Note: This article was updated in 2023 with new data and to reflect that Peapod and the Peapod app are closed. Peapod is now incorporated into the technology used for Giant, Martins, Stop & Shop and other brands owned by Ahold Delhaize
During the pandemic I tried online grocery shopping for the first time. It was early on and, like a lot of people I was trying to avoid leaving the house as much as possible.
I have a very specific process for grocery shopping so I was a little wary. After a few weeks though I thought “This is so convenient. I’m in!” I knew there was a service charge, delivery fee, and that I should tip the driver. I justified those costs by thinking “Yeah but what’s my time worth?”
Then, I started looking at my monthly grocery spending. It was up. Way up. At the time I chalked it up to panic buying toilet paper so I didn’t give it much thought. I eventually went back to regular shopping and didn’t think much more about it.
Recently though, I tried it again. Even after you factor in the delivery fees my spend seemed high.
I decided to run an experiment by going to the grocery store then comparing the shopping lists. What I found was pretty shocking.
Do groceries cost more with Instacart?
Ok, I’m going to spoil it here. Yes. It’s more expensive. You can expect to pay a 25% premium on your grocery bill if you use Instacart. You will pay about an 11% premium on your bill if you use Peapod / Giant Direct
Read on to see my analysis.
My shopping list wasn’t very big this week so it was easy to make the comparison.
Check it out below.
|Grocery Item||Giant Foods In-store||Instacart|
|Vanilla Almond Milk||$4.09||$4.39|
|16oz Phildelphia Cream Cheese||$7.69||$8.89|
|Stonyfield Organic Heavy Whipping Cream||$5.99||$6.99|
|SB unsalted butter||$3.99||$4.69|
|Store-brand Lite Cream Cheese||$1.69||$1.99|
|Log Cabin Sugar Free Syrup||$4.29||$4.99|
|Nestle Semi-sweet morsels||$3.39||$3.99|
|Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal||$6.19||$7.19|
|Store Brand Popcorn||$2.69||$3.19|
|Restaurant Style Salsa||$4.19||$4.89|
|SB Country sausage links||$4.69||$5.49|
|Suave Body wash||$2.29||$2.19|
|Bubly Selzter (8 pack)||$4.99||$4.69|
|Store brand mixed nuts 32oz||$14.99||$17.29|
|Colgate 2pk Total Whitening||$8.39||$9.69|
For all of these items, I factored out any Bonus Card savings. This is the price on the receipt before discounts are applied. The prices were on average were 15.5% higher. My overall bill was 13% more.
But wait… That’s not counting the Instacart fees.
Instacart offers free delivery but they still charge you a service fee and suggest a tip. With the service fee and the tip here’s what the actual difference is.
How much more expensive is Instacart?
In my test above you can see that Instacart is 25% more expensive.
|Taxes & Fees||$2.69||$1.32|
I spend about $150 per week on groceries. Using Instacart will cost me nearly $2000/year in inflated grocery charges and fees.
Look, I get that we’re paying for convenience. I’ll may still use Instacart from time to time. I just want to make sure you go into this with eyes wide open and realize that there is a real cost to that convenience. They offer free delivery but really they’ve just obfuscated their costs into inflated grocery items.
To be fair, Instacart does indicate that their prices are higher. Let’s play “Where’s Waldo” and see if you can find the notice.
Is Peapod cheaper than Instacart?
Peapod was a grocery delivery service that was purchased by the owner of Giant Food stores. It was folded into Giant Direct sometime in 2022. You can’t use the Peapod app any longer but if you use Giant Direct you are using what was once Peapod.
|Item||Giant Foods In-store||Giant Direct (formerly Peapod)|
|Vanilla Almond Milk||$4.09||$4.09||0.00%|
|16oz Phildelphia Cream Cheese||$7.69||$7.69||0.00%|
|Stonyfield Organic Heavy Whipping Cream||$5.99||$5.99||0.00%|
|SB unsalted butter||$3.99||$4.19||5.01%|
|Store-brand Lite Cream Cheese||$1.69||$1.69||0.00%|
|Log Cabin Sugar Free Syrup||$4.29||$4.29||0.00%|
|Nestle Semi-sweet morsels||$3.39||$3.39||0.00%|
|Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal||$6.19||$6.19||0.00%|
|Store Brand Popcorn||$2.69||$2.69||0.00%|
|Restaurant Style Salsa||$4.19||$4.19||0.00%|
|SB Country sausage links||$4.69||$4.69||0.00%|
|Suave Body wash||$2.29||$2.29||0.00%|
|Bubly Selzter (8 pack)||$4.99||$4.99||0.00%|
|Store brand mixed nuts 32oz||$14.99||$14.99||0.00%|
|Colgate 2pk Total Whitening||$8.39||$8.39||0.00%|
As you can see most of these grocery items are the same or cheaper if you go with Peapod.
How do the fees compare? Peapod is higher than Instacart.
|Taxes & Fees||$2.69||$1.57|
However, even with the higher fee the overall cost is less than Peapod.
If you choose in-store pickup. The fee is only $2.95.
None of this should be surprising, whether you increase costs of the individual items or have a fee tacked on at the end people need to be paid. We’re paying for the convenience. It’s just good to see how much that convenience is actually costing us.
I spend about 2 hours a week grocery shopping. This includes meal planning, the round trip and the time in store. Meal planning usually takes the most amount of time.
Based on what I’ve learned here, I’m more likely to use the in-store pickup. This will save me about 40 minutes a day or about 35 hours / year.
Will your overall bill be more expensive? That depends on your shopping habits. If you follow my grocery shopping hacks you’re better off going to the store yourself. However, if you always end up walking out of the store with stuff you don’t need then your wallet (and your waistline) might be better using a delivery service.