5 online grocery delivery services that make life easier for New Yorkers - and how their offerings, prices, and promotions compare

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5 online grocery delivery services that make life easier for New Yorkers - and how their offerings, prices, and promotions compare
  • Online grocery delivery services like FreshDirect and Instacart offer comparable product variety and prices as your favorite grocery store, with the added bonus of convenient and affordable delivery.
  • Read about their different shopping experiences, promotions and rewards programs offered, and more below.
  • Due to the novel coronavirus and a New York state mandate for all non-essential workers to stay at home, many online grocery delivery services are experiencing delays fulfilling and shipping orders, as well as low inventory for household essentials, cleaning supplies, and shelf-stable pantry items. Be sure to keep those factors in mind if you're putting in an order.
  • Many online grocery delivery services have also updated their policies to reduce social interactions, support the shopper community, and more.
  • Read more: The best meal kit delivery services

In New York City, a city of 8.6 million people, it's usually already tough enough to navigate the crowds to shop fresh produce, packaged foods, and household essentials.

When everyone else has the same brilliant idea to shop after work or on weekends, grocery shopping in person becomes a major time, energy, and money suck that doesn't seem worth it (and undoubtedly contributes to an uptick in Grubhub and Seamless orders).

Now that a new state mandate requires all non-essential workers in New York to stay at home starting the evening of March 22 due to the novel coronavirus, brick-and-mortar grocery stores will come under even more strain and experience an increase in shopping activity as people prepare to hole up in their homes for extended periods of time.

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Enter online grocery delivery, the service that helps us maintain our sanity in a world where we already have enough things on our mind and to check off on our to-do lists. And during this time, where they also help us maintain distance and unnecessary social contact.

There are a handful of major grocery delivery services that are available nationwide or serve New York City inhabitants specifically, all with different shopping experiences, delivery-fee structures, and special promotions. Read on to learn which one is best for you.

Here are the 5 best online grocery delivery services in New York City:

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FreshDirect: The best balance of value, convenience, variety, and ease of shopping

FreshDirect: The best balance of value, convenience, variety, and ease of shopping

Note: As of 3/20/20, FreshDirect announced a warehouse team member tested positive for COVID-19. A statement from the brand reads, "This team member is not involved in food preparation or making deliveries. The employee has not been in the facility since March 12th when they reported feeling unwell early in their shift." FreshDirect has deep cleaned its facility and the employee is now self-isolating.

To accommodate increased demand, FreshDirect is adding timeslots and restocking products, but keep potential delays and shortages in mind if you choose to shop at FreshDirect. It is providing touchless deliveries on all orders and will not be collecting reusable bags.

Additionally, FreshDirect is giving shoppers the option to donate to NY Common Pantry, whose mission is to reduce hunger and promote dignity, health, and self-sufficiency in New York City's most vulnerable communities. The recent concern over coronavirus has impacted NYCP's volunteer base.

How it works: Create a free account in under a minute, then start shopping and adding items to your cart. The site is organized clearly into different categories, and it makes it easy to create shopping lists and re-order your frequently shopped items.

For a morning or early afternoon delivery (two-hour time slots), you must place your order by 6 p.m. the day before. For a late afternoon or evening delivery (two-hour time slots), you must place your order by 11 p.m. the day before.

FreshDirect also now offers same-day delivery in select New York zip codes. If you order by 1 p.m.

Fees:

  • Free to create an account
  • $5.99 delivery fee, with a minimum order of $30

Grocery offerings: FreshDirect gets its produce, dairy, and meat straight from the source, but it also carries popular grocery brands such as Pillsbury, Stonyfield Organic, and Boar's Head. You can find everything you normally shop at the store (including alcohol), whether you browse the categories, search exact items directly, or filter by labels like organic, kosher, and top-rated.

