Buying my groceries online has saved me $100s and many hours of my precious time!
Up until about a year ago, I shopped in-store at cheap local grocery stores.
Sure, I shopped on Amazon, and with other online retailers, but I did my big grocery shop in-store.
And, boy, was that a mistake!
Between the cost of gas, getting enticed by those deals on the ends of aisles that resulted in me buying stuff that wasn’t actually on my shopping list, to missing out on offers, shopping in-store wasn’t great for my budget.
It’s not just my budget though that was affected by shopping in-store. More importantly, getting to the store, navigating the store, and hauling everything to my car took up a lot of time.
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There had to be a better way.
And there was…
Online grocery shopping!
In today’s post, I’m going to tell you how ordering groceries online can save you money and time, and what the best online grocery stores are.
I’ll cover stores that are great for everything from fresh produce to baby supplies. And, I’ll cover my top 3 cheapest places to buy groceries online for those who’re looking to save money.
But is it cheaper to buy groceries online?
Well, like most other products, it depends on what you are buying, when you are buying and where you are buying it from.
That said, while price-wise, not every single item may be cheaper than at the local supermarket, as you are about to discover, there are a few factors that indeed make the internet the cheapest place to buy groceries.
What will I learn?
How Online Grocery Shopping Saved Me Time & Money
When I started doing my grocery shopping online, I noticed a few things from the outset that saved me time and money.
I had a running total for my cart
In-store I just tossed stuff in my cart and didn’t know the cost of my groceries until I was at the checkout. I tend to do one main grocery shop per week. So, I break my monthly food budget into four, since most months have about four weeks.
Now, I can look at my budget and see if my cart aligns with it. For example, if I see my purchase total is looking a little high, I can go into my cart and see if there’s anything I could take out.
This has saved me a lot of money, simply because I have that number there. When I can see exactly what I’m spending, it makes sticking to my budget a whole lot easier.
I didn’t miss out on coupons and deals
I feel like deals and coupons are easier to miss in-store. With so much going on with advertising and the busyness of a store it can be easy to miss out on deals. Heck, sometimes I even forget using my printed grocery coupons.
I find that online, the deals are right in front of me. And if I type in “pasta” for example, I can see all of the different kinds of pasta that the store sells and which ones are on sale all in one place.
So, I can choose to buy pasta from a different brand than usual if that brand’s pasta is currently on sale.
It made meal planning easier
Each week, I plan out the meals I’ll be having, because I find this is the best way for me to keep my grocery bill in check.
I don’t have a rigid plan, like tacos on Tuesday, for example. But I try to come up with seven dinners that I can have throughout the week when I feel like them.
I found that when I was shopping in-store. I would pick up food for a couple of days, only to find myself back in the grocery store a few days later to stock up for the next few days.
Doing this resulted in more trips to the store, which meant more opportunities to buy stuff I didn’t really need.
In-store, it’s tough to get a whole week’s shop. It’s so time-consuming, and in the end, I just want to get out of there!
With online shopping, I can take my time, and add items for my whole week.
This makes sticking to my meal plan a whole lot easier. It’s so effective for saving money on food.
It’s saved me time and effort
Everyone is busy and I’m no different. Any chance I have to save time and effort, I take it.
That’s why buying groceries online is so awesome. I can just place my order, and everything else is taken care of.
You’ll be surprised how much time you save by not having to go to the grocery store.
And here’s the best part.
You can take this extra time and use it to make money!
Go over to Swagbucks and get yourself some Amazon gift cards or money to your PayPal account for playing games, watching videos, browsing the internet and plenty of other fun and simple tasks.
Or just take that extra time to relax.
As you can see, buying your groceries online is awesome for you and your budget, but the problem is, where do you shop?
The Best Sites for Online Grocery Shopping
There are so many sites out there where you can get your groceries. But which are the best?
Well below, I tell you!
Here are the best online grocery shopping stores.
1. Peapod: Best for fresh foods
Buying stuff online is great. But what about fresh foods? Are they really just as good as those you’d pick up in-store?
With Peapod, they certainly are!
Peapod is an online grocery delivery service that’s owned by the same company that operates Stop & Shop, Food Lion, Giant-Landover and other supermarkets.
It is the largest online grocery delivery store in the United States.
Based in Chicago, Peapod operates in several U.S. cities.
Why shop with Peapod?
Just shop online and Peapod will deliver your groceries right to your home.
