0 9 mins 2 weeks

In an earlier edition of We Do the Math, I calculated whether it’s cheaper to buy groceries in the store or have them delivered. Ordering your weekly groceries online is a clear time-saver and more convenient, and, as it turns out, isn’t much more expensive, either. Amazon, Target and Walmart are three of the most budget-friendly grocery retailers in the US, and since each one offers national delivery to most zip codes, I set out to find out which of the three is the cheapest place to buy groceries online. 

To do so, I priced out a typical grocery list from all three stores and factored in any delivery or membership fees that apply. 

In the end, Walmart nabs the top (or is it bottom?) spot as the cheapest place to buy groceries online; it’s about 10% cheaper than Target and 18% cheaper than Amazon Fresh. While the bottom-line cost might not be the only factor you consider when choosing an online grocery service — quality selection and freshness certainly count for something — if you’ve been wondering which store has the cheapest online groceries, now you have an answer. 

Read on for a full breakdown of online grocery prices at Walmart, Target and Amazon Fresh including how I did the math and some key takeaways. 

Amazon, Target and Walmart compared

Walmart Target Amazon Fresh
Total before extras $137.10 $153.34 $165.66
Monthly membership fee $13.00 $11.00 $15.00
Total: $150.10 $164.34 $180.66

How I did the math 

To find the cost of buying groceries online at these three retailers, I first generated a list of 37 popular grocery items — some name brands, some generic — on the same day and in every grocery category including bread, snacks, dairy, produce, meat, fish, beverages and pantry staples. I mostly avoided specialty items and organic ingredients for this exercise. For each product, I chose the cheapest available option from all three retailers: Amazon Fresh, Target and Walmart.

If an item wasn’t available at one retailer, I selected the next closest thing, since that’s what a shopper would likely do. In some cases, a product was only available in a larger or smaller size. In those instances, I prorated the amount and price to ensure it was an even cost comparison.

Cheapest online grocery delivery services

Walmart Target (Shipt) Amazon Fresh
Eggs/dairy:
Brown eggs (12) $4.87 $5.19 $2.98
2% milk (1 gallon) $3.08 $3.89 $4.39
Almond milk (1/2 gallon) $2.44 $2.99 $4.00
Block Cabot cheddar cheese (8 oz) $2.98 $3.19 $4.29
Plain yogurt (32 oz) $2.36 $3.79 $3.29
Subtotal: $15.73 $19.05 $18.95
Bread and snacks:
Loaf of 7-grain bread $2.38 $3.99 $4.00
Thomas’ English muffins (pack of 6) $3.48 $3.49 $4.69
Club crackers (13.7 oz) $3.38 $3.99 $4.79
Subtotal: $9.24 $11.47 $13.48
Produce:
Broccoli head (1 lb) $1.38 $4.11* $1.99
One pound bag red potatoes (1 lb) $1.18 $1.30 $1.00
Package of mixed greens (5 oz) $2.98 $3.69 $4.14
Hass avocado (1) $0.88 $0.99 $0.99
Bag of carrots (1 lb) $1.24 $1.29 $1.00
Bag of yellow onions (1 lb) $1.05 $1.30 $0.93
Subtotal: $8.71 $12.68 $10.05
Pantry:
Bottle of Heinz Ketchup (32 oz) $4.28 $4.99 $4.28
Jar Hellman’s Mayo (20 oz) $5.48 $6.29 $7.49
White rice (2 lb) $1.62 $0.95 $1.99
Chicken stock (32 oz) $1.33 $1.99 $2.79
Ground Starbucks coffee (12 oz) $14.92 $10.00 $8.90
Peanut butter (16 oz) $1.84 $1.69 $3.19
Seltzer (8) $3.28 $3.99 $4.49
Barilla penne pasta (16 oz) $1.84 $2.19 $1.99
Prego pasta sauce (24 ounce) $2.24 $2.89 $3.69
Canned dog food (12.5 oz) $1.88 $1.79 $1.67
Subtotal: $38.71 $36.77 $40.48
Snacks:
Box of Cheerios (18 oz) $4.78 $5.49 $4.78
Bag of cape cod potato chips (8 oz) $3.68 $3.99 $4.59
Corn chips (11 oz) $2.48 $2.29 $2.49
Chewy granola bars (box of 8) $2.44 $2.99 $3.98
Breyer’s ice cream (1 quart) $4.97 $5.79 $5.99
Simply Orange juice (52 oz) $3.98 $4.59* $5.29
Subtotal: $22.33 $25.14 $27.12
Meats/fish:
Ground beef (1 lb) $3.98 $6.29* $4.66
Atlantic salmon (1 lb) $10.98 $10* $12.00
Bone-in chicken (3 lb) $3.96 $5.07 $6.96
Organic chicken breast (1 lb) $6.68 7.49* $13.79
Bacon (16 oz) $4.24 $4.89 $5.99
Plant-based beef (1 lb) $7.96 $9* $6.79
Morningstar Veggie burgers (4 pack) $4.58 $5.49 $5.39
Subtotal: $42.38 $48.23 $55.58
Total before extras: $137.10 $153.34 $165.66
Monthly membership fee: $13.00 $11.00 $15.00
Total: $150.10 $164.34 $180.66
*Denotes item not available for shipping

