Although grocery prices have gone crazy, you don’t have to pay the inflated prices at your local supermarkets. Online shopping has brought transparency to your home and apparel purchases, with the ability to easily track and compare prices. Similarly, you use online shopping to save on your grocery purchases too.
Of course, this means no cruising the aisles to see what looks good or grabbing a pack or two off the holiday displays. But this just means you’re less likely to impulse buy. Not only will you pay less for groceries, but you’ll also buy less too.
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What are the cheapest options for grocery shopping online?
Ordering groceries online can be much cheaper than you realize, and even a great option for fresh produce, dairy, eggs, meat, and just about any item you would find at your local market.
Here are the best online grocery options.
1. Misfit Market
Save up to 40% on your groceries when you shop online at Misfits Market. This includes produce, fresh meat and seafood, dairy, bakery goods, and pantry items. Food is delivered to your doorstep.
Misfits Market’s goal is to rescue perfectly delicious food and prevent it from going to waste. They sell grocery goods that cannot be sold in conventional supermarkets for various reasons like imperfectly shaped or “ugly” produce and packaged foods that are headed for the trash. This can be packaged foods that are nearing their “Best by” date, outdated packaging (design updates), or incorrect packaging (UPC code is wrong or missing).
Misfits Market is a weekly grocery delivery service (starting at $35 per week), but you can customize your order (there’s a 2-3 day window when you order the groceries from the available inventory) and you can skip a delivery when needed. Misfit Markets is available in 46 of 50 states and Washington DC.
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Boxed is an online wholesaler that sells bulk-sized groceries and household essentials to consumers. Boxed has been compared to Costco, but Boxed has no membership fees and delivers directly to your doorstep.
Some items are more expensive than your local grocery store, but many items are cheaper. Boxed offers complete transparency on products sold and their pricing so it’s easy to compare.
You can save 20% off your first order with this Swagbucks promo code for Boxed, and earn 1% cash back on your grocery purchase. Out of over 200 member reviews, Boxed has an average score of 4.7 out of 5 stars.
3. Thrive Market
Thrive Market is an online grocery store that sells organic food, bath, beauty, and household items at up to 50% off retail.
Membership is $5 a month and gives you access to high-quality, organic products at significant savings compared to your local grocery store. In fact, Thrive has a low-price promise. If you find the same price cheaper somewhere else, Thrive will beat their price.
Thrive sells food, home, beauty, and bath products in quality brands customers know like Annie’s, Larabar, Seventh Generation, Mrs. Meyers, Dr. Bronner’s, Burt’s Bees, 88 Acres, Cascadian Farm, Chobani, and hundreds more. Thrive has lots of options for vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, keto, paleo, or allergy-sensitive customers.
4. Imperfect Foods
Imperfect Foods is an online grocery shopping service on a mission to offer quality fresh foods for everyone, regardless of their zip code, and to eliminate food waste.
Imperfect Foods sells fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, and poultry. They sell the funny-looking foods that supermarkets refuse to take. Thus they follow the “waste” – wherever there are “ugly” fruits and vegetables or surplus foods that can’t be sold, Imperfect Foods will rescue these items and sell them to you much cheaper than standard grocery store prices.
Imperfect Foods is cheaper than your local supermarket, but not quite as cheap as Misfit Foods. Additionally, Imperfect Foods is not available everywhere. It’s mainly offered on the West and East coast and some select Midwest zip codes.
A benefit of Imperfect Foods, however, is there is no minimum order cost and no required subscription. Shipping fees are $4.99 to $8.99 depending on order size. Get free delivery on orders of $60+.
5. Amazon Fresh
Add grocery delivery services to the long list of things Amazon drops off at your doorstep. Amazon Fresh has been around for a while now (it launched in Seattle in 2007), and offers a convenient way to get groceries delivered to your home. This includes a full spread of every grocery category you can think of. (This is a distinctly different service from the regular Amazon marketplace that sells pantry staples.)
Some items can be cheaper than your purchase at the local grocery store while other items do cost more. There is no delivery fee for Amazon Prime members but there is a minimum order requirement of $35.
In a recent comparison on Motley Fool, the price was compared for 8 staple grocery items from Amazon Fresh compared to the local supermarket. Two of the 8 items were cheaper on Amazon; the other 6 items were more expensive. Overall, Amazon Fresh was 7% more than the local grocery store.
You can focus your shopping efforts on the goods that are cheaper with Amazon Fresh. But even if you shifted most of your grocery shopping to Amazon Fresh, you’ll probably still come out ahead. Shopping online, from home, you’re more in a planning mindset. You’re not going to purchase impulse items in-store or fill up the tank to drive to the store.