The site has 1000s of weekly specials available in every category – just like a regular grocery store would.
There are coupons available and Peapod will double manufacturer coupons up to $0.99, which is awesome.
There are even delivery discounts including free delivery. In fact, all new customers get 60 days of free delivery.
With lots of features that make shopping online easier, like Order Genius, which will auto-fill your cart with the products you most often buy and remember your shopping history from Stop & Shop and Giant loyalty reward cards to Express Shop, which allows you to quickly find and shop for all the items you need, the site makes shopping quick and convenient.
You can also filter your searches by your needs, like if you’re looking for dairy-free cereal or peanut-free snacks, for example.
It’s not just fresh produce that Peapod is great for. It also provides tons of other foods and of course things like pet supplies, beauty products, and household items.
You’ll find plenty of products from national brads on Peapod. And it also carries a large range of its own brands that are of great quality and value.
What’s delivery like?
You can get next day delivery everywhere and same-day delivery in some areas.
Delivery costs vary, depending on the size of the order, from $6.95 to $9.95. The site says that delivery can be as low as $2.95 with available discounts.
Pick-up is free on all orders. But pick-up isn’t available in all areas.
2. Instacart: Best if you’re looking for convenience
Want convenience when buying your groceries?
Well, look no further than Instacart.
Why shop with Instacart?
How the site works is simple.
The site connects you with Personal Shoppers in your area who will shop for and deliver groceries from your favorite stores.
Think of it like UberEats, but for groceries!
Basically, shoppers do your shopping for you and deliver it right to your door – convenient, right?
There are 1,000s of products available on the site from the stores you already shop at.
You can get exclusive deals on popular products.
There are exclusive coupons available on hundreds of items.
You can get fresh produce on there, and lots of other items as well.
What’s delivery like?
With groceries delivered in as little as 1 hour, there’s no more convenient way to shop than with Instacart.
It makes deliveries in lots of cities, like:
- Los Angeles
- New York City
- Washington D.C.
- And more.
Shop for groceries at your favorite store and then schedule a delivery. You can have your groceries delivered in as little as an hour. Or you can have them delivered later in the day or week.
If you prefer to pick up your groceries yourself, then you can.
Instacart offers a pick-up option. You choose a pick-up time and collect your groceries at the store. The pick-up option is only available at select locations.
The delivery fee varies depending on the size of your order and the delivery time you choose.
Instacart does have a membership service called Instacart Express. It makes delivery free on all orders over $35. Another benefit you get is reduced service fees. You have a pay a monthly membership fee for Instacart Express.
To see if Instacart is available near you, visit this page.
Remember that convenience doesn’t come cheap!
Now, Instacart is pretty convenient. So, do you pay extra for this convenience?
According to Instacart, retailers set the prices of items available for delivery on the Instacart website.
Many retailers have the same in-store prices on Instacart, but others set different prices on Instacart than those you’d get in-store. Handily, you can view the pricing policy for each store.
In certain cases, a flat percentage is added to cover the cost of the Instacart service.
So, a service fee may apply to each order you place. This fee covers a variety of operating costs, such as shopper operations, insurance, and background checks for shopping. This service fee isn’t a tip, so it doesn’t go to the shopper who delivers your order.
When there’s a high demand for a delivery time, Instacart may apply a Busy Pricing delivery fee.
But, if you can schedule your delivery in advance, you’re much more likely to pay standard delivery fees.
3. FreshDirect: Best for organic and kosher food
Next up, we have FreshDirect.
Why shop with FreshDirect?
I’d recommend this site if you’re looking to buy organic or kosher food online.
You can find fresh, high-quality food on the site. And, FreshDirect offers all your supermarket brand favorites as well.
You can find groceries across multiple categories on the site, like Meals, Fruit, Vegetables, Meat & Poultry, Dairy, Frozen, Wines & Spirits.
What’s delivery like?
FreshDirect delivers to the following areas:
- New York: Brooklyn, The Bronx, Manhattan, Nassau, Queens, Rockland, Staten Island, Suffolk, and Westchester.
- New Jersey: Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, and Union.
- Connecticut: Fairfield.
- Pennsylvania: Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia.
- Delaware: New Castle
- Washington, D.C.
- Jersey Shore (summer only)
- Hamptons (summer only)
Delivery ranges from $5.99 to $9.99 depending on where you’re getting your groceries delivered to.
Overall, it’s a great online supermarket!
