Grocery delivery services for your budget in 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic may have introduced a lot of people to grocery delivery services, but is it still worth it? After all, inflation has made everything more expensive. Maybe it would be better to just hoof it to the store yourself and save on the delivery fees?

Maybe, though there are a lot of good arguments for sticking with grocery delivery services, according to Andrea Woroch, a U.S. News contributor and personal finance and shopping consultant who writes about saving money at AndreaWoroch.com.

“Online grocery shopping may come with some fees such as increased prices on certain foods and delivery fees, but there’s a big savings opportunity that can help a lot of people and families stretch their food shopping budget and limit impulse purchases,” Woroch says. “Shopping online for groceries makes it easy to stick to your list.”

She also adds that impulse shopping is easier to avoid online than in the store, where the tempting food displays and scents can cause you to buy groceries you didn’t intend to and probably don’t need.

“So even though you may save a few bucks on delivery, you’re ultimately spending more because you’re buying more,” Woroch says of the potential downsides of shopping in person. She also suggests looking for coupons at sites like CouponFollow.com to save on delivery fees and on online grocery orders in general.

[READ:10 Best Budget Apps for 2022]

If you’re wondering what apps and services would be the best fit for you, here are eight top grocery delivery services:

— Instacart.

— Amazon Fresh.

— Amazon Now.

— Walmart+.

— Shipt.

— Hungryroot.

— Imperfect Foods.

Instacart

Membership Cost: $99 annually or $9.99 a month

Delivery Fee: Varies (see below), but possibly no fee if you’re a member.

This popular grocery app, available throughout much of the United States and Canada, delivers from numerous grocery stores as well as liquor stores and pharmacies and even some bulk warehouses like Costco and BJ’s Wholesale Club.

If you become a member, you’ll pay no delivery fees on orders $35 and over. There’s also no additional charge if you order groceries from several stores, so you can potentially knock out several errands with one order.

You don’t have to become a member, but deliveries $35 and over carry a delivery charge of $3.99, and if your order is less than $35, fees will vary. Orders have to be at least $10, in order for them to deliver to you. If you aren’t a member, you may have other fees to contend with, like a service fee, alcohol service fee or heavy order fee.

It’s definitely a convenience, but Instacart does mark up its prices. Still, if you value your time more than your money, this service may be worth it. Plus, you will see all the fees before you actually pay for everything, and so if you decide to not do it, you’ve wasted some time, but you also have a pretty shopping list you could take to the store.

Amazon Fresh

Membership Cost: $139 for an annual Prime membership

Delivery Fee: See below, but possibly no fees if you’re a member.

If you have an Amazon Prime membership, you can order Amazon Fresh for free (as long as your order totals $35 or more, or $50 or more, depending on where you live). You can get one- or two-hour delivery, but there will be fees for that, regardless of how much you buy. Delivery fees vary, but you’ll see what they are before you place your order.

Just a heads up for college students: According to its website, Amazon Fresh doesn’t deliver to dorms.

Amazon Prime Now

Membership Cost: $139 for an annual Prime membership

Delivery Fee: See below, but possibly no fees if you’re a member.

This is a same-day delivery service for Amazon Prime members (a membership is $14.99 a month or $139 a year, plus taxes). You can get groceries delivered the same day, and maybe within an hour or two, depending where you live. You can also order other non-food products on Amazon, like electronics, clothes, toys and toothpaste.

Amazon Prime Now is in about 2,000 cities and towns, and customers can usually get an item within an hour or two. Delivery is free for the two-hour delivery window, but there will likely be a delivery fee to get something within an hour. Amazon delivers from morning to evening, so if you get a craving for salsa and chips and order them on Amazon Prime Now at midnight, you won’t have food on your doorstep by 1 or 2 a.m.

[READ: Some of Best Personal Finance Podcasts to Listen to in 2022.]

Walmart Grocery Pickup and Delivery

Membership Cost: $98 for an annual membership

Delivery Fee: See below, but probably no fees if you’re a member.