Amazon Fresh is free for prime members. If you’re not a member, you can get $15 free cash back on your membership with this Amazon promo code on Swagbucks.
Weee delivers Asian and Hispanic groceries to your doorstep. This includes produce, eggs, and other fresh grocery items.
Weee offers unique, specialty items you won’t find anywhere else – including your local ethnic food market. This includes pre-marinated beef for bulgogi (Korean BBQ), Japanese Hamachi, duck eggs, canned Taro, spicy tofu, and hundreds of best-selling quick noodle brands.
Weee! also sells home, health, beauty, and self-care items – including makeup, Korean face masks, and cleaning products. You can also shop for products by country of origin, including the US, Japan, South Korea, or China.
Available products and their pricing are very transparent. No membership is required to join, but the VIP membership does offer perks. With the 1-year membership (fee priced at $99), you can earn 5% cash back (reward points) for grocery purchases and free delivery on orders of $49+.
For non-members, get free delivery on orders of $69+. For any order below the free-shipping minimum, there is a $5 flat-rate delivery fee.
Is Instacart Cheaper?
Instacart offers convenience and familiarity, but items are priced an average 24% higher than items in-store.
Local grocery stores partner with the Instacart app to bring fresh groceries to your doorstep from your preferred neighborhood supermarket. Place your order online, and groceries are picked up and delivered by an Instacart (contract worker) shopper.
In most instances, Instacart does charge more for a grocery store item in its app than what you would pay in-store. For example, a bunch of bananas priced at $1.79 inside of StoreMart might be priced at $2.25 when you order from StoreMart through Instacart.
Additionally, tips are recommended and they factor heavily into your driver’s earnings. Instacart recommends a tip of 10% to 20%.
Some items on Instacart may be priced similarly to what you’ll find in stores, and you’re not wasting money on impulse buys in the stores or having to drive to the store. For some items, Instacart can be a reasonable option for the price. But closeness, quickness, and convenience are where Instacart really shines.
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Is it cheaper to have groceries delivered?
It can be cheaper to have groceries delivered if you order from discount grocery delivery services like Misfit Markets or Imperfect Foods.
More often, the per-item cost is higher to have groceries delivered to your home. There are additional costs involved to have a driver bring you the goods. If you can find a delivery service where app prices are comparable to in-store, it can be a cheaper option.
With grocery delivery, you are not tempted by impulse buys in store and you’re not spending time and money to have to drive to the store. Personally, I save money when I’m not drawn in by all the bakery displays at the supermarket.
Does it cost more to grocery shop online?
It can cost less to grocery shop online when you use discount grocery delivery services like Misfit Markets or Imperfect Foods. These companies rescue food that would otherwise be wasted, like produce that is oddly shaped or goods in old packaging. They take food items that grocery stores reject and sell them to the consumer. The food is rescued from landfills and you can save money on perfectly delicious food. And the bent-up-twisted squash can be a real conversation starter, too.
Which app gives the cheapest groceries?
If you’re comparing Ship, Instacart, and Amazon Fresh, Amazon Fresh has the cheapest groceries. Prime members get free delivery on orders (there is a $35 minimum order requirement).
For ethnic groceries (specifically Hispanic or Asian), Weee! is the cheapest grocery app. Their selection and prices will beat what you can find in local grocery chains.
Can you use EBT on Instacart?
Yes, you can use EBT on Instacart for items that have been marked EBT-eligible. (SNAP is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and EBT is the Electronic Benefits Transfer card used to make qualifying grocery purchases. EBT cannot be used for non-food, household products.
Amazon Fresh also accepts EBT payments.
Boxed, Thrive, Misfit Market, Imperfect Foods, and Weee are popular grocery delivery services that do not accept EBT.
How else can I save on groceries?
There are other ways to save on groceries, too.
Meal planning cuts out extra costs because you are planning your meals in advance. You buy groceries more intentionally and avoid food waste. Additionally, you can build your meals around featured items set at especially low prices.
Get a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box. This is a weekly or bi-weekly subscription service to receive local produce based on what the local farm has harvested. Typically, you will need to drive somewhere to pick up your order and this is offered during outdoor growing season months. Also, the jury is split on whether or not CSA boxes are really cheaper. What people love (or hate) is the unexpected surprises you get in CSA boxes. You’ll discover vegetables you didn’t know existed. And you need to eat things quickly before they spoil.
Order groceries online to earn cash back rebates and then pick up in-store. Swagbucks offers cash back for online purchases at over 10,000 stores and this includes your favorite stores for groceries too.
Featured cash back grocery stores (also offering coupons!) include:
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