Price comparison:

  • Fuji apple: $1.75 each (organic only)
  • Boneless chicken breast: $5.99/lb
  • One dozen large white eggs: $3.49

Special programs and discounts: Chef's Table is FreshDirect's loyalty program. To become a member, you must place 12 orders or spend an average of $500 or more each calendar month during any three-month period. Benefits include preferred delivery access, dedicated service specialists, and exclusive discounts.

DeliveryPass membership gets you unlimited free deliveries. It costs $79 for six months or $129 annually, and if you're a frequent customer, it'll save you on the fees that can add up quickly.

You can also check out the Fresh Deals, coupons, and sale sections to save on products every week.

Peapod: The best shopping assistants, rewards programs, and discounts

Peapod: The best shopping assistants, rewards programs, and discounts

Note: As of 3/20/20, Peapod says, "Online shoppers may be experiencing delays on our website as well as with our delivery times due to high demand." We recommend checking with your local Stop & Shop about specific stock levels before placing an order online.

Stop & Shop has temporarily suspended its online pickup service until further notice. Home delivery customers can now request "unattended delivery," in which shoppers will drop orders at your front door.

For customers ages 60 years and older, Stop & Shop now has designated shopping times of 6:00 a.m.-7:30 a.m. every day. During this time, only members of this age group may shop in the store.

How it works: Create a free account, then start shopping and adding items to your cart. You can browse by aisle and curated categories, or take advantage of features like Order Genius and Express Shop. Order Genius analyzes your past purchases to recommend products you'll like, and Express Shop quickly generates product results for you based on your grocery list.

Peapod offers special discounts of up to $5 off during certain two-hour delivery slots throughout the week, so if you're flexible with when you receive your order, take advantage of this feature. It also lets you schedule deliveries up to two weeks in advance.

Fees:

  • Free to create an account
  • Free to pick up orders in select areas
  • $9.95 delivery fee on orders of $30-$75
  • $7.95 delivery fee on orders of $75-$100
  • $6.95 delivery fee on orders of $100 or more

Grocery offerings: Peapod carries a large assortment of your favorite brands as well as its own in-house brand. The organic selection is robust, and its seasonal curations are also worth a look.

Price comparison:

  • Fuji apple: $0.75/ea
  • Boneless chicken breast: $2.99/lb
  • One dozen large white eggs: $1.99

Special programs and discounts: First-time customers get $20 off and free delivery on their first order, as well as free delivery on subsequent orders of $60+ for the first 60 days. In addition to weekly promotions, these programs help you save money:

PodPass is a program that saves on monthly delivery fees. The best value option is a $55/year pass that's valid for Tuesday through Thursday deliveries.

Stop & Shop store members should connect their account to Peapod to earn gas and school rewards.

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Instacart: The best place to shop local markets and shop as a group

Instacart: The best place to shop local markets and shop as a group

Note: As of 3/20/20, Instacart is experiencing higher-than-normal demand. Delivery times may be limited and some items may be out of stock. It has rolled out a "Leave at My Door Delivery" feature to all customers. You'll receive a photo confirmation from your shopper once your groceries have been delivered.

The company also sent out an email to customers urging them to consider tipping above and beyond to reflect the extra efforts of their shoppers to keep up with the demand for home delivery since the coronavirus outbreak was declared a public health emergency.

How it works: Instacart brings together local supermarkets on one platform. Create a free account, then choose your store to start shopping. In New York, options include Costco, Fairway, Whole Foods, Morton Williams, and CVS.

The platform allows you to select back-up items in case the ingredient you want is sold out or unavailable, and you'll have a dedicated shopper who communicates with you via text to let you know when items aren't available or when they've been swapped.

Delivery is available in as little as an hour, but you can also schedule it up to a week in advance. Delivery fees may increase during popular times of the week and delivery hours depend on your local store hours.

Instacart is a great grocery delivery option for groups like apartment roommates or families because you can create group carts to shop together.

Fees:

  • Free to create an account
  • Delivery fees depend on the size of your order and the delivery time you choose. There is a minimum order amount of $10.

