The pandemic driven shut downs and stay at home orders across the country have begun to ease up as of mid May. However interest in grocery delivery in Chicago has not.
Are you looking to order groceries and have them delivered for the first time? Or have you already tried grocery delivery but aren’t sure you are getting the best deal?
Here is a list of the seven best grocery delivery options in the Chicago area to help you make the right choice for your budget and your needs.
With each option there is an analysis to help you compare the total cost per $100 order. There is also a quick summary at the bottom of the page if you want to skip ahead using the table of contents.
Please let me know via the comments if you would like me to add more retailers.
Quick Note: As summer arrives in Chicago, farmers markets are opening across the area. Combine grocery delivery with a weekly trip to the farmers market. This can help you boost your intake of fresh and local fruits and veggies that you pick out yourself.
Is it safer to have groceries delivered? We cannot say there is zero risk from grocery delivery. The latest guidance suggests that the main risk of getting infected with COVID-19 is from person to person contact, not infected surfaces.
Viruses only get into your body if you touch your face before you wash your contaminated hands. The latest guidance also suggests we may get sick when we breathe in tiny airborne particles put into the air by an infected person nearby
Grocery delivery is great because you do not have to come into contact with surfaces in the store or other people from outside of home.
Even if the risk is low or hasn’t been fully understood yet, it makes sense to stay safe. Follow these safety tips and do your best to protect yourself.
Three Tips to Stay Safe With Home Grocery Delivery
Bring Everything Inside
Start by bringing all delivered bags and items into your house. Put them on the counter. Open up the bags to expose everything inside, then wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water.
Put Everything Away
With clean hands remove and put away each food item. Dispose of the bags and packaging then wash your hands again. Once everything has been put away and packaging is in the trash, clean your counters and other surfaces you may have touched.
Follow Basic Food Safety
Rinse your produce with cold water for several seconds before you eat it. Even if you eat a small amount of the virus it will be inactivated by the acid in your stomach. Heat generated from cooking likewise kills viral particles on produce.
While there may be a small level of risk with grocery delivery you can take steps to keep yourself and your family safe. Avoid contact with the delivery person. Wash your hands often, clean frequently touched surfaces, and rinse fresh produce to stay safe.
Seven Best Grocery Delivery Options in Chicago
Now on to our main topic. In the Chicago area, what are some of the best options for grocery delivery? I will cover seven local options.
Many retailers use Instacart as their online delivery platform. Accordingly, it makes sense to start with them in a review of Chicago area grocery delivery services.
1. Instacart Grocery Delivery
To use Instacart you have to create an account. It is super easy to create an account, just enter your email address and a password on the homepage. Then add your delivery address and you are ready to go.
You will see several retailers available to choose from depending on where you live. Upon entering my zip code the grocery delivery options included Mariano’s, Costco, Binny’s, Jewel, Fresh Thyme and Aldi.
One cool fact about Instacart is you can order from Costco without having a membership.
After you select a store and shop for your desired items you will be charged a $3.99 delivery fee and a 4.99% service fee. These fees are added in the cart.
With any Instacart order there is a $35 order minimum per retailer.
If you order alcohol the service fee is higher. It starts at $2 and can go as high as $10 for an order depending on how much you spend. Not sure why it has to scale but it does.
Based upon when you order you can select a two hour delivery window or opt for ‘within a given period of time’ delivery. Tips are optional for the driver but default to 5% in the cart.
An order with $100 of groceries from one retailer would end up costing you $113.98 including delivery, service fee, and a 5% tip. Tax may make this higher. Taxes vary by city so I left out taxes so true cost per vendor for just food, fees, and tip can be compared.
If you plan to order your groceries and home essentials online long term or order from multiple retailers you should look at Instacart Express. This service costs $99 per year.
Signing up removes the $3.99 delivery fee for every retailer. You would still incur service fees plus be asked to tip.
