Which grocery store delivery service is the best time saver?

“Time is money.” I’ve heard that saying my whole life, but never has it meant more to me than after becoming a working mother. Ever since my son was born eight years ago, time has become even more valuable to me. And if you’re anything like me, you are willing to consider paying for services that will give you back your time. As more grocery delivery services have popped up over the past few years, I’ve been eager to try them out to see if my time is indeed worth the money.




Peapod has been around for quite a while and is known as the original grocery delivery service. It’s simple: You go online, order your groceries, pick a delivery date/time, and your groceries appear on your doorstep.


What you need to know:  


Even when I wasn’t there, I was still able to arrange for my groceries to be delivered to my home. They were left in climate controlled containers at the place of my choosing. You can either arrange a time for the containers to be picked up, or simply swap them out at your next delivery.


Peapod has a new feature available: prepared meal kits with all the ingredients required for delicious meals. Offered at a very affordable price, this is a guaranteed lifesaver on a busy weeknight. (Can I get an amen?)


There is no registration fee to sign up with Peapod, and no obligation to order once an account is created.


Peapod charges a delivery service fee depending on the size of order, ranging from $6.95 to $9.95. A minimum order of $60 is required for delivery. Certain days and hours can give you a discount on delivery.


Hometown favorites are offered – we Chicagoans can get Lou Malnati’s Pizza or Eli’s Cheesecake! How can you go wrong??


Price check: 


Milk: $2.99


1 dozen large eggs: $1.99


Wheat bread: $1.99


Amazon Fresh


We all know that Amazon is taking over the world (and really, who is complaining?) but the latest and greatest offering is their grocery delivery. Just log on to your Amazon Prime account, choose the items and a delivery day/time, and your groceries are delivered right to your doorstep.


What you need to know: 


The quality of food is excellent. You can choose to shop at Whole Foods Market or through the general Grocery and Gourmet food.


Amazon Prime members are charged $14.99/month to use the service.


This food can also be dropped off at your home even if you’re not available to pick up.


Bags are disposable, so you don’t need to store them until the next delivery or arrange a pick-up.


Price check: 


Milk: $3.76


1 dozen large eggs: $3.49


Wheat bread: $3.02




Uber has come to grocery shopping! Personalized delivery cuts the grocery shopping out of your schedule, but it’s as hands-on as ever. Just as with traditional grocery delivery services, you just go online and create your grocery list. Then you select a delivery day/time and a personal shopper is assigned to you. This personalized shopper will go to one of the grocery affiliates (Meijer here in the Chicagoland area) and purchase your items. Your personal shopper will then delivery your groceries right to your house. Voila! Shopping done. Ah-ma-zing.


What you need to know: 


Shipt has a yearly membership of $99. But I have seen discounts that can cut the cost in half, so keep an eye out!


When ordering your groceries, you can write notes about the groceries you are purchasing like: “Please select bananas that are slightly green.”


Be available and near your phone when your personal shopper is doing the shopping because they may text you questions about your order. Carolyn, my personal shopper, texted me to make sure I really wanted to order five apples and a bag of apples (oops, my bad!). She also let me know that the tomatoes I ordered didn’t look great but there was another option for the same price that looked much better. I loved this aspect of the shopping – Carolyn was shopping for me like it was for herself! As a note, the phone number is only available for a window of time and then disconnected. And your personal shopper never has direct access to your phone number.


Shipt has high standard for their personal shoppers. They go through an extensive interview process looking for those they believe will be the best shoppers.


Be prepared to tip your personal shopper. You can either tip in cash or go online – the next time you log in, they ask you to rate your personal shopper and you can tip then.


There is no delivery fee unless your order is less than $35.


Shipt has a slight upcharge from typical groceries purchased in the store. You can expect to pay about $5 more on a $35 order.


