Grocery deliveryEarlier this year Lisa Aberle wrote about grocery delivery, so that's already been discussed a bit. The cost for this service probably varies quite a bit by area. The chain that delivers in my town charges $12.95 for orders under $150 and $9.95 for orders of $150 or above. The minimum you need to spend to qualify for delivery is $50. There may also be bag fees and a fuel surcharge. Someone over 18 must be present at delivery. Your first order is free and certain delivery windows qualify for free or reduced delivery charges. I'd imagine the farther away the grocery store is from your house, the more expensive delivery would be (if it was even available). It goes both ways, after all: The bigger of a pain in the neck it is for you to get to the grocery store, the bigger pain in the neck it is for someone to get from the grocery store to your house.
However, depending on your situation, grocery delivery may be worth it. Since it's not a subscription, you could do this every once in awhile as needed. If your mobility is impaired, or if you have small children, for example, it may be easier or safer to have groceries delivered directly to your home. If you don't have a car, it may also be cheaper to have things delivered than to take a cab or other means of transportation. Bonus: It's not just groceries, but practically anything that your grocery store sells.
Meal plans (recipe services)Maybe you are willing (and able) to make the trip to the grocery store, but what to buy stumps you. Not everyone likes to cook, even if it is a great strategic hobby. If you have other responsibilities that take up your mental bandwidth, it can be challenging to make a list that does the following:
Includes everything necessary to get you through a week, and
Maximizes your use of ingredients
Another benefit: These types of services tend to be pretty inexpensive. An app that costs $5 but buys you your sanity (and cuts down on food waste) could be well worth the money. Subscription services may be slightly costlier; but once you have identified some recipes and shopping lists that work for you, you can always cancel your membership and upgrade to the Pinterest strategy.
Meal delivery servicesFinally, there is flat-out meal delivery. Some of these services deliver pre-cooked food (either family style or individually packaged) that can be easily reheated. Some deliver exact portions of all the ingredients necessary for a complete meal, along with instructions for cooking. I looked at five meal delivery services. Some were local, some regional, and some national. According to my findings, meals cost between $8 and $12 per person, on average. The amount of prep required varied, including everything from a simple reheating to preparing the entire meal from scratch. Unless you are working with a local or regional company and live outside their area, delivery is generally free -- or to be more accurate, delivery is included in the price. Most meal delivery programs focus on lunch and dinner, leaving you on your own for breakfast. Additionally, most meal delivery programs require you to purchase a minimum number of meals per week (the lowest I saw was three). You also have to submit your order by a certain cutoff each week to ensure delivery -- that is, they only deliver once a week on a set day. The price depends on the number of meals being purchased. At that price point, it seems almost as expensive as dining out to me, although it doesn't require you to leave the house. And while $8 to $12 per person doesn't seem cost-effective to me, if you live in an area where grocery stores don't deliver but it's difficult for you to get to the store, this might be a good option. Similarly, if you work long hours and/or have a brutal commute, this might be something to consider.
What do you think? Have you or someone you know had groceries delivered, or subscribed to a meal planning or delivery service? What made it worth the money?