Which grocery delivery service will give you the most bang for your buck?

By Alyse Whitney | March 15, 2016 - 11:59AM 

Surviving off Seamless, stale cereal, and old packets of ramen in the back of your cupboard can only last so long, and there are some items that you can’t live without. Of course, that's where grocery delivery comes in (you didn't think we were going to suggest actually going out to a store, did you?).

Thankfully, there are a handful of online grocery stores and apps that will deliver anything to you—many in two hours or less, ensuring you never need to leave the house if you don't want to. But are they cheaper than your corner bodega?

We investigated the prices of some staples—eggs, milk and toilet paper—across six of the city's top hitters: FreshDirect, MaxDelivery, Peapod, Instacart, Google Shopping Express, and Amazon Prime Now. Plus we, threw in our corner bodega for comparison.

First, a little something about the services:

Max Delivery offers same-day, one-hour delivery from 7 a.m. to midnight in Manhattan. There is a $20 minimum and $4.95 delivery fee, but that's waived if your order is over $100. If it isn’t delivered within an hour, they refund your fee.

Instacart has same-day delivery from Fairway, Westside Market, Whole Foods, Zabar’s, and Costco (no membership needed, but prices are 15 percent higher than in-store in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens (but more limited in those boroughs) with $10 minimum order. Delivery fees are $7.99 over $35, and $11.99 under $35 for delivery in a one-hour window. But if you want it immediately within the next hour, it goes up to $9.99 for over $35 and $13.99 under $35. Instacart Express membership ($149/year) waives delivery fees for all orders over $35, but beware—there are also additional fees for “busy pricing” times. Delivery is available daily from 9 am to 11 pm.

FreshDirect features next-day delivery from 6:30 am to 11:30 pm within two-hour windows for $30 minimum. The delivery fee is $5.99.

Peapod offers next-day delivery from 6 am to 10 pm within two-hour windows with $60 minimum. Delivery costs $9.95 for orders under $60, and $6.95 over $100.

Google Shopping Express has same-day delivery from Fairway, Target, Walgreens, Costco in Manhattan, but no perishables can be delivered at time of publication. There is a $15 minimum with free delivery for members ($10/month or $95/year fee) or $4.99 delivery fee for non-members, but they don’t give you a specific time frame—your order will just come before 10 pm that day. Two-hour delivery windows start at $2.99 for members and $4.99 for non-members with a $35 minimum. The service is only offered in Manhattan currently.

Amazon Prime Now lets Prime members ($99/year membership) take advantage of two-hour free delivery in New York, with items from Amazon (6 am to midnight), Westside Market (8 am to 10 pm), Gourmet Garage (8 a.m. to 10 p.m.), D’Agostino (8 a.m. to 10 p.m.), and even Eataly (10 a.m. to 10 p.m.). Each store requires $15 delivery minimums, and you can usually upgrade your delivery to within one hour for $7.99. Everything is done on the Prime Now app (separate from the Amazon app), and you can even track your order as it’s prepared and delivered.

Second, the prices:


Max Delivery:  Seventh Generation, $4.99/4 rolls to Charmin, $21.89/18 rolls
Instacart: Green Forest, $2.79/4 rolls to Kirkland, $19.59/30 rolls
FreshDirect: Seventh Generation, $4.99/4 rolls to Charmin, $21.99/24 rolls
Peapod: Stop & Shop brand $2.29/4 rolls to Charmin $16.29/24 rolls
Google Express: Earth Friendly, $2.29/4 rolls to Kirkland $15.99/30 rolls
Amazon: Marcal Small Steps, $2.18/4 rolls to Scott 1000, $19.78/27 rolls
Corner bodega: Scott, $4.99/4 rolls to Charmin, $14.99/12 rolls (no bigger offered)

Cheapest option: Amazon


Max Delivery: Eggland’s Best, $2.99/dozen to Nature’s Yoke Pasture-Raised Grass-Fed $5.99/dozen
Instacart: Fairway Brand, $2.59/dozen to Vital Farms Organic Pasture-Raised, $8.99/dozen
FreshDirect: Alderfer Cage-Free $3.49/dozen to Handsome Farm Local Pasture Raised, $6.29/dozen
Peapod: Stop & Shop, $1.89/dozen to Organic Valley, $6.29/dozen
Amazon: Nature’s Yoke, $2.29/dozen to Horizon Organic, $9.99/dozen
Corner bodega: Eggland’s Best, $4.49/dozen to Nature’s Yoke, $7.29/dozen

Cheapest option: Peapod


Max Delivery: Cream-O-Land, $2.39/half gallon to Organic Valley, $6.29/half gallon
Instacart: Cream-O-Land, $2.29/half gallon to Trickling Springs Creamline, $6.19/half gallon
FreshDirect: Just FreshDirect, $2.49/half gallon to Organic Valley Grass-Fed, $5.99/half gallon
Peapod: Stop & Shop, $2.49/half gallon to Organic Valley, $5.89/half gallon
Amazon: Hood, $2.69/half gallon to Stonyfield Organic, $7.49/half gallon
Corner bodega: Cream-O-Land, $3.99/half gallon to Organic Valley, $6.99/half gallon

Cheapest option: Instacart

Here's our takeaway:

Surprisingly, there isn't a huge difference between delivery services' costs, but for convenience and value, Amazon Prime Now wins out. It is the easiest option to grab a few staples or a whole grocery haul. If you don't have a Prime membership, Peapod is the most widely-available service with the lowest costs. 



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