There are days when schlepping to the grocery store just isn't going to happen, but you still need to fill your fridge. Luckily, there's an ever-expanding variety of online grocery retailers and services.
Amazon is one of the biggest operators in this space, which includes Boxed, FreshDirect, Instacart and Peapod. The company offers five different grocery delivery programs, depending on how quickly you need your groceries and what you're shopping for.
Here's a look at the groceries you can purchase from Amazon, all of the costs and delivery fees for each program, and where each service is available.
- Upfront cost: $0
- Delivery Fee: Free with order of $25 or more
- Delivery availability: 5-8 business day shipping available anywhere Amazon delivers
If you don't have a Prime membership, which costs $119 a year, you can still buy shelf-stable groceries from Amazon's main website. However, most of these items are sold in bulk. For example, an 8-pack of 16-ounce packages of Barilla spaghetti sells for $11.12.
You can find some good deals, but don't automatically assume that buying in bulk will net you the cheapest price — you should still shop around. Walmart sells a two pack of Barilla 32-ounce spaghetti for $4.84, which is slightly cheaper when calculating the cost per ounce, and you can get free two-day delivery.
And because Amazon purchased Whole Foods Market in 2017, the online giant's customers can purchase a limited number of Whole Foods' 365 Everyday Value brand of products in single servings. A 16-ounce box of 365 organic whole wheat spaghetti sells for $1.49, while a 16-ounce jar of 365 organic, creamy almond butter is $10.99.
If you don't have a nearby Whole Foods and don't want to pay for an Amazon membership, this is a great way to get pantry items delivered to your doorstep.
- Upfront cost: $14.99 per month + Prime membership ($119/year)
- Delivery Fee: Free for orders over $35, otherwise $9.99
- Delivery availability: same-day and next-day delivery in 15 cities: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C.
If you've searched for food items on Amazon, chances are you've seen the little green "fresh" label underneath certain products. That stands for AmazonFresh, a subscription service available to Prime members that delivers fresh groceries from Amazon fulfillment centers.
Through AmazonFresh, you can get fresh groceries, such as produce, meat and dairy, as well as pantry items, delivered to your door the day you order it or the day after. The service will cost $180 a year, but if you have a valid SNAP EBT card, you can get free access to AmazonFresh without a monthly membership fee.
The service offers a wide variety of groceries, personal care items and household supplies, such as paper plates, kitchen cleaners and trash bags from all major national brands. AmazonFresh also carries Whole Foods brands such as 365 and Engine 2 plant-strong products.
- Upfront cost: Included in Prime membership ($119/year)
- Delivery Fee: Free for 2-hour delivery on orders over $35, otherwise starts at $4.99
- Delivery availability: 1-hour and 2-hour delivery windows available in 88 major metros across the U.S.
Prime Now, which is included for free to Prime members, delivers Whole Foods groceries from the store to your doorstep. Similar to services like Instacart, someone does the in-store shopping for you and then a courier delivers your groceries. In addition to delivery, Prime Now offers curbside pickup at Whole Foods stores in 22 locations, according to SupermarketNews.
Unlike AmazonFresh, Prime Now groceries are typically sourced from nearby Whole Foods stores, so your options may be limited to products sold by the Austin, Texas-based specialty grocer. That means if you're looking for Dixie paper plates or Tide laundry detergent, for example, you'll need to substitute Whole Foods' more eco-friendly products that may be sold at slightly higher prices.
If you already have a Prime membership, Prime Now can be a cost-effective grocery delivery service for natural and organic groceries. Delivery is free if you select a two-hour delivery window on orders over $35.
Competitor Instacart generally charges a $3.99 fee for same-day deliveries of $35 or more, according to the company (deliveries in New York City and certain stores may be higher). Instacart Express customers who pay $99 for an annual membership are not charged delivery fees on orders over $35, although a service fee may still apply.
- Upfront cost: Included in Prime membership ($119/year)
- Delivery Fee: Free for orders over $35, otherwise $5.99
- Delivery availability: 1-4 business day shipping available in 48 states
Prime Pantry is a service that offers "low-priced grocery and household essentials in everyday sizes" to Prime members. You may have run across the blue "pantry" tag on items when browsing Amazon.com.
Prime Pantry offers a range of shelf-stable products such as snacks, cereal, condiments, cleaning products and even office supplies that are sold separately from other Amazon.com orders. These items are eligible for exclusive Prime Pantry coupons and deals. Prime Pantry also has themed boxes, so you can stock up on household and pantry essentials without having to spend the time adding everything to your cart.
In order to get free shipping on your orders, you do need to spend $35, otherwise it's $5.99 for shipping. Prime Pantry also has an option for customers to pay a $4.99 monthly subscription fee so that all of your orders qualify for free shipping. If you're ordering more than once a month, it may pay to subscribe if it's available in your neighborhood.
Unlike AmazonFresh and Prime Now, this service doesn't offer fresh groceries and deliveries can take up to four business days to arrive. But if you're not in a hurry to get your items and you're already a Prime member, this may be a good way to stock up on everyday items.
- Upfront cost: $0
- Delivery Fee: Free
- Delivery availability: 5-8 business-day shipping available anywhere Amazon delivers
Subscribe & Save is designed for Amazon customers who regularly order the same products week after week. You set up how frequently you want an item delivered and the quantity you need, and Amazon will automatically ship it out. It's not only convenient, but typically offers additional savings: You can set up an automatic delivery of 72 Donut Shop K-cups once every three months and get a 5% discount off the cost of your order, for example.
With this program, you can get up to 15% off all your Subscribe & Save purchases when you order five or more products to a single address each month. You can mix and match the items you get delivered on a monthly basis, but you need to have at least five in order to get the full 15% discount. Shipping is free and, many times, there are coupons available.
You can cancel the auto-deliveries right up until they ship and can change the frequency and quantity of your subscriptions at any time. There are also extra perks for Prime members with babies and small children, who can save 20% off Subscribe & Save items such as diapers and baby food through the Amazon Family program.
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