4. Boxed: Best for large families or anyone looking to buy in bulk
Boxed is the place to shop if you have a large family. It’s sort of like an online Costco.
It’s an online and mobile wholesale retailer that delivers bulk-sized items right to your house. Unlike Costco though, you don’t need a membership to shop through Boxed.
Why shop with Boxed?
You can get tons of wholesale products on there, like groceries, household products, and health supplies.
What I like about Boxed is that it offers products in such a wide range of categories, like:
Not only does the site allow you to get wholesale deals, but it also has plenty of other offers available, like save 15% on Game Day snacks.
The best part is though that Boxed gives out two free samples on every order.
Who doesn’t want free stuff?
What’s delivery like?
Boxed ships its orders with UPS.
It ships everywhere in the contiguous United States.
It doesn’t currently ship to:
- PO Boxes
- APO addresses
- FPO addresses
- DPO addresses
Shipping is free on your first order. Just meet the order minimum of $19.99 and you’ll get free shipping.
After your first order, shipping will cost $6.99 for orders that are below $49. For orders over $49, you’ll qualify for free shipping.
Boxed also has a membership program called Boxed Up. It costs $49 a year. As a member, you get free shipping on all orders. You also get other benefits, like 2% cashback on groceries and exclusive discounts. There’s a free 30-day trial of the service.
Overall, Boxed is a great platform for online grocery shopping.
5. ShopFoodEx: Great overall!
For a shopping experience that’s just awesome all around, head on over the ShopFoodEx.
It’s an online grocery store that deliveries groceries nationwide and to APO/FPO addresses. It’s been around since 2001, so it’s long-established on the market.
Why shop with ShopFoodEx?
There are more than 15,000 grocery items on ShopFoodEx, so you can find everything you need.
There really are so many products available across multiple categories, like:
- Boxed dinner & sides
- Cookies & Crackers
- Deli & Bakery
- Health & Beauty
There’s a great selection to choose from on Boxed.
Even better, although it’s a wholesale place, there are no minimums, so you don’t have to buy multiple cases of anything if you don’t want to.
What’s delivery like?
Shipping rates on ShopFoodEx vary a lot.
The cost of shipping varies depending on the cost of your order and your shipping zone.
You could get shipping for just $9.99 or $12.99. But if you order $900 worth of stuff, shipping could be $60+ or as much as $294.99.
So, those shipping charges are pretty high. Most people won’t be ordering $900 worth of stuff though. So. expect shipping to be $9.99 to $17.99.
Orders are usually shipped within 24 to 72 hours after they are placed. Orders that are shipped within the lower 48 United States take about two to seven business days to reach most locations.
For orders that ship to APO and FPO addresses, deliveries can take from one to four weeks to arrive.
Orders that are shipped to AK and HI can take up to one week to arrive.
When you spend $100, the site will take 33% off your shipping charges.
What’s the Cheapest Place to Buy Groceries Online?
Okay, so above, I’ve given you some awesome sites for buying groceries online.
They are great whether you’re looking for convenience, in the case of Instacart, or great fresh produce, in the case of Peapod.
If you’re looking for the cheapest place to buy groceries online, then take a look at some of the services below.
6. Amazon Fresh (If you’re a Prime member)
Amazon is one of the cheapest places to shop online. It offers awesome prices on everything, and groceries are no different.
Through Amazon Fresh, you can buy your groceries online for a low price.
With Amazon Fresh, you can purchase groceries like:
- Fresh produce
- Meat & seafood
- Dairy & eggs
- Frozen foods
- Snack foods
- Deli & prepared foods.
There are even household items available.
What’s delivery like?
The best part is that delivery is free.
Amazon Fresh offers two types of delivery, including:
- Attended Delivery: You choose a time slot when you can receive your order in person. Amazon will leave your order with a doorman or security guard if necessary. You can leave instructions when you do your order on the preview page, under delivery instructions.
- Doorstep Delivery: You can choose a two to three-hour time slot that fits your schedule. Amazon will leave your items on your doorstep. For buildings with secure entries or limited access, Doorstep Delivery isn’t available. Amazon says that its packaging is designed to maintain the right temperature for your products, but it encourages you to retrieve your order as soon as possible. If Amazon can’t access your doorstep, then you can leave instructions on the preview order page, under delivery instructions.
Attended Delivery and Doorstep Delivery are free on orders that are over the local free shipping threshold before tax. In eligible regions, people get free shipping on orders that are $35 or more before tax. All other regions get free shipping on orders of $50 or more before tax.