Price check: 


Milk: $2.09


1 dozen large eggs: $1.29


Wheat bread: $1.49




A twist on grocery delivery (as in there’s no actual delivery), this grocery service is offered through Mariano’s. Like with the other services, you order online and pick a delivery time and a Mariano’s shopper picks out your groceries from the store. Then at a pre-selected time, stop by Mariano’s, park in the designated spot, call the phone number, and in a few minutes, out come your groceries. It’s so simple! I was able to swing by after work one day, keep my kids in the car and get home in plenty of time for dinner. Mom win!


What you need to know: 


There is a $4.95 service fee each time you place an order, but no membership is required. Use whenever you want – no commitment required! This fee is waived for the first order.


Tipping isn’t permitted.


Your pick-up time is a half-hour time slot of your choosing, but there are limited slots (so that you don’t have to wait).


Food prices are the same as in the store.


We even received a special treat of two chocolate chip cookies, which made my boys very happy!


Price check:


Milk: $3.35


1 dozen large eggs: $1.75


Wheat bread: $1.89




I was SUPER excited when I heard that Instacart was offering delivery on Aldi groceries! This service was just released at the beginning of March and I couldn’t wait to try it out. Aldi is our family’s go-to grocery store for all of our staple items due to the low cost of items, but Instacart also offers grocery delivery from other stores including Mariano’s, CVS, Petco, Jewel-Osco (new), Whole Foods and Kriser’s Natural Pet (I haven’t had the chance to try all of those out yet!). Instacart works like some of the other delivery services – you create your list online and a personal shopper picks out your groceries and delivers them to your house. I created my list on a Sunday afternoon, submitted it, and two hours later, I had my groceries!


What you need to know: 


There is no required membership for Instacart and delivery is $5.99 for orders over $35. If you choose to sign up for Instacart Express for $149, you get free delivery. (This brings the delivery fee down to $2.87 if you used it every week for a year.)


The website is a little confusing to use, and I had a hard time putting my coupon code in. I finally figured out it out, but head’s up – it’s not where you check out, as most coupon code places would be.


Be sure to take advantage of the personal notes section when ordering. My personal shopper did not seem to know Aldi that well, which I found surprising. If it is potentially hard to find an item in Aldi (because it is a discount grocery store), leave a note as to where/how to find it.


My personal shopper didn’t seem to be as qualified as the Shipt shopper, and it was quite frustrating at times. Some of this was because it was my first time using Instacart, and there is a learning curve. But my personal shopper could not find a few items that I know to be staples at Aldi, such as 1 percent milk. When this happens, the shopper suggests a replacement. In my case, the replacements weren’t acceptable, so I denied them and was refunded.


While you do receive text messages throughout the grocery delivery process, they are not directly from your shopper. They seem to be more “alerts” from your shopper.  I later realized that you can send a message to your shopper through the app.


There is an upcharge to use Instacart Aldi services, but it’s not too bad. We determined that on average there is a 20 cent increase, but not on all items. Some items had no price difference while others had a 20-50 cent increase. Fruit had a greater increase; grapes were $1 more.


Our grocery bill was about $10 more using Instacart delivery than shopping ourselves.


Tipping is allowed and can be given in person or sent through the app before or after delivery.  There is also a “service fee” which you can edit or even delete, but this does not go to your personal shopper. The website says, “This fee helps us operate Instacart and provide you with the best service possible.”


Price check: 


Milk: $1.99


1 dozen large eggs: $1.89


Wheat bread: $0.89


The verdict? I really loved using these grocery services! It did take some time to figure out the system initially (and they are all slightly different), but it felt like I got time back that would have otherwise been spent in a grocery store. The prices are higher than my own more cost-conscious trips, but at times it is worth it to spend more money for the convenience (in my opinion). I used Peapod and Amazon Fresh after I was out of town, short on time and desperately in need of groceries. The convenience of having groceries magically arrive early the next morning waiting on my doorstep was well worth it, and made the re-entry from vacation so much easier!


For the most part, I’m likely to stick with our trips to the grocery store (my husband is my best grocery delivery service), but soccer season is coming and life keeps getting busier each week. I’m guessing that during those busy times we will probably rely on some of these grocery delivery services to help us through. Because, as they say, time is money.


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