Doing the quick math, you would have to order from 25 retailers over the course of a year for this to make sense. Therefore if you plan to place a grocery order every week or prefer items from multiple stores in your area you should absolutely sign up for this option.
2. Jewel Grocery Delivery
Jewel offers home delivery or online ordering with store pick up. They use their own in store service for delivery or you can order Jewel through Instacart. However if you order with Instacart you’ll be subject to the higher fees listed above.
For Jewel home delivery you need to create an account with an email address and password on their website. You can then select contact free delivery where everything will be left on your doorstep.
A one or two hour delivery window will cost $5.95, a four hour delivery window goes down to $3.95.
There is a $30 order minimum.
As of writing there was a 24 hour lead time for delivery meaning the earliest delivery window was approximately one day out.
An order with $100 in groceries would cost you $110.95 including delivery fee and a 5% tip. You’d save $2 if you opt for a longer delivery time window so your total cost would go down to $108.95 with a little bit of advance planning.
Jewel Store Pick Up
If you would prefer to pick up groceries yourself Jewel offers this option at no added cost. You select a time you want to pick your order up, drive to the store and call when you are there.
An employee will place the order in your trunk. No contact is made with any store employees.
For store pick up there is also a $30 minimum but no extra fees.
This option had a wait time of two to three days when writing this article. I’m sure this varies depending on how busy your local store is.
Check often and plan ahead if you want to do store pick up. The great part is that this option will be the same cost as if you had gone into the store yourself. There are no extra fees are included.
3. Aldi Grocery Delivery
Aldi offers home delivery or store pick up per their website. Their delivery service immediately directs you to Instacart. Aldi does not have an independent service like Jewel does.
If you want to get grocery delivery from Aldi and you live in Chicago, you have to use Instacart.
This comparison becomes easy because you are just placing an order via Instacart. An order with $100 of groceries from Aldi would end up costing you $113.98 including delivery, service fee, and a 5% tip.
Aldi appears to offer in store pick up however the nearest pick up location was over 30 miles away from my house. This despite the fact that the nearest Aldi is less than 5 minutes away.
This mostly looks like an option if you live in northeast Illinois, closer to the Wisconsin border. There are no added fees for pick up if you live close enough to one to take advantage.
Important note about pick up; every time I tried to select pick up at the store no times were available. Delivery looks like the only option if you specifically want groceries from Aldi.
4. Target Grocery Delivery
Target home delivery is run by a company called Shipt whom the Target parent company owns. There is a $9.99 flat delivery fee per order and a $35 per order minimum for same day delivery. Order windows were available same day.
At checkout there is an option to have the shopper text you if an item is not available so you can select an alternative which is a nice touch.
Target is also offering a free 4 week trial of Shipt at no cost which waives the $9.99 delivery fee. After the trial period is up you will be charged $99 and get free delivery (subject to minimum order size) for the next year. As with Instacart, this may be a good option if you see yourself doing this long term.
An order with $100 of groceries would end up costing you $114.99 including delivery and a 5% tip.
Use The Target App For Store Pick Up
You may also drive up and have items brought out to your car for no added fee. The only stipulation here is orders for free store pick up must to be placed through the Target app. You will need to download it if you have not already.
Like Jewel, the final cost for store pick up will be the same as if you had gone shopping yourself.
5. Walmart Grocery Delivery
Walmart offers both delivery and store pick up. Delivery and pick up were several days out when I checked, the furthest of any retailer covered today.
The fee for delivery ranges from $7.95 to $9.95. Peak delivery times will be more expensive.
There is a $30 order minimum.
An order with $100 of groceries delivered during a non-premium time would end up costing you $114.95 including delivery and a 5% tip. You could save $2 per order if you choose a less busy time for delivery.
Walmart does also offer something similar to Instacart Express and the annual subscription to Target’s Shipt. For $98 you get free delivery from Walmart for for a year.
Walmart Store Pick Up
Contact free pick up at the store is offered for free. There was a fairly long wait time (several days) for Walmart store pick up when writing this article. Plan ahead if you want to use Walmart services.