If you sign up for Walmart+, you pay $12.95 a month or $98 a year, and you’ll get your groceries delivered for free. You have to order $35 or more for free delivery, or pay a $5.99 fee. If you want to use Express Delivery, which will deliver groceries in two hours or less, there’s a $10 fee.

If you don’t sign up for Walmart+ and just want to do grocery pickup and delivery, there is a $7.95 or $9.95 delivery charge, depending on whether you opt for next-day or same-day delivery or pickup.

Also worth noting: The prices aren’t marked up. What you pay for groceries through online delivery is what you’ll pay in the stores.

Shipt

Membership Cost: $99 a year

Delivery Fee: If you aren’t a member, you pay a $10 delivery fee

You can find Shipt throughout many parts of the country. If you download the app or visit its website, you can type in your ZIP code and find out if Shipt services your area.

If you want to use Shipt often, you’ll probably want to become a member, or you can pay a delivery fee of $10. Once you’re a member, if you buy $35 or more in groceries, there’s no shipping fee. Typically, you’ll order and receive your groceries on the same day.

Shipt does do markups, to offset the cost of doing your shopping for you. But through the app, you can always find deals, just as you can when shopping inside a store. You also may want to look for a coupon code for Shipt, which might save you even more.

Hungryroot

Membership Cost: $65 a week and up

Delivery Fee: None

This is a subscription food plan that specializes in sending healthy foods to you. You take a quiz, and Hungryroot fills up your online cart. Or you can say, “No, thanks,” and choose your own foods.

Weekly plans start at $65 and up. Hungryroot delivers just about everywhere in the U.S., except Alaska and Hawaii. That said, it doesn’t offer every type of grocery item, like milk, and so you might have to still use a different grocery delivery service — or go into a store — to get everything you need. But, again, if you’re looking for a different way to eat healthy, this may be a service you’d enjoy.

Imperfect Foods

Membership Cost: No membership fee

Delivery Fee: $4.99-$8.99

This is a grocery delivery service that sells perfectly good and tasty — but not the best-looking — foods. So you may get an oddly shaped zucchini or maybe apples that look fine, but there were just too many in this particular shipment, and they wound up at Imperfect Foods. The idea is that you use Imperfect Foods to get cheaper produce than you would at the supermarket — and save this food from being wasted.

If you do become a member, Imperfect Foods will send you groceries every week. You’ll be assigned a delivery day, and Imperfect Foods will pre-fill your cart with items that they think you might like. You can add or remove choices before the groceries are sent, and you are allowed to skip weeks if you don’t want a shipment.

[Read: How to Budget for Rising Gas Prices]

Tips for Using Grocery Delivery Services

Before you get too deep into online grocery delivery, you might want to remember a few rules of the road, according to Charles Thomas, a certified financial planner who owns Intrepid Eagle Finance in Clover, South Carolina. Beyond being good with money, he does a decent amount of grocery shopping online and has some suggestions for shoppers.

Stay away from small orders. You’ll probably pay a delivery fee if you do a small order, Thomas says. The larger the order, however, the less likely it is that you’ll pay an extra surcharge.

Understand memberships. Some services come with a membership fee. “The membership fee can mean a discounted delivery charge, so your household could come out ahead depending on your use of the service,” Thomas says.

Watch out for markups. Prices may differ if you buy an item online versus in store. “Some services mark up the price on a specific item relative to what you would pay at the same store in person. Not all markups are equal, so keep an eye out and don’t assume equal pricing across the board,” Thomas says.

Be deliberate about when you order. Consider when to schedule your delivery. “Timing is important,” Thomas says. “Some services price their delivery according to when you order. Expect to pay more for Sunday evening delivery compared to Tuesday morning.” In other words, when everybody else is shopping, you may want to hold back and do your online grocery delivery when demand drops.

More from U.S. News

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Grocery Delivery Services for Your Budget in 2022 originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 04/04/22: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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