Ever feel as though the internet is turning us all into hermits? With services like Shipt, Instacart, and Amazon Prime Now, there’s virtually no reason to ever leave your house again. OK, these companies can’t provide a worthy substitute for all of life’s experiences, but they can eliminate your weekly trip to the grocery store.
Grocery apps can generally be divided into two categories. When you use a service such as Shipt or Instacart, you’re basically hiring someone to go to the grocery store for you. Services like Peapod, on the other hand, operate more like virtual grocery stores. They have their own inventory… you just don’t have to go to the store to get it.
Below are a few of our favorites, so you can spend less time at the store and more time prepping whatever is on this week’s menu. We’ve also compiled an extensive list of the best home and garden gadgets, if you prefer to grow your own produce.
How it works: Once you sign up for a membership and download the iOS or Android app, all you have to do is select your groceries, choose your delivery option, and check out. Then, in about an hour or so, your Shipt shopper will knock on your door. Shipt currently offers products from major grocery chains, such as Publix, Kroger, Fry’s, and H-E-B, and uses teams of local shoppers to handpick your items, ensuring that your order of fresh produce is actually fresh. Customers can use this app during store hours, which in some cases means 24-hour availability.
Availability: Shipt is currently available in several major cities in the Southeast, Texas, Arizona, Michigan, and Ohio.
Pricing: A Shipt membership costs $100 a year, or $14 per month, and members get free delivery on orders that exceed $35. Otherwise, there’s a $7 delivery fee. The price of grocery items is also slightly higher than if you were to buy them at a brick-and-mortar store yourself. Tipping your shopper is encouraged, too, and can be done via the Shipt app.
How it works: Instacart uses a team of local shoppers to procure grocery items from a variety of stores in your area. While you can shop at a number of major grocery chains, such as Mariano’s and Whole Foods, Instacart also has a feature that allows you to shop by recipe. You can schedule your deliveries in advance or order on-demand.
Availability: Instacart delivers to dozens of major cities in the United States, including Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, and New York.
Pricing: Your first delivery is free. After that, the delivery fee is $6 for tw0-hour delivery and $8 for one-hour delivery in most cities. Delivery fees may be higher during busy shopping times, though customers can also sign up for an Instacart Express membership which grants them free deliveries on orders exceeding $35. A membership in Chicago is either $150 for the year or $15 per month.
While Instacart tries to offer their groceries at the same price as shopping in-store, these prices can vary slightly. Instacart adds a 10-percent “service amount” to orders, in order to provide high-guaranteed commissions to shoppers. The “service amount” is not a tip.
How it works: Amazon Prime Now is one of the many benefits of an Amazon Prime membership. While this delivery service relies heavily on items stored at one of Amazon’s many warehouses, you can also get items from local markets such as Eataly and Plum Market. Prime Now also delivers much more than food. Everything from batteries and cleaning supplies, to toys and sunglasses can be delivered to your door in less than two hours with Prime Now.
Availability: Amazon Prime Now is available in dozens of major cities, including Atlanta, Brooklyn, Chicago, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Nashville, San Antonio, and Seattle.
Pricing: Amazon Prime Now is included with an Amazon Prime membership ($100 a year). Two-hour delivery is free, and you can pay $8 for expedited one-hour service. A minimum order of $20 is required for free delivery.
How it works: Peapod is an online grocery store. While services such as Shipt and Instacart rely on the products offered by other local stores, many of the Peadpod’s items come from its own inventory. In that regard, Peapod is much more like a standard grocery store than some of the other options on our list. The online store is organized by “aisles,” and since the bulk of Peapod’s inventory is stored in the company’s own warehouses, customers can forgo some of the delivery costs by picking up their own orders.
Availability: Chicago, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Southern New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and Pennsylvania.
Pricing: The delivery fee varies depending on the size of the order. For orders of $60, the minimum required for delivery, Peapod charges $10. The delivery fee drops to $8 for orders exceeding $75, and drops again to $7 for orders of more than $100. All orders can also be picked up at a Peapod store for $3.
How it works: Google Express is the odd duck on our list. While services such as Instacart and Shipt will bring you fresh produce to your doorstep, Google Express is more focused on dry goods. such as cereals, canned foods, and coffee. The inventory on Google Express goes for beyond the grocery store, however, and includes products from a wide range of stores, including Costco, Kohl’s, and PetSmart.
Availability: Most major cities in the U.S.
Pricing: Membership to Google Express costs $10 a month, or $95 a year, and includes free delivery on all orders that meet the service’s minimum requirements. Delivery for non-members starts at $5, but varies depending on the size of the order and the delivery time.
How it works: Fresh Direct is a delivery service which focuses on, you guessed it, freshness. If you’re concerned about where your vegetables come from, or if your chicken is free-range, Fresh Direct is definitely worth checking out. In addition to providing daily quality ratings for its produce, Fresh Direct includes explanatory information for many of its products, so you know exactly how your food arrived on your doorstep.
Availability: Many cities in the Northeast, including Brooklyn, Queens, Essex, Fairfield, and Philadelphia.
Pricing: The delivery fee varies depending on location, but you can expect to pay about $6 on a minimum order of $30. Fresh Direct doesn’t offer same-day delivery, but it recently launched a new service called “FoodKick,” which can deliver food within the hour.