There are lots of reasons to use delivery services. They can help you save time from your busy schedule by outsourcing the work of grocery shopping—or even cooking—to someone else. And sometimes you just don’t want to get dressed, hop in the car, and head to your local grocery store or favorite restaurant.
Not all delivery services are created equal, however. Depending on where you live, your budget, and your dietary needs, you might find that some of these food, grocery, and meal kit delivery services are better suited for your household than others. We’ll be comparing the most popular apps in three categories to find out which ones offer the best overall value.
Food Delivery Services
- Uber Eats
Let’s start with food delivery services. It seems almost quaint now to remember a time when some restaurants had their own in-house delivery drivers. While pizza chains remain some of the few holdouts, many restaurants now accept orders from at least one of the major delivery apps.
Grubhub pulled ahead of the competition in a comparison test by Kiplinger. They found that the app provided the “fastest, cheapest delivery.” Like most of the food delivery apps on this list, Grubhub offers a premium subscription that allows you to access free delivery and reduced service fees. You can also earn Perks as you order, which can be cashed in for future rewards. However, there’s one major issue at play that you should be aware of before signing up for a Grubhub Plus account. As reported by multiple outlets today, Grubhub’s parent company is in serious financial trouble. Despite partnering with Amazon to offer Prime members free delivery, the company is struggling and will likely be put up for sale. While that might not have an impact on subscribers, it’s also possible that things will change if a new owner buys the company.
DoorDash is the most popular food delivery app, according to a 2019 report by Fortune. The company boasts over 300,000 restaurants on its roster, from national chains to local favorites. The average delivery time is 40 minutes, but that could vary depending on a wide range of factors. DoorDash also offers “DashPass,” which functions exactly like Grubhub Plus.
Uber Eats is the food delivery arm of the popular ridesharing app. The app is constantly pushing promotions, including restaurant-specific discounts and general offers. Currently, the company’s Uber One program—a premium subscription service that applies to both food delivery and rides—is available at a steep discount through a partnership with PayPal.
Postmates was actually purchased by Uber in 2020, but the company still operates independently. Unfortunately, that does mean Postmates has lost some of its brand identity. Uber, like Grubhub, consistently loses money year after year. The lack of competition also means that there are fewer options for both restaurants and diners.
Which service should you use? If you use Uber’s ride-sharing service as well as its food delivery, then your best value might be an Uber One pass. However, you may find that your favorite restaurants are only available on some of these apps, so that might be a deciding factor. Regardless, it will always be less expensive—often significantly less expensive—to order directly from a restaurant and pick the food up yourself.
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Grocery Delivery Services
- Walmart Grocery
Grocery delivery services have been increasing in popularity. People who use the service enjoy the amount of time it saves them, especially if they have children or other dependents in their household. It’s also helpful for people who tend to overspend at the grocery or who have trouble remembering to buy everything on their lists.
Instacart is one of the biggest grocery delivery apps. One-off delivery fees start at $3.99 for same-day orders over $35, but fees can add up depending on the distance traveled, the size of your cart, and other factors that are beyond your control. One way to cut down on fees is to use your Chase credit card, which announced a new program that offers $15 a month back when you shop on the grocery delivery app. You can also buy a membership to Instacart+ for $9.99 a month or $99 a year, which offers reduced service fees and a 5% credit on qualifying pickup orders. However, you’ll also be paying a 5% service fee out of pocket on every order.
Shipt is one of Instacart’s main competitors, but it’s not available everywhere in the US. Membership costs $10.99 a month (or $99 a year), while a one-time order carries a $10 delivery fee. Unlike Instacart, a premium membership with Shipt will eliminate your delivery fees. Shipt also shops at a wider variety of stores beyond just groceries. Both services may have higher prices than those on the store shelves, and you might not be able to take advantage of sales, coupons, or discount cards when you have someone else buy your groceries.
Walmart recently changed its delivery model by rolling its in-home delivery service into the Walmart+ membership. That’s great news if you were already using Walmart+ to get free shipping on items delivered to your house. However, the base price for the service is $12.95 a month or $98 a year—and that doesn’t include grocery delivery. It’ll cost an extra $7 monthly ($40 a year) to access that service. If you only used Walmart for grocery delivery, you might be frustrated by what appears to be a price hike. However, it’s worth noting that you’ll also be able to access membership fuel prices at Sam’s Clubs and you’ll never pay more than in-store prices—that’s not a guarantee with the other services on this list.
Which service should you use? Your favorite grocery store may only offer one of them, so that could make the decision for you. If you already regularly shop at Walmart, then the membership there is a great value.
Before last year, Amazon Prime would have been featured on this list. After acquiring Whole Foods, the company began offering Prime members free delivery from their local store. Amazon Prime no longer grants members free Whole Foods delivery as of last year—it now costs $9.95 plus tip. Shoppers were so upset that they actually filed a pair of lawsuits against Amazon last month! Ultimately, you might find that a Walmart membership makes more sense. However, you’ll miss out on Prime movies and TV shows.
Meal Kit Delivery Services
- Blue Apron
Meal kit delivery services occupy a space between grocery and food delivery. You still have to cook the food yourself, but the recipes come with pre-portioned ingredients. Let’s take a look at three of the most popular meal kits.
Blue Apron was one of the first meal kit delivery services. In fact, the company just celebrated its 10th anniversary this week. After a somewhat rocky period in early 2020, during which Blue Apron considered looking for a buyer, the company has rebounded. Like most meal delivery kits, the company has expanded to offer premium meals, such as the “Pan-Seared Strip Steaks & Rosemary-Butter Sauce with Arugula Salad & Garlic-Parmesan Potatoes” currently offered this week. The company also offers “Heat & Eat” meals that require zero prep.
HelloFresh offers similar recipes to Blue Apron, but this meal kit delivery service caters to a wider variety of diets. The company recently introduced an option to switch out the protein in certain recipes—trading beef for chicken, for example, or adding meat to an otherwise vegetarian dish. You can also add on extra goodies like take-and-bake cinnamon buns, mini-cheesecakes, and salad mixes. Just be aware that they’re going to come at a premium price compared to the grocery store.
Sunbasket is unique among the meal kit delivery service scene for its commitment to healthy and sustainable cooking. Meals start at $9.99, which is on the high side for meal kits. However, most recipes feature organic ingredients, and many of them cater to specific diets including keto, vegan, and gluten-free. If you’re trying to cook healthier at home, then Sunbasket might be a good solution for you. It’s also helpful for folks who live in areas where it’s challenging to get fresh, organic produce. Like Blue Apron, Sunbasket also offers ready-to-eat meals that only need to be microwaved to put dinner on the table.
Are meal kit delivery services worth it? Sadly, these kits can save you time, but they are unlikely to save you money. When you add up the per-pound cost of the ingredients in each box, you’ll find that it’s considerably more expensive than most grocery stores. These kits cater to busy people who don’t want to go shopping or worry about what’s for dinner that night. They’re also helpful for people who are just learning to cook. They’re not the best option for one-person households, since most kits are shipped with a minimum of two servings per recipe and not all of them work for leftovers.
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