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If you’re like a lot of people, you may have a dislike of grocery shopping. I get it. It can be a huge hassle, and when the stores are busy, it seems like a gigantic waste of time. If only there was a better way, right?

These days, there is. Grocery subscription services are slowly, but surely, changing the landscape of grocery shopping. A 2017 report by Nielsen estimated that online grocery sales, including grocery subscription services, could grow to a $100-billion industry by 2025.

But this convenience can come with a pretty hefty price tag. So, is it ever worth it to sign up for one?

Here’s the skinny on grocery subscription services.

The Time Factor

One of the common reasons people sign up for a grocery subscription service is to save time. Whether you are single, married or have a family, there is no doubt a grocery subscription service can reduce the time you spend on this tedious task each week.

Just take a minute to think about how long it takes you to get to the store, drag out a cart, and spend time selecting the freshest fruits and vegetables you can find, not to mention all of the other items throughout the store.

Then you have to unload the cart so items can be weighed and scanned, pay your bill and wheel everything outside to your car.

Finally, you load your car. But you still aren’t done. You have to get everything home, unload the car and put it all away.

By the time you’re done, you’ve spent an average of 43 minutes just shopping, according to a survey by The Time Use Institute. That figure doesn’t include going to and from the store, paying and the other time-consuming parts of a grocery shopping trip.

Now multiply those shopping minutes by 1.5, because this is the average number of trips people make each week. You have spent an average of just over an hour doing only the shopping for the week.

It’s obvious that using a grocery subscription service can save you time. You still have to choose your meal plan. But, all you have to do is click a mouse and wait for it to show up on your doorstep.

The Cost

Prices for meal delivery services vary from company to company. However, most are comparable, especially after the introductory discounts have expired. Here’s a quick run-down of some of the most popular grocery subscription services and their costs.

Blue Apron

Blue Apron charges $9.99 per serving for each person on the two-person plan. The total for two meals per week on this plan is $47.95, including the shipping.

The family plan for Blue Apron provides meals for four people. Signing up for this plan reduces the price to $8.99 per serving or a total of $71.92 with free shipping.

Hello Fresh

The cost of Hello Fresh is very comparable to Blue Apron, except that they offer free shipping on both plans. Hello Fresh also offers an additional vegetarian plan for the same price as their classic, two-person, plan.

Sun Basket

A third option is Sun Basket. Their plans are a little more expensive than Blue Apron and Hello Fresh.

The Classic Menu serves two people, three times per week, for $71.94. If you are feeding a family, you will pay $79.92 to feed four people twice per week.

It is plain to see that the family plan is more economical no matter which company you choose. But if you are single, you would likely sign up for the two-person plan, which costs more per meal.

Alternatives to Grocery Subscription Services

If those meal plans seem expensive, maybe a different alternative could be better for your budget. Here are a few to check into.

Call Ahead Service

Some grocery stores, such as Safeway, Walmart and others, will allow you to call ahead and place your grocery order, or order online. Afterward, a worker will pull each item from the shelves to fulfill your order. Then all you have to do is pay and go pick it up at the front of the store. Some stores are also beginning to offer car-side delivery so you don’t even have to get out of your vehicle to pay and they’ll load your groceries for you.

Home Delivery

You may not have to pick up your groceries from all stores. But another alternative to ask about is delivery. There are some stores that have a delivery service, which will drop off your order at your home for a fee.

How to Save Time Doing Your Own Shopping

The high price of grocery subscription services and even the alternatives can be off-putting. If this is the case for you and you decide to continue doing your own grocery shopping, here are a few tips to help make your grocery shopping trips quicker.

Make a List

If you don’t shop with a list, you’re probably wasting time and money on things you don’t need. You’re more likely to give in to temptations and buy things that look good without a real plan of how to use them and incorporate them with things you already have to make a meal at home.

Map It Out

Don’t just make a list of what you need. If you really want to save time, put it in an order based on how your store is laid out. This way you won’t have to backtrack to get an item further down the list.

Shop at Off-Peak Times

Try going to the store at different times until you find one that’s less busy. For instance, try going on Friday or Saturday night instead of during the day on the weekend. Or, if you have flexibility in your schedule, go during a work day. Less people in the store means a faster checkout process.

