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Your Guide to Affordable Online Grocery Shopping

No time to hit the supermarket? Or do you just hate grocery shopping? Whatever the reason, you’re procrastinating your grocery trip. Instead of blocking out at least an hour to visit the store, try online grocery shopping. Online grocery shopping has been around for nearly 20 years, and there are several grocers that service different areas.

Where can I buy groceries online?


Amazon sells everything from A to Z, and groceries are no exception. AmazonPantry stocks dry goods for purchase and AmazonFresh offers produce and dairy as well. Amazon offers a special version of the Prime membership called “Prime Fresh”; for $299 a year, members have access to all the benefits of a standard Prime membership with the addition of free grocery delivery. You can buy everything from wine to dairy and produce. Prime Fresh membership costs three times as much as a normal $99 annual Prime membership. Although AmazonFresh offers competitive pricing with brick-and-mortar stores and conveniently provides same-day shipping, the annual pricing is steep. Are you willing to spend $299 up front, or would you rather pay for delivery fees every week? AmazonFresh doesn’t rule the online grocery industry; they only service metro areas in Seattle, California and New York.


If you’re in the Midwest, you may want to give Peapod a try. Available on your smartphone and on desktop, Peapod has been in the grocery delivery game since 1989. It partnered with Stop & Shop and Giant to deliver groceries to the following markets: Chicago, Milwaukee, Southeast Wisconsin, Indianapolis, South New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia.

Peapod offers reasonable rates. Deliveries require a minimum order of $60. Shipping on orders under $100 costs $9.95; for orders exceeding $100, delivery costs only $6.95. You can even pick up your groceries for a smaller fee of $2.95. The best part about Peapod is the coupon compatibility.


Instacart is another option that you might like if you need groceries in a hurry. When you purchase groceries in Instacart, a personal shopper goes to a local grocery store, buys your items, and delivers them to you. This fairly young start-up has rapidly expanded (serving areas within and beyond Amazon and Peapod’s range) and continues to grow. As of July 21015, Instacart will deliver to the following cities: Atlanta, Austin, Boulder, Chicago, Denver,  Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco (and the Bay Area), San Jose, Seattle, and Washington D.C.

They offer a premium membership similar to AmazonFresh; comparatively, their Instacart Express option is only $99 a year and includes free delivery on two hour and scheduled grocery deliveries over $35.

Consider the drawbacks to online grocers.

Buying your groceries online comes with the advantage of convenience, but there are some cons to online. Perhaps the biggest drawback to online grocery shopping is the concern over produce. A normal trip to your grocery store takes longer than filling your online cart and checking out. However, the trip takes longer because you want to inspect your produce before you purchase it. You want to ensure your bananas are bruise-free, you want to pick avocados that will last a day or two on the counter. You take that risk with online grocery shopping, and although most services will easily allow for refunds, you want your order right the first time.

Is online grocery shopping right for you?

It depends on your circumstances. A hefty membership eliminates the cost of shipping, but it only pays off if you buy your groceries online every single week. Paying $299 for a year-long subscription to AmazonFresh gives you free delivery. Looking at the expense from a weekly basis, that’s a $5.75 fee for each delivery (for 52 weeks). If you’re fortunate enough to live five minutes from a supermarket, you won’t be saving a lot on gas expenses. Not everyone is so lucky; when you need to take a lengthy public transit route to get to a quality grocery store, online grocery shopping is more reasonable. In addition those who live far from a supermarket, people who can’t leave the home for extended periods of time will find these services to be beneficial—as long as they live in the right city, of course. 

Last Updated: August 07, 2015