Grocery Store Glut: Is Amazon Actually the Cheapest Place to Buy Groceries?
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You may find that your grocery budget has ballooned in the past few months, and you’re not alone if you’ve been surprised at some of the food prices you’re seeing on the shelves. Most of the hardest hits have been to household staples like dairy, meat, and eggs — according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the price of a dozen grade A eggs rose 60% in the last year, costing, on average, $4.25 in December 2022.
Having a hard time even finding eggs in stock? The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that poultry and egg production have fallen in the past few months due to the ongoing bird, or “avian” flu epidemic. While that may not be affecting every aspect of your mealtime plate, inflation still continues to keep our refrigerators and pantries in its grasp, with grocery prices overall up 11.8% last December. That’s why more and more people are turning to ordering online groceries as a way to save some dough (no pun intended) and reap the convenience of fast delivery and similar choices to what you’d find on the shelves in a brick and mortar supermarket.
When it comes down to the best places to order groceries online, you might find yourself asking how much cheaper would it really be to buy household staples from sites like Amazon. Are the prices really lower than what you’d find in a store? Is ordering groceries online worth it, and where can you get the most bang for your buck?
Just like how meal delivery services blew up over the past few years, providing an entire week’s worth of meal options (sometimes fully-prepared) with just a few clicks, the top online grocery sites from Amazon Fresh to Instacart will send you everything from produce and poultry, to pantry staples and toilet paper. Here are our top choices to knock your weekly grocery run off your to-do list.
What Are the Best Places to Order Groceries Online?
The best online grocery services will have enough variety in stock to not make you grab the car keys and go out just for one missing ingredient, and deliver the whole haul in a timely fashion. Some grocery services will even allow you to choose same-day delivery options or pick your drop-off window, so you can order in the morning and put a fresh meal on the table that same evening. You also see house brands on some sites keeping prices on staples lower than in-store.
1. Amazon Fresh
It may not surprise you, but Amazon actually has the lowest prices on food and beverages ordered online for delivery in the U.S. and U.K. If you order through Amazon Fresh, your groceries are, on average, 7% lower than other online retailers according to e-commerce analytics platform Profitero. Take eggs, for example — in our own search we found that the lowest price for a dozen eggs at the time of this article on Amazon Fresh was $3.39, versus $4.49 on Stop & Shop’s website. Amazon owns Whole Foods, so you can order from their house brand, 365, and get quality food at lower-than-average prices.
Besides having consistently lower prices, we like Amazon because there are plenty of other ways to save beyond just what you add to cart. With Amazon’s Subscribe & Save, you can save up to 15% more on the staples you buy most, and set up automatic reorders at a frequency that works for you. You can also digitally “clip” coupons on Amazon and get off to $10 off, depending on the price of the item (new coupons and deals are added every week).
Speedy delivery is also a huge plus, getting your groceries in as fast as 5 hours with Amazon Same-Day Delivery. Sign up for Amazon Prime, and you can get ultrafast 2-hour grocery delivery from Amazon Fresh, Whole Foods Market, and other local/specialty stores. Overall, Amazon packs the one-two punch of competitive prices and convenience that can’t be beat.
Buy Amazon Fresh Grocery Delivery $35 Minimum
If you know exactly what you need, and you know your favorite brands from your local grocery store, than there’s no better option than the hands-on delivery style of Instacart. Instead of operating out of warehouses like Amazon, this third-party service hires shoppers that will head to your local Stop & Shop, Costco, or other supermarket, and purchase the groceries in-store, then delivering them to your home. With more multiple stores to choose from, you have a much greater selection.
The upside is that you have more control, since shoppers can send photos of replacements if one of your requested items is out of stock, and you can approve or reject it in real-time. It’s a major time-saver, and you can track your grocery delivery via the Instacart mobile app, so you’ll never be caught off-guard by a lengthy delivery window. The downside is you might sacrifice some cost for convenience — prices can be marked up to 14% higher than in-store. That said, you can get unlimited deliveries for just $10 a month, so it’s still a win if you’re on a budget.
Buy Instacart Grocery Delivery $10 Minimum
Shipt is another great grocery delivery option if you’re looking for the best deals and low prices on everything from pantry staples to household cleaning goods. Similar to Instacart, you’ll get your own personal shopper who’ll grab items from your grocery list at local supermarkets and wholesalers like Costco. Since Shipt is owned by Target, the service mostly focuses on discount retailers, so it’s a great option if you’re looking for chain-specific deals (including Target) and savings on bulk food items.
Besides finding a plethora of low prices, Shipt also wins when it comes to same-day delivery, and can occasionally deliver faster than Amazon Fresh (we’ve seen as low as an hour). This is, for the record, without scheduling a delivery days in advance. If you’re terrible at time-management (guilty as charged) this is the best way to get groceries in a hurry, although you won’t have as wide of a selection of local stores compared to Instacart. Their one-time delivery fee is $10, but there’s no minimum order, and you can even get non-grocery items delivered to your doorstep (we’re talking pet food, vitamins from your pharmacy, even lightbulbs from the home supply store).
Buy Shipt Online Grocery Delivery $0 Minimum
4. Misfits Market
Don’t bang your head against the wall at the price of organic produce — Misfits Market is the answer. While they offer a smaller selection than most major grocery delivery services, they have incredibly competitive prices when it comes to organic fruits and veggies, beating out local supermarkets and other online delivery sites (the brand says you can save up to 40% off regular prices). While their prices aren’t always that low for every category, you can routinely find sales on sustainable brands, and their meats and seafood, bakery items, and dairy products are all high-quality.
Misfits Market is a subscription service, though, so the deliveries will be at the same time every week (no panic-buying here). Build your cart each week based on a combination of what you’ve ordered before and what produce is in season (you can make swaps). Skip weeks, pause, or cancel without penalty, although if you don’t edit your cart, Misfits will send you a box of the same groceries you ordered the week before.
If you’re looking to cut your weekly grocery bill while still eating organic, and don’t mind the rigidity of weekly deliveries, Misfits Market is the service for you.
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