Should You Sign Up for a Grocery Subscription Service?

When compared to purchasing your own items in a grocery store, there is no question it’s vastly more expensive to subscribe to a grocery delivery service. But, whether you should sign up may depend on more than just the cost.

For one, the time savings might mean more to you than the price. But you should also consider that some items may not be as fresh as you would like. In addition, you may still need to make a run to the grocery store to get other items such as milk, bread or meat in-between deliveries.

Like anything, there are some advantages and disadvantages to using a grocery subscription service. You must weigh them all in order to make the decision that is best for you.

What things do you consider when determining the best purchasing options for groceries? Let us know in the comments below!

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. I shop mostly at Aldi’s. Not only are their prices lower, but with the much smaller store, it doesn’t take nearly as long to get my shopping done. There are some things I might want to buy that they don’t carry, but they have all the basics and many other things too. They don’t handle major national brand names, and they usually have one choice for each item, but I find that their brands are usually just as good and much cheaper.

  2. The examples are NOT grocery services, they are unprepared meal delivery services. There are many true grocery services, most are just fresh season fruit and veg services though they do include some other fresh foods but not groceries. I subscribed to Celebrity Prime Foods for years, it was the BEST and wish they were not out of business. Most people never factor in the time involved, it is GREAT that you guys did. I tell people all the time, look at how much time you put into it and what your value per hour is – then you can evaluate the true cost of a service.

  3. I buy groceries from Safeway and giant for home delivery. I am 72 and have arthritis in my hips so it is difficult for me to walk around the store. I order the heavy stuff like soda water and flour and sugar because they deliver it and bring it into my home so I don’t have to drag it into my house myself.

  4. I wonder if you factored in the cost of the wasted food items that don’t get used and spoil? A recipe may call for 1/2 cup of scallions but you have a whole bunch in your fridge. We use one of the services and the first thing I noticed is I am not throwing away any food! They send what you need for the meal and no extra. Possibly meal planning using similar food items would also do the same, but as stated above, its all about the time. Great read!

  5. I do a mixture, depending on the meals being offered. I subscribe to Blue Apron and get a 3 meal delivery about 2 weeks a month. It gives me the opportunity to try new things, and I don’t have to buy an entire jar of a spice I will never use again. Plus some meals give my husband and I more than enough for one meal creating leftovers! The weeks that don’t offer food we would eat, I shop as normal.

  6. I have tried Hello Fresh, i loved it. I cooked meaks i normally would not have. But cost forced me to stop after a few months. I tried the Kroger curbside pickup. Where you order on line, pick a date and time to pickup and they shop your list and load your groceries in your car. I love it! I does spend mobey just trying things. You get special pricing on certain items and coupons also. There is a nominal fee for this service, less than $5.00. Its worth it to me. Time saver.

  7. Before I retired, while living in Maryland I was most positively impressed with grocery delivery service offered by the Giant Food Stores. I would return home after work and find all my groceries in well insulated containers on my back deck. A really great service that I would highly recommend.

  8. I frequently find myself using Safeway’s delivery service, and find it a welcome change from going to the store itself. Even if I don’t order enough to get free delivery ($150, I think), they have blocks of time where the delivery costs are reduced, so it makes it convenient. It also means that I can think about what I need while being comfortable and not going up and down grocery aisles looking (since I invariably forget to bring a list). I have also used a Grocery Subscription Service as well – and found it very satisfactory because it provided me with great meals by including all the ingredients needed (since I didn’t want to have to buy herbs and spices which don’t stay fresh long). It was worth the extra cost to me to not have to think a great deal about what I would have for dinner and to try new dishes that I would not normally make. The savings on my time and energy outweighed any additional costs in both situations.

  9. I would like to add that some of your audience works for a grocery delivery service. I feel that this email was made to detour some of your readers from using such a service. I actually work for Shipt and that money puts food on the table for my family. I was laid off while I was 6 months pregnant and Shipt hired me when I couldn’t find a job anywhere else. It is a great company to work for and you can’t beat making your owns hours and schedule. I love my job and the people I meet delivering groceries.

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