Think of this as a guide to buying actual, good food— whether it be bulk or not— online for very little money. Because eating well shouldn’t be a luxury. Eating well on a budget is never an easy feat. But with so many online options nowadays (sorry Costco, still love you), it’s easier than ever to compare options and prices and have everything shipped to your door— no shopping trip needed. Here’s a look at some of my favorite sites for sustenance.
Consider this your Millennial Costco. You can buy products in bulk and they’ll hit your doorstep in less two days or less. First order is free, while the rest of them are free if spending $49 or more. There are no membership fees, they give you free samples, and they’ll remind you when you need to rethink stocking up again. It’s kind of a miracle. Plus, they just launched Boxed Spirits for NYC, California, and Massachusetts members, where you can have your favorite drinks delivered straight to you.
If you already have Amazon Prime, AmazonFresh is definitely one to try. You can choose between Attended Delivery (where you’ll be home, and you pick a 1-hour timeslot), Doorstep Delivery (where they leave in temperature-controlled bags to be picked up later), or Pickup (where you choose a pickup location and do just that). While AmazonFresh doesn’t take regular coupons, they do partner with a ton of companies for even better deals—just don’t go in with preconceived notions about what you’ll be ordering and go straight for the sales. There, you’ll find amazing deals that are not ones to miss. That being said, I wouldn’t say it’s worth spending the extra money for Prime membership just for AmazonFresh, but if you have it, the deals are great and the delivery is easy.
Brandless is exactly that—no name-brand products, for cheap. Shipping is $5 for all orders, and you’ll receive your box of goods 3–5 days after ordering. Organic crunchy peanut butter? $3. Big bag of trail mix? $3. Organic tomato sauce? 3 for $3. Are you seeing a pattern here? Everything’s $3, and it’s pantry essentials you’ll need. Go order. You’ll be thanking yourself later.
FreshDirect is by far one of the most reliable grocery delivery services, and they deliver to many states on the East Coast. (Not on the East Coast? Try Peapod or Instacart.) Their FoodKick option delivers to your door same-day. While ordering your groceries online might seem like a money suck, if you do it right, you can actually save major—you just have to time it right and know where to look. First and foremost, always head to “Fresh Deals” and “Sale,” to scout out the best deals. Know your prices, and go for full items (AKA the whole chicken, the whole pineapple, etc.) rather than pieced out and parceled items—you’ll save more money by dicing your own stuff (if you didn’t know that already). Earlier time delivery slots will save you up to $2 (they’ll note it), while prime time slots will cost you the full delivery fee, so make sure to rise and shine with the best of them. I find that meat and frozen foods are the best deals with FreshDirect, and their “FreshDirect” brand items and meal kits are also always a good deal (for obvious reasons). Save your money and compare prices for produce and pantry items before you buy.
I know what you’re thinking—you’re crazy if a prepaid meal box saves you money, right? Wrong. With sign-up offers and both a classic plan and a family plan, HelloFresh ships you everything you need in a box for the recipes you select, completely pre-measured and with no extras— meaning less wasted food and less wasted money. At around $10 a serving, it’s already a pretty good price, but used as a date-night or friend activity instead of a meal out? Even more money is saved. (Pssst…have your date or friend bring the bottle of wine.) Lastly, if you end up not feeling the recipes you selected or get slammed at the office without the energy to whip up the meal, my tip is to go rogue. Just cook the food how you want (AKA quickly) or freeze it, and you’ll avoid wasting the ingredients.