Food delivery in the time of coronavirus

Apr 2020

With everyone stuck at home I thought it might be a good idea to help review the abundance of food delivery options. From grocery delivery services to platforms that allow your favorite restaurants to deliver to your door, hopefully this post brings you a little clarity as you think about ordering food and evaluating the options that might work best for you and your family.

 Grocery Delivery Services:

Before coronavirus I would consider evaluating these services based on which offers the best deals to consumers and has the best customer service. However, given the current crisis even securing a timeslot and finding the items you are looking for can prove challenging. Still, here are some of my go-to grocery delivery recommendations.


Instacart focuses on stores in your local area, both chain stores and neighborhood markets. Here, you are assigned a dedicated shopper that you can correspond with as they are shopping your list in the store of your choice. All you have to do is start by creating a profile either online or via their app and input your zip code. From there you can select the stores in your vicinity that are offered on the platform. In my area alone there are 12 stores ranging from grocery stores, pet stores and drug stores available for shopping.

Pros: Instacart’s application is very easy to use and shop! I really like having the ability to communicate directly with my shopper in case I forgot an item or want to make a change to my initial order. Rather than being fulfilled by a warehouse and then shipped to you, Instacart shoppers are hand selecting your produce and in general take better care as they shop your list. If an item is low in stock, Instacart will ask if you would like to authorize a replacement product. You can also opt to not replace an item if it’s out of stock in which case the item is deducted from your bill.

Another pro is that you don’t have to be an Instacart member in order to use the platform. However, Instacart does have a membership program called Instacart Express (which is $9.99 a month or $99 per year) that allows you to receive unlimited free delivery for orders over $35.

Cons: The service fees are where the Instacart prices start to really add up. There’s a baseline $3.99 delivery fee on each order, but if you choose a more popular delivery slot, the fee can jump up to either $5.99 or $9.99. On top of the delivery fee, you’ll see a 5% service fee added to your order. In addition, it is expected that you tip the shopper through the platform.

Additionally, be prepared through Instacart to pay higher than in-store prices. That’s because Instacart has the individual stores determine the “Instacart price” and not always, but sometimes stores have inflated pricing for Instacart customers.

Amazon Fresh

AmazonFresh is a free service for Amazon Prime customers and offers a wide array of perishable items and ready-made meals with Prime delivery speed as long as you spend $50 on groceries. This service is not to be confused with Prime Pantry where you can order non-perishables and household items via Amazon. Instead, AmazonFresh focuses on produce, dairy, meats and other perishable items in addition to other pantry staples you can find in the grocery store.

Pros: You can’t beat the price-FREE (as long as you are an Amazon Prime member) which is a huge pro. Also, since Amazon owns Whole Foods, the produce is generally high quality and the ready-made offering is top notch.

Cons: You must be an Amazon Prime member to have access to AmazonFresh, so if you’re not already paying the $119 annual fee for Prime, you might be better off checking out one of the other grocery delivery services

Thrive Market

Thrive Market is an online grocer that sells natural and organic products at wholesale prices. On average 25-50% cheaper than what they sell in stores. Signing up is easy although you must purchase a membership to shop with Thrive. Memberships cost $60 a year or $9.95 a month — but they guarantee you’ll save enough to make up the cost of your membership. If you don’t save $60 in a year, they’ll credit the difference towards your next year of membership!

ProsThrive Market is great for those with dietary restrictions! You can sort and shop according to diets like keto, paleo, gluten free, vegan etc.…so you don’t have to worry about looking up the ingredients of every new product you might want to try.

Cons: One major downside to Thrive Market is the inability to shop for fresh produce and other perishable items. Your grocery box is packed and shipped through the mail, unlike other grocery delivery services that hand-deliver your items. The only exception is that you can buy boxes of meat for shipment, but only in large quantities, selecting six cuts of beef, chicken, or seafood. You can also buy whole turkeys or hams. If you do buy meat, it’ll ship frozen and separately from your nonperishables.


When you think of bulk shopping, big-box membership-oriented stores like Costco or Sam’s Club probably come to mind. If you’re looking to buy in bulk without having to pay for a membership fee than Boxed is a great option!

Non-perishable Boxed orders are assembled and shipped to you, and you’ll get free shipping on all orders over $49. If you’re looking to add perishable items to your grocery order, you can opt to buy through Boxed Express in certain locations. With Boxed Express, your order will be hand-delivered at a delivery time you choose upon checkout. BoxedExpress has a $20 minimum order, and there’s a $6.99 delivery fee for orders costing less than $65.

Pros: A major pro of Boxed is the no membership requirement. According to pricing experts Boxed prices match or beat big-box bulk stores like Costco. Also, for non-perishable orders (over $49) and for perishable orders (over $65) the free delivery is a huge plus!

Cons: Because items from Boxed Express come from a different source there is no way to combine the deliveries of your perishable and non-perishable goods. You can order them at the same time but expect two separate deliveries.

Restaurant Delivery Platforms:

Restaurant delivery platforms have been around for quite a while now and as a busy mom of two little ones, our household has been known to lean on these services even before this current crisis. The major difference now is that because so many restaurants have had to shift to carry out, the platforms have exploded with restaurants that you can order from. No longer does delivery just mean pizza! These platforms make it easy to order in when you are all cooked out.

GrubHub/ Seamless

You may have heard of GrubHub or Seamless as they have been around the longest in terms of restaurant delivery services. They are owned by the same company and their platforms are almost identical so for the sake of reviewing them I am grouping them as one entity. With Grubhub/ Seamless, simply download the app or visit the website to make a profile, enter your address and seconds later a list of restaurants that deliver to your home appears. You can sort the list by restaurants with the highest rating, price and even delivery speed if you’re in a hurry.

Pros: GrubHub/Seamless has a wide variety of restaurants on its platform and their customer service is pretty good as well. In case the driver or restaurant accidently forgets an item, you can email them, and they will refund your account. You also can’t beat the convenience!

Cons: Grubhub/Seamless isn’t the most transparent about fees associated with using the platform. While you can see during your search what the restaurant charges for delivery there is an extra fee assed at checkout for the platform (usually under 10%). That combined with a tip for the driver can make using the service expensive for many. Another note, recently during this coronavirus crisis restaurants have begun to protest GrubHub/Seamless for the fees they charge restaurants to use the platform in addition to what the end consumer pays. Some restaurants have taken themselves off the platform and encourage customers to contact them directly for delivery.


If you are already an Uber customer or familiar with ordering an Uber to take you to the airport, then this might be the service for you. With a few taps, you can place an order for immediate or scheduled delivery and track the order in real time. You can pay either with a credit card or through credits on your Uber account, and from within the app, you have the option to tip the person bringing you your food as well as leave instructions for contact-free food delivery.

Pros: UberEats is simple to use and having the ability to track your order in real time is a huge plus. Also, Uber is taking extra precautions because of COVID-19 and requiring their drivers to wear gloves and masks.

Cons: At least here in Michigan the restaurant options for UberEats seems more limited. Also, as mentioned above with GrubHub/Seamless, UberEats and other delivery platforms have been the subject of much criticism around the fees they charge the restaurants that utilize its platform. I saw one article that says the company takes a whopping 30% of the food bill from the restaurants. Good news though! As of last week, UberEats announced that they will suspend delivery fees for independently owned restaurants that are using their app.

Regardless of how you shop during this crisis, it is our hope that you stay safe and utilize the awesome power of technology and maybe even some of these services to meet your food delivery needs. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at


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