Handily enough, if your region is eligible for the $35 free shipping threshold, it will automatically be applied during checkout.
Aside from getting stuff delivered to your address, you can also choose the Amazon Fresh Pickup option.
This is available to Prime members in select cities. What’s great about the Pickup option is that you get it at no additional cost and without an order minimum. This is a great option if you only plan to get a few things because you can save money on those delivery fees.
If you live in a participating city, you can choose a pickup location as your Amazon Fresh account address, and then reserve a time slot. Prime members who have the Amazon Fresh Add-on can get the added option of picking up orders in as little as 30 minutes!
How awesome is that?
Amazon doesn’t provide its own list of cities it delivers to. Other places online have lists but I’m reluctant to use those, as they could be out of date.
The best way to see if Amazon Fresh delivers near you is to sign in to your Amazon account.
Keep in mind you do need to be a Prime member
Now, there is a caveat to Amazon Fresh.
It’s only worthwhile if you’re a Prime member.
Prime gives you free delivery on all of your Amazon orders, as long as they include Prime eligible items.
It also gives you access to movies, TV shows, and documentaries through Amazon Prime Video, which is Amazon’s streaming service, access to books and music, and lots more benefits.
Now, to get access to Amazon Fresh, you used to have to pay a $14.99 fee. Now, though, Prime members get access to Amazon Fresh for free, as part of their membership, and they also get their groceries delivered for free too!
Next, we have Amazon Pantry.
This is another really awesome service that’s available to Prime members.
You can shop for groceries and household essentials from Amazon Pantry and save up to 15%!
With Amazon Pantry, you basically fill up a box with items. The more Pantry items you buy, the more you save.
If you buy five Pantry items, for example, you save 5%.
You save 10% when you buy any 10 items.
And when you buy 15 items, you save 15%.
Prime Pantry is great because it allows Amazon to offer customers thousands of items that usually aren’t cost-effective to ship individually, like a $3 body wash that costs $5 to ship.
There are also weekly deals and coupons available from Prime Pantry on many popular items.
It accepts SNAP EBT too.
What’s delivery like?
The best part is that not only can you get these great discounts on your groceries, but if you’re a Prime member and your order is more than $35, shipping is free!
Otherwise, there’s a flat shipping fee of $5.99, which is still pretty cheap.
You can find products from all of your favorite brands on Prime Pantry, like Pepsi, Bounty, Nestle, and Kraft.
Amazon Prime Pantry doesn’t say where it ships to, so again, just log in to your Amazon account to see if this service is available where you live.
It does say that, currently, Prime Pantry boxes can’t be shipped to these types of addresses:
- PO Boxes
- Amazon Hub Lockers
- Addresses outside of the contiguous United States (Alaska and Hawaii)
Most orders arrive within four business days.
Last, but certainly not least, we have Walmart Grocery.
This is such a great place to shop online.
Walmart is known for its great prices and it offers these online too.
With Walmart Grocery, you can find all of those super low prices you come to expect at your local Walmart store when you shop online.
Walmart accepts SNAP EBT too.
What’s delivery like?
You do your shopping online as you normally would, and then you can either have your groceries delivered to your house or schedule a pick up at your local store.
With grocery pickup, Walmart will load your items into your car, which is great.
Sure, Amazon is cheap, but if you’re not a Prime member, and don’t want to sign up for a membership, then Walmart is a great alternative.
So, Which Online Grocery Store is Better?
There are lots of online grocery stores nowadays, and many regular stores now offer online shopping to their customers.
Above, I’ve picked the top 8.
But, which one is best?
It really depends on what it is you’re looking for.
To me, Peapod stands out for its quality and fresh produce.
Amazon and Walmart are also awesome because they’re so cheap. I love that with Amazon since I’m a Prime member, I can get delivery for free, and in the case of Prime Pantry, I can save 15% on my shopping.
Walmart’s online grocery service is also awesome. I find that it’s easy to shop through the platform, and its prices are super cheap as well.
But, for you, Boxed might be the best option, because, you have a large family. Or if you live in the NYC area, and are looking for organic food, FreshDirect may be your go-to.
It really comes down to your own needs. All of the grocery platforms above are awesome, for different reasons like, they’re convenient, or cheap, or offer a huge range of products.
Give these grocery stores a try, and let us know in the comments section below what your best online grocery shopping stores are.