We Tested 5 Grocery Delivery Services; Here’s What We Found

published May 25, 2017
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There are so many grocery delivery services available now, which makes it almost impossible to choose—especially if you’re totally new to them. I am for sure a procrastinator when it comes to physically going to the store, but I’m also big into planning my meals in advance, so switching to a delivery service seemed ideal to me. Since I didn’t have much experience ordering from grocery delivery services, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to let the major competitors battle it out to be my Number One. And as it turns out, while having your groceries delivered is super convenient, it’s also really important to find a service (or services) that works best for you.

A few things to note: I live in Brooklyn, and tested all of these services out by ordering delivery to my apartment. While testing each service, I made sure to keep my orders in the $50-$65 range so that they’d all be around the same size, and tried to schedule deliveries for around the same times as the other similar services.

Technically I’ve been using FreshDirect for years, because it’s a staple in pretty much every office I’ve ever worked in (and at one job, I used to do all the ordering—so I’m super familiar with it). Using it on a personal level at home was new to me, but since I was already aware of it and how it worked, it was the first delivery service I used. As always, I was able to find most of what I needed—it was super easy to search. The delivery fee was not bad and honestly worth it to save me trips to the grocery store. Plus, FreshDirect often offers promos for discounts and free delivery, so I was able to take advantage of some of those. With FreshDirect, you order at least a day in advance (you can order as late as 11pm the night before, but you can’t order a home delivery for the same day), so it’s more of a replacement for planned grocery shopping—not great for last minute needs.

Cost: There’s a $6.99 delivery fee per order, plus tip.

Delivery Time: I ordered my items in the afternoon for the next day, and they arrived within the scheduled window the following morning.

Pros: Good selection of items overall, nutritional and allergen information is readily available, and there’s a great selection of prepared foods.

Cons: Some food items are pricey, and the delivery fee could be better but still worth it. Also, if you have dietary restrictions like I do, you might find the selection a little lacking at times.

Overall Score: 7.5/10

Foodkick is actually a pretty new offering from FreshDirect, but it has its own site and app. Rather than ordering food in advance to be delivered on another day, Foodkick was created for same day—even ASAP—delivery. It’s got a lot of the great items—including quite a selection of prepared foods—that FreshDirect has to offer at the same prices, but instead of planning ahead, you can order food, alcohol and other household items and have it delivered within a few hours. The main difference aside from that is that Foodkick has a much smaller selection of items, so it’s sometimes a challenge to find what you need or want. I found out about Foodkick through a promotion from Fresh Direct, tried it out, and was happy with it overall. My groceries arrived within 2 hours and it actually stopped me from ordering takeout, instead opting for ingredients to cook a few meals. And the delivery fee is definitely not bad.

Cost: There’s a $3.99 delivery fee per order, plus tip.

Delivery Time: I put in my order at 6pm on a Saturday night and I was cooking by 8pm, so I was pretty impressed.

Pros: Great prepared foods, readily available nutritional and allergen info (you can even sort by your dietary needs!), the totally worth-it delivery fee, and super fast delivery.

Cons: Much smaller selection of items, and sometimes delivery slots sell out and you can’t get food as quickly (or even on the same day at times) as you want to.

Overall Score: 8/10

Peapod is Stop & Shop’s delivery service, so I already knew I could expect low prices and great sales in terms of ordering items. What I didn’t expect when I tried it was how great the selection is, even online. I was worried that a lot of the foods that I would normally easily find on Stop & Shop’s shelves would be unavailable, but was pleasantly surprised to find that everything I needed was there. It was easy to browse around and find everything and there were plenty of sales going on to take advantage of. Two things that can be a bit of a challenge: first, there’s a $60 delivery minimum, which can be hard to meet sometimes if you’re not in need of a ton of groceries; and second, sometimes if you don’t order early enough, you might miss out on all of the available delivery windows for the next day and have to order for the following day—just be sure to plan ahead.

Cost: There’s a $9.99 delivery fee per order, but if you order for certain delivery windows, you can often knock a few dollars off.

Delivery Time: I ordered my items the afternoon before, and had them delivered before I left for work—they came right on time during the delivery window.

Pros: Awesome selection of food and household items, great prepared foods, low item prices, readily available nutritional information, replacement options, and on-time delivery.

Cons: The delivery fee isn’t my favorite. Also, if you order later in the day, sometimes delivery windows for the next day are all sold out.

Overall Score: 8.5/10

I know a lot of people who love Instacart, but honestly, I was not a fan. I see the usefulness—much like Foodkick, you can get groceries delivered same-day and pretty quickly at that—but the process was actually stressful for me (I think it’s more of a personal problem than a problem with the service, but I’ll just explain and let you be the judge). Instacart, if you’re unfamiliar, lets you put in your order from a grocery store near you, and then a personal shopper goes to the store and buys the items for you, and then they’re delivered to your door. What made it stressful for me was that my grocery store was out of stock of about half of the items I ordered, and because of my food allergies, I couldn’t accept a lot of the replacements my shopper suggested, which meant I watched my grocery list dwindle before my eyes via the app, and ultimately wound up with an order that was missing a lot of the items I needed, so I had to go out to another store anyway. I’m also not a fan of the delivery fees (but more on that in a sec). On the bright side, my groceries arrived super quickly, so I was still impressed in that respect.

Cost: The delivery fee depends on the size of your order—since it was my first order, I got free delivery so I only paid a tip, but for my order the fee would’ve been $7.99, and I didn’t even end up getting that much stuff in the end. To avoid the delivery fees, you can become an Instacart Express member for $149 per year ($99 for your first year).

Delivery Time: My order arrived less than 2 hours from when I placed it, so it was definitely fast.

Pros: There were several options for stores to order from—though that depends on where you live—and the delivery was quick.

Cons: A lot of the items I ordered were out of stock and couldn’t be replaced, the experience was stressful for me, and the delivery fee wasn’t my favorite thing.

Overall Score: 5/10

Amazon Fresh is an add-on option for Amazon Prime, so, like most Amazon features, it’s super convenient. But, that also means you have to be an Amazon Prime member (which costs $99 per year) and then pay an additional monthly fee for the Amazon Fresh service, which I am not a fan of, personally. I think it might work well for someone who orders groceries more frequently than I do—I’m more of a once every week or two person, since I’m only cooking for one and I plan and prep a lot of my meals in advance. Searching for items was easy, most of what I wanted was in stock, and overall it was a quick and simple ordering experience—my main issue with the delivery was that some of my items got a little damaged in the process. Some of my frozen veggie bags ripped, so I had to pick up shards of broccoli while I unpacked, but it wasn’t that big of a deal overall.

Cost: $14.99 per month, on top of the annual $99 Prime membership fee. Not ideal unless you’re ordering a lot of groceries frequently, in my opinion.

Delivery Time: I placed my order on a Friday morning for the next day, they came within the scheduled window.

Pros: Plentiful food options, decent prices, on-time delivery.

Cons: Some of my food was damaged during the delivery, plus the cost—at least for me.

Overall Score: 6/10

And the winner is…

Peapod! While the delivery fee isn’t exactly my favorite thing about it, the selection of foods and other items—and the item prices—honestly just can’t be beat. I love Fresh Direct, but Peapod just has more of the food items I like and the prices and sales are often better, otherwise it’s a pretty close call. Peapod has become my go-to delivery service for when I’m doing a full restock of groceries and planning ahead.

Runner up: Foodkick, for those times when I want or need something last-minute—the selection is smaller but still has most of the things I need, and delivery has consistently been super quick.

Which grocery delivery services have you tried and which is your favorite?