Why I chose these retailers

amazon fresh pickup grocery shopping

Amazon Fresh offers free delivery for members or in-store pickup, depending on your location.


James Martin/CNET

While there are other places to order groceries online, Amazon Fresh, Target (via Shipt) and Walmart are three of the most popular US grocers with a national presence and the option for online delivery. Other discount grocery chains like Costco and Aldi can be delivered using third-party apps such as Instacart, but Instacart marks groceries up about 10% so it’s not typically going to be your best budget option. (That said, shopping in bulk and in person at Costco can save you as much as $1,000 over the course of the year, potentially more if you become a Costco Executive member.)

What are the membership fees for Amazon, Walmart and Target?

All three retailers offer cost-effective monthly memberships that include unlimited free deliveries on orders of about $35 or more. Amazon Prime is $15 per month and includes free delivery for all Amazon products as well as Amazon Prime Video and some other perks. Walmart Plus is $13 per month or $98 for the year for unlimited free deliveries. Target’s Shipt is the cheapest of three memberships at $11 a month with no minimum delivery total to hit. All three offer free in-store pickup in some form, although Amazon has fewer locations than Walmart and Target.

Walmart was the cheapest in every category except one

walmart plus bags on steps

Walmart had the cheapest groceries across every category except one.


Walmart

Walmart is known for having the lowest prices of just about any national retail chain, and its reputation proved true in this analysis of online grocery costs. Walmart pretty much swept the field with the lowest total cost in every grocery subcategory except for one — pantry staples — where Target was cheaper by about $2. Many of Walmart’s cheapest items were courtesy of its in-house brand, Great Value. Target has an in-house brand of its own called Good & Gather, while Amazon sports a few generic brands including Amazon-branded groceries along with Happy Belly and 365 by Whole Foods, which is owned by Jeff Bezos’ Amazon.

Target doesn’t deliver all categories of groceries

shipt shopper in produce aisle

Target-owned Shipt will send groceries to your door in a matter of hours but there are some staples, including meat, not available for delivery.


Shipt

While I tried to use only items that were available for delivery, it wasn’t always possible. Target and its national shipping partner Shipt don’t have every grocery staple available for shipping, particularly fresh meats and some produce. If you want to shop for your full list of groceries at Target, you’re likely going to have to visit a brick-and-mortar location.

Are online grocery prices the same as in the store?

In general, Walmart and Target offer the same prices online as they do in brick-and-mortar locations, but not always. Sales items, in particular, are not always coordinated between online and in-store. Amazon Fresh is online-only, although many products on Amazon Fresh can also be found at Whole Foods. 

hungryroot box of groceries

Hungryroot is a cross between a grocery delivery service and meal kit company and encourages you to go rogue from the recipe.


Hungryroot

Other options for buying groceries online

Instacart is a popular national delivery service and functions as a third-party shopper and delivery outfit that allows you to order groceries from a selection of local supermarkets. You’ll essentially be paying the same prices as if you visited the store yourself, plus a $4 delivery fee and tip. 

Fresh Direct is another popular grocery delivery service and one of my favorites. It’s currently only available in the Northeast. The prices here are a bit higher than the three retailers I analyzed above, but the grocery selection and customer service are both excellent. 

Hungryroot is a quirky grocery delivery operation that functions differently than the others. With a subscription, you’ll get weekly deliveries of curated groceries based on your preferences and eating habits. Hungryroot gives meal kit suggestions and will send you the ingredients to make them if you so choose. 

Thrive Market is yet another members-only grocery service. Thrive has lots of high-quality and organic meats but no produce or dairy products. 

Boxed.com is a good place to find dry goods, pantry items and paper products at low prices but it’s not a full substitute for a grocery store since it lacks the fresh foods you would typically buy at a market. 

If you don’t mind getting your various groceries from different vendors, we’ve tested to find the best produce delivery servicesbest meat delivery services and even the best online fish and seafood markets for 2023. 



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *