutions for specific items, and all of them will call, text, or email you before making a substitution. Still, grocery delivery customers have complained about personal shoppers making poor substitutions in their orders.
Lack of control over selection
The personal shopper filling your order may not be as careful in selecting foods as you would be in picking out your own groceries. This can make a difference when it comes to fresh produce, meat, seafood, and baked goods.
Our Reviews Team experienced several instances of foods in our orders going bad in just a day or two. This may not have happened if we had picked them out and had the choice of choosing an item with a later expiration date, for example.
This is one of the biggest trade-offs of grocery delivery services. What you gain in convenience, you give up in control over grocery selection.
How to choose the best grocery delivery service for you
Consider the following factors when deciding which grocery delivery service best meets your needs:
If you live in or near a city, chances are you’ll have quite a few grocery delivery services to choose from. Rural folks will have fewer options, though.
Before you can place an order on a grocery delivery service’s website, it will ask for your address or zip code to determine whether you’re in the delivery area. If you can’t get delivery to your home right now, keep checking back as most services are frequently expanding their delivery areas.
Some grocery delivery services (such as Instacart) offer 24-hour delivery, while others have set delivery windows during the day. Most offer evening delivery times up until about 8 p.m.
Certain services are known for same-day (or even same-hour) deliveries, while others like Hungryroot and FarmboxRx only deliver once or twice a week. Some grocery deliveries also allow you to set up automatic shipments of items you regularly buy, or schedule an order days or weeks in advance.
Delivery and membership fees
The frequency with which you use a grocery delivery can make a difference in how important the delivery fees are. If you plan on having groceries delivered once a month or fewer, choosing a service with a low delivery fee is a good idea.
But if you like to order groceries weekly, a membership can save you money on delivery fees over time. For example, Walmart InHome, our pick for “Cheapest Grocery Delivery Service,” offers a membership of $11.50 per month when you pay annually. This comes out to $2.88 per week. If you view that as your delivery fee, you’re probably paying less for delivery than you would spend on gas driving to the store.
Minimum order amounts
Many services charge for delivery if your order is under a certain amount, but then provide free delivery if it’s over that amount. Whole Foods is a good example—you’ll pay a $5 delivery fee for orders under $35, but there’s no fee if your order is over $35.
It’s easy to get free delivery if you add a few non-perishable items to your order, such as dry beans, rice, or canned vegetables. These foods will keep for months in your pantry.
Cost of groceries
Some grocery delivery services offer products at the same price you’ll find in stores, but others don’t. Instacart, for example, allows its partner stores to set their own prices for product delivery.
This means that you may pay $3.50 for a gallon of milk at your local grocery store, but it could cost $4.00 when you have it delivered by InstaCart. These price differences can add up depending on how many groceries you include in one order, so they’re worth monitoring.
It’s important to know whether you can order everything you need from one grocery delivery service, or whether you’ll need to order some products from a different service or pick them up in-store.
For example, does the grocery delivery service offer only non-perishable foods like dry goods and paper products, or do they also provide the option of ordering frozen foods and fresh produce? Are meats and dairy offered as well?
Acceptance of SNAP/EBT
Some grocery delivery services accept SNAP/EBT payments, while others don’t. The USDA has a helpful SNAP online locator where you can check the stores in your state that are currently accepting SNAP/EBT payments for online purchases.
If you don’t live in an area where you can get grocery delivery from a service that accepts SNAP benefits, check with your local grocery store to see if they provide delivery services. You may be able to order groceries directly from the store, pay with your SNAP/EBT card, and have them delivered.
Before you decide on which grocery delivery service to use, it can be helpful to know what other customers have experienced. What do people say about the company’s customer service? How does the company handle incorrect orders or refunds? You can read reviews on websites such as Better Business Bureau (BBB) and TrustPilot, but also talk to friends who have used the same service you’re interested in to see what their experience has been. Your online social circle can be a great place to start.
Customer service hours are also important. If you have a problem that can’t wait for a response through the website, will you be able to reach a person to help you resolve the issue? Check to see what the company’s customer service hours are to make sure you can speak to a person when you need.
How much do grocery delivery services cost?
The delivery fees for grocery delivery services range from free to up to $10 for orders under a minimum amount. Services that offer free delivery roll that cost into their membership fees or will waive the fee if you place an order above a certain dollar amount, often $35–$50.
A few grocery delivery services also charge service fees, but most do not.
How to save money on grocery delivery services
With a little knowledge and experience using grocery delivery websites, you’ll learn the many ways to save money with these services.
Use SNAP/EBT and OTC cards
Not all grocery delivery services accept SNAP/EBT payments, but many of them do. The following companies currently take EBT cards for grocery delivery:
- Amazon Fresh
- Hungry Harvest
- Walmart InHome
Keep in mind that SNAP/EBT cards can only be used to pay for foods or seeds and plants that produce food; they will not cover delivery fees, service charges, or tips. Most ready-to-eat foods are also not eligible for SNAP benefits. Still, using your SNAP/EBT card for groceries can shrink your food bill enough that you’re able to fit grocery delivery into your budget.
