The Best Grocery Delivery Services for Your Budget

Inflation has made grocery shopping more expensive, and if you’re on a tight budget, it may not be the most joyful activity. That might make anyone think that it’s time to cut a grocery delivery service from their budget.

Maybe that’s a good idea, though there are still 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.

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

— Instacart.

— Amazon Fresh.

— Walmart+.

— Shipt.

— Hungryroot.

— Imperfect Foods.

[See: 12 Shopping Tricks to Keep You Under Budget]

Instacart

Best for: Shoppers who shop at a lot of different stores, since Instacart partners with numerous supermarket chains.

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 to use Instacart, 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

Best for: Amazon Prime members, since there’s no extra charge for Amazon Fresh if you’re an Amazon Prime member.

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). For one-hour delivery or one-hour pick up, there may be fees.

Walmart Grocery Pickup and Delivery

Best for: Walmart+ members and, in general, people who like to shop at Walmart.

Membership Cost: $98 for an annual membership, or $12.95 if you chose to pay on a monthly basis (monthly payments total $155.40 in a year).

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

If you sign up for Walmart+, you’ll get your groceries delivered for free. 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. If you want your items in two hours or less, you can do that, too, but you’ll pay the $10 fee plus the regular delivery charge.

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.

[SEE: Best Money-Saving Apps]

Shipt

Best for: Anyone.

Membership Cost: $99 a year, or you can pay $10.99 a month.

Delivery Fee: If you aren’t a member and don’t want to sign up for a year or a month, you pay a $10 delivery fee and applicable service fees, shown at checkout.

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. Once you’re a member, if you buy $35 or more in groceries, there’s no delivery fee; if you spend less than $35, you’ll pay a $7 delivery fee plus applicable service fees. 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, so along with membership or delivery fees, you’re paying for the convenience of not having to go out to the store. 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

Best for: Anyone looking for healthy food.

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, so you might have to still use a different grocery delivery service — or go into a store — to get everything you need. But if you’re looking for a different way to eat healthy, this may be a service you’d enjoy.

Imperfect Foods

Best for: Anyone concerned about food waste.

Membership Cost: No membership fee.

Delivery Fee: $5.99, or free if you spend over $60.

This is a grocery delivery service that sells perfectly good and tasty — but not the best-looking — foods. You may get an oddly shaped zucchini or maybe apples that look fine, but there were just too many in a particular shipment. 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 sign up and 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: 10 Grocery Items Getting Pricier and Alternatives to Buy Instead.]

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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How to Save Money: 10 Expert-Backed Ways

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The Best Grocery Delivery Services for Your Budget originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 10/12/22: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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