Grocery offerings: The online prices can differ from in-store prices, but you can find each store's policy regarding price adjustments under the store name.

Price comparison:

  • Fuji apple: Varies by individual store
  • Boneless chicken breast: Varies by individual store
  • One dozen large white eggs: Varies by individual store

Special programs and discounts: Instacart compiles each store's coupons on to the store page so they're easy to find and use.

Instacart Express is a $99 annual membership for free delivery and reduced service fees on all orders of $35 or more. You can take advantage of a free two-week trial before committing to the program.

AmazonFresh: The best way to get groceries from Whole Foods

AmazonFresh: The best way to get groceries from Whole Foods

Note: As of 3/20/20, AmazonFresh is experiencing limited availability on some products and delivery may be temporarily unavailable. Please keep this in mind if you plan on placing an order and confirm availability at checkout.

How it works: Only Prime members (sign up for a free trial here) are eligible to use Amazon's grocery delivery service. Once you've added AmazonFresh to your account, you can start shopping.

There are two types of delivery available: Attended and Doorstep. Attended Delivery is a one-hour slot where you receive your order in a paper bag, while Doorstep Delivery is a two- to three-hour time slot where your order is dropped off in temperature-controlled totes.

Fees:

  • Free membership with a Prime account
  • $9.99 delivery fee on orders under $50
  • Free delivery on orders of $50 or more
  • Free to pick up orders in select areas

Grocery offerings: The biggest advantage of using AmazonFresh is the ability to shop Whole Foods Market produce and prepared foods. If you like the organic and natural options at Whole Foods, it's easy to get them through AmazonFresh. The Local Market category highlights local makers like Maple Hill Creamery, Tate's, and Junior's Cheesecake.

Price comparison:

  • Fuji apple: $0.76/ea
  • Boneless chicken breast: $4.14/lb
  • One dozen large white eggs: $2.48

Special programs and discounts: Coupons change often and are available across categories in the Fresh Deals section.

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FoodKick: The best NYC-focused, same-day delivery experience

FoodKick: The best NYC-focused, same-day delivery experience

Note: As of 3/20/20, a new statement on FoodKick's website says it is experiencing very high demand and long customer waits. Service agents do not have access to timeslots beyond those visible to you, and you can use the "request a credit" tool on the Help page to report any missing or damaged items.

Like FreshDirect, FoodKick is also giving shoppers the option to donate to NY Common Pantry, whose mission is to reduce hunger and promote dignity, health, and self-sufficiency in New York City's most vulnerable communities. The recent concern over coronavirus has impacted NYCP's volunteer base.

How it works: Create a free account in under a minute or sign in with your FreshDirect account information (they're sister companies), then start shopping and adding items to your cart. Browsing and navigation on the site encourage discovery rather than deals.

If you need your groceries quickly and hate waiting at home during two-hour delivery slots, FoodKick provides the solution — you can get delivery within an hour, and it offers plenty of one-hour slots throughout the day.

Fees:

  • Free to create an account
  • $4.99 delivery fee, with a minimum order of $30
  • $5.99 one-hour delivery fee, with a minimum order of $30

Grocery offerings: FreshDirect's sister service is a more curated and localized grocery shopping experience. It offers a wide variety of categories, but there are fewer options within each category, they tend towards smaller brands, and we found they tend to be more expensive than the options at other grocery services. FoodKick only currently serves New York City (Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens), so you can find city favorites like Doughnut Plant and Baked by Melissa.

Price comparison:

  • Fuji apple: $1.12/ea
  • Boneless chicken breast: $6.99/lb
  • One dozen large white eggs: $3.29

Special programs and discounts: First-time customers get 30 days of free delivery.

Like with FreshDirect, DeliveryPass membership with FoodKick ($9.99/month) gets you unlimited free deliveries. If you're a frequent customer, it'll save you on the fees that can add up quickly. If you're already a DeliveryPass member through FreshDirect, deliveries are only $2 per order.