FarmboxRx also accepts OTC card payments, which are over-the-counter debit cards that some Medicaid and Medicare Advantage plans deposit money into every month. Check with your case manager (for Medicaid) or insurance provider (for Medicare Advantage) to see if your plan includes OTC card benefits.
If you do have an OTC card, you can use the money deposited in it by your insurance each month to cover the cost of fresh produce delivered from FarmboxRx. While this service only provides fresh produce (not other groceries like frozen foods or non-perishable items), it’s a good way to include fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet at no cost. And they come right to your home, so you don’t have to go to the local farmers market or grocery store to pick them up.
Look for sales and discounted products
The majority of grocery delivery websites and mobile apps highlight current deals and coupons on their shopping pages. Some services, like Instacart, make it easy—coupons appear right below the item listings, and by clicking on the coupon you can save money on that item when you check out (see Figure 10).
Figure 10 Instacart shopping page with coupon
Order in bulk
Buying larger sizes can drive down the unit price of your groceries. This is why warehouse delivery services like Boxed are popular—while you’ll pay more up front, you’ll save money in the long run by paying less per unit, and you won’t have to shop as often.
Just keep in mind how much of a certain product you can use before it expires. While paper goods will last years, all foods (even frozen foods, canned goods, and dry goods) have a shelf life.
Set up auto ship
We found that some grocery delivery services offer auto shipping, which means that you select certain groceries to be delivered on a set schedule without having to place a new order each time.
Boxed offers this option, called AutoSave. By choosing AutoSave you’ll also get 5% off all of your Boxed orders.
Consider a membership
If you routinely use a grocery delivery service, investing in a yearly membership is cheaper than paying the membership fee each month. It can also be cheaper than paying for the gas needed for a weekly trip to the grocery store.
For instance, a Walmart InHome Grocery membership costs $138 per year. That’s equal to $11.50 per month, compared to the monthly membership price of $19.95 per month.
The yearly membership cost means that you’re paying less than $4 per week for grocery delivery, which is less than most people would pay in gas to drive to the store.
Ask for gift cards
Sometimes it’s hard to know what type of gift a loved one will enjoy and be able to use the most. If you’ve heard this before from your family or friends, you could share a gift idea that most people love: a gift card for a grocery or meal delivery service.
Gift cards for several of the widely available delivery services in this review are easy to find. Walmart, Amazon, and Whole Foods gift cards are available at just about every large grocery store in the gift cards section. They don’t expire and can be used whenever you need to restock your kitchen.
Some services, such as Shipt, also offer gift memberships on their website. These are especially nice, as they provide you with free shipping for an entire year in most cases.
With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the way many of us live and the price of groceries rising over the past year, many people are having trouble affording healthy foods. If you find yourself in this situation, visit USDA’s online map to find nutrition assistance programs in your state.
Who can benefit from a grocery delivery service?
All sorts of people find grocery delivery services to be a nice, and even necessary, convenience.
Older adults aging in place
Older adults who are aging in place can benefit from the added safety of having someone else shop, check out, and carry heavy bags into the house for them. This is particularly nice when it’s rainy, cold, or icy outside, as well as for people who are at risk of falling or may otherwise find it unsafe to go to the grocery store by themselves.
People with dietary restrictions
People with dietary restrictions who don’t live close enough to a store with the food options they need can also find value in using a grocery delivery service.
For instance, you may need gluten-free foods or non-dairy milks that aren’t available at your local grocery store, but certain grocery delivery services that specialize in healthy food can get those products to your door so you can get the nutrition that’s best suited to your needs. Hungryroot and Thrive Market are two grocery delivery options for customers with special dietary needs.
If you’re taking care of grandchildren or aging parents in your home, you may really benefit from the time savings of using a grocery delivery service. Not having to make a trip to the grocery store each week can give you back extra hours to spend with your loved ones, or save you the worry of finding someone to stay with them while you’re out. And with the tips above for taking advantage of cost-cutting measures, you can save money as well as time.
Grocery Delivery Services: Bottom Line
A grocery delivery service can save time, energy, and even money on your groceries. The number of companies that provide this service is expanding all the time, giving customers more opportunities to find the grocery delivery service that’s right for them.
Our Reviews Team likes the variety, low prices, and SNAP/EBT options associated with Instacart, Walmart InHome, and Amazon Fresh. For people on special diets, though, Hungryroot could be a good choice.
Frequently asked questions
Have questions about this review? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- USDA Food and Nutrition Service. SNAP. Found on the internet at https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program/
- USDA Food and Nutrition Service. Eligible Food Items. Found on the internet at https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/eligible-food-items/
- National Institute on Aging. Facts About Alcohol and Aging. Found on the internet at https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/facts-about-aging-and-alcohol
- USDA Food and Nutrition Service. State Guidance on Coronavirus P-EBT. Found on the internet at https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/state-guidance-coronavirus-pandemic-ebt-pebt
- Environmental Working Group. EWG’s 2022 Dirty Dozen List. Found on the internet at https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/