6. Whole Foods/Amazon Grocery Delivery
If you are an Amazon Prime subscriber and live close to a Whole Foods you can get grocery delivery using Amazon Prime Now. There are no service or delivery fees. Anything sold at Whole Foods can be ordered.
We used this option when we went to Disney World in early 2020. We ordered some breakfast items and snacks and had them delivered to the hotel. The service was great.
One tip based upon my experience using Amazon Prime Now Whole Foods delivery. Be cautious which source you select items from.
When you search for a particular item sometimes there will be an option from Amazon and one from Whole Foods.
Depending on what you select you may not get to the $30 order minimum so ensure everything you choose is from Whole Foods if you plan to use this service.
Assuming you are an Amazon Prime subscriber, an order with $100 in groceries would cost you $105 including a 5% tip.
7. Meijer Grocery Delivery
The last grocery delivery option in the Chicago area to review today is Meijer. There is no order minimum order size for grocery delivery but you will be charged a $9.95 delivery fee.
Meijer is also the only retailer I found charging a fee of $4.95 for in store pick up. Meijer uses Shipt, the same company used by Target to fulfill online orders. An annual membership to Shipt would get you free delivery from Meijer for one year as well as from Target.
I found their online shopping platform to be much less user friendly than any of the other services listed above. It was much harder to navigate unless you know what you are looking for and want to take the time to search for each item.
An order with $100 of groceries would end up costing you $114.95 including delivery and a 5% tip.
When Is the Best Time to Order Groceries Online or for Delivery?
In terms of order availability, most stores seem to get deliveries of new inventory in the early morning. For this reason I recommend placing an order for delivery or pick up at the earliest available time.
If you assume orders are filled based upon pick up or delivery time, selecting the earliest available time would seem to ensure you get first pick of recently stocked items.
Cost of a $100 Grocery Delivery Order by Company
- Instacart $113.98
- Jewel $110.95 (goes down $2 if you can wait longer for delivery)
- Aldi $113.98 (you are ordering from Instacart)
- Target $114.99
- Walmart $114.95 (goes down $2 if you can wait longer for delivery)
- Whole Foods $105.00
- Meijer $114.95
However, these costs go down in same cases if you sign up for the annual service.
- Instacart $109.99
- Target $105.00
- Walmart $105.00
Jewel, Target and Walmart offer FREE online ordering with contact free store pick up. When you arrive at the store your order is simply placed in your trunk. If you need a very low risk way to get out of the house these services are worth a try.
Final Thought: What Is the Best Grocery Delivery Option in Chicago?
Whole Foods via Amazon Prime is the cheapest option per $100 order but may not be the best in terms of value.
If you are planning to have groceries delivered long term your best bet would be to sign up for Instacart Express for $99 per year.
Your cost per $100 order goes down and you can choose from multiple stores in your area, including Costco, at no added cost.
If you plan to be loyal to Target or Walmart and order exclusively from them it would be wise to pay for their unlimited delivery service instead.
Target, Jewel, and Walmart offer great value if you want to get out of the house and have a contact free pick up experience. The cost is the same as if you had shopped at the store yourself.
One last important consideration to think about. This is up to each individual, however I do believe you should tip well if you choose to use these services. Say thank you and ensure that people keep showing up to work and doing these jobs.
With some patience and flexibility many local retailers are making it easier than ever to shop for everything you need from home. To summarize, there are several great options for grocery delivery in the Chicago area.
While not risk free, take precautions including frequent hand washing and rinsing fresh produce. This way you can still keep your fridge and pantry stocked up with food and all the other items you need to ride out this pandemic.
For a $100 order, Whole Foods delivery is the cheapest if you are an Amazon Prime member. Jewel is the cheapest if you do not want to pay an annual fee. If you join their membership program, WalMart and Target are cheapest.
Generally you should tip between 5% and 10% of the total if you can afford it. The workers are putting themselves at risk by delivering you food, show them some appreciation if you can!