It’a grocery shopping day. Again. Just like Groundhog Day (like the rest of the pandemic, it seems). Toddler tantrums, trying to figure out where they put the pine nuts, coming home with four boxes of Lucky Charms and a Happy Birthday balloon. There’s
very little no appeal to stepping foot in a grocery store. Luckily if you’re anything like me, there’s another way. Amazon Fresh. And it can save you time. But does it save you money? I did some research to find out, once and for all, if Amazon Fresh is cheaper than a grocery store.
Can you save money buying groceries on Amazon?
Yes, using Amazon Fresh can save you money on your normal grocery expenses. Amazon offers their own Happy Belly brand to keep prices low (in addition to all the standard brands). And by searching through Amazon Fresh deals, you’ll be able to save even more. That said, there are factors that can alter how much or how little you can save.
After some digging, I’ve identified which items can save you the most and which to skip. Plus, some of the pros and cons of using Amazon Fresh.
Comparing Amazon Fresh prices to a grocery store
Our sample includes a variety of commonly purchased items, which will give us a more well rounded picture. Here’s how the prices stack up:
|Amazon Fresh||Grocery Store||Whole Foods||Trader Joe’s|
|Shredded Mild Cheddar Cheese||$1.99||$1.99||$2.99||$4.49|
|2% Milk (Gallon)||$2.69||$2.99||$5.99||$4.99|
|Chicken Breast (1 lb)||$6.19||$2.99||$5.99||$4.49|
|Ground Beef (1 lb)||$4.00||$5.99||$6.99||$5.99|
|Chopped Salad Kit||$3.33||$3.33||$4.99||$3.99|
|Peanut Butter (16 oz)||$1.99||$2.49||$2.49||$1.99|
|Greek Yogurt (32 oz)||$3.47||$4.99||$4.49||$3.99|
From this chart, Amazon Fresh seems to have consistently better prices than its competitors (with Trader Joes close behind). Some things to keep in mind:
- These prices reflect any current sales (for all stores). Prices may vary depending on deals running at the time of ordering.
- Majority of the Amazon Fresh items come from Amazon grocery brands. And the same applies to grocery store, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s pricing. These prices primarily reflect store brands. If you want to shop name brands, prices will be higher in most cases.
- While Amazon Fresh and Trader Joes are close, Amazon Fresh has a much wider selection of items offered.
Also, in today’s shocking news: Whole Foods did not have the cheapest price for any single item on our list. Whole Paycheck, anyone?
From these results, it seems Amazon Fresh wins (or is even) in most places. And yes, Amazon Fresh is cheaper than a grocery store when you compare a lot of these categories (with the exception of chicken). The prices and convenience are hard to beat as an alternative to in-store grocery shopping.
Extra costs associated with Amazon Fresh
As with anything else in life, there are extra costs associated with the Amazon Fresh service. And it could impact whether you decide to use it or not.
If you’re familiar with purchasing on Amazon, you may already know how their Prime membership can save you on shipping. If you already have an Amazon Prime membership, you’ll likely be able to get all your grocery deliveries free through Amazon Fresh.
What qualifies for free delivery through Amazon Fresh?
According to Amazon, free grocery delivery is available to Prime members in select regions on Amazon Fresh orders that meet the local free delivery threshold. To check your eligibility, all you have to do is sign in to your Amazon account and enter your zip code. Keep in mind – both Prime members and free trial members qualify for the free shipping.
When it comes to the delivery threshold, the typical minimum is $35. We’ve never had a problem reaching this amount when purchasing our regular weekly groceries. If you don’t get to the minimum for free delivery, you’ll be charged a delivery fee, which is typically around $4.99.
|Amazon Fresh||Free with $35 spend ($4.99 if minimum not met) with Prime membership|
|Target Shipt||Free pickup ($9.99 delivery or $99 annual for unlimited delivery)|
|Walmart Grocery||Free pickup ($35 minimum spend required) or $7.95 – $9.95 delivery fee ($98 annual for unlimited)|
|Instacart||Starting at $3.99 (more if $35 threshold not met or 1-hour delivery) + Service fee (~5%) + Heavy fee for certain items|
|Kroger||Free pickup or $9.95 1-hour delivery or free shipping of dry goods and pantry staples with $35 purchase|
|Publix||Varies depending on cart size and location ($5.99 – $8.99) or $99 annual for unlimited|
|Meijer||Free pickup ($50 minimum spend required) or $9.95 delivery fee|
|Albertsons/Jewel Osco/Safeway||Free pickup at select locations or $3.95 – $9.95 based on delivery window (1-4 hours)|
If you already have a Prime membership, Amazon Fresh is the cheapest delivery option. When adding in the cost of a Prime membership, the fees become more comparable.
Is an Amazon Prime membership required to shop Amazon Fresh?
Yes, if you don’t currently have an Amazon Prime membership, you’ll be required to purchase one before shopping on Amazon Fresh. This is an important consideration when debating if Amazon Fresh is cheaper than shopping at a grocery store for you personally. If you already have a membership, there are no extra costs when calculating if Amazon Fresh is good value. If you don’t have an Amazon Prime membership, you’ll need to factor the membership cost into your price comparison.
A typical Amazon Prime membership costs $12.99 per month (or a cheaper annual price of $119).
One benefit to using Amazon Fresh is you’ll be able to pick a 2-hour window with your free delivery. Often, you can even have your groceries delivered same day.
How much do you tip on Amazon Fresh deliveries?
Amazon will automatically add a $5 tip to your cart when you check out. This is the recommended amount, but you have flexibility. You can manually update the amount to apply a lower or higher tip to your purchase. The good news: Amazon Fresh delivery drivers get 100% of tips left for them. It makes a big difference in how much they earn from Amazon Fresh.
Will Amazon Fresh drivers see how much you tipped?
No, Amazon Fresh delivery drivers do not see individual tip breakdowns. They will see a total amount at the end of their shift, but it is not displayed for each household. This is due, in part, to ensure customer privacy. And while tips are very much appreciated by drivers, they will not see the exact amount you leave for them.
If you’re simply walking into a grocery store, these are not things you have to account for. But if you choose to conduct your online grocery shopping elsewhere, tips and delivery charges are common among all online grocery services.
How to save money on Amazon Fresh
Aside from simply browsing for the most affordable items on Amazon Fresh, there are some other ways you can save money. When you visit the Amazon Fresh website, you’ll find a deals section. This feature makes it easy to find all the best deals in one place. You will find coupons, bundle deals, and clearance items. And deals are organized in a manner that makes searching for specific items efficient. If say, you only want deals for deli products, you can scroll to just look at deli products. This is actually how we fell in love with Dietz & Watson’s New York Style Pastrami.
Filter your search by items offering coupons
To find the best deals on Amazon Fresh, click on the deals link and you’ll see all kinds of coupons. It’s broken down by category, so you don’t have to scroll through items not relevant to you (like birthday party essentials). The cool thing is that some items will already be discounted and you’ll get the coupon discount on top of that.
Adding coupons are easy – you just add the item to your cart and the coupon is automatically applied. No clipping required!
Check the deal of the week
Amazon Fresh always offers a deal of the week. And it’s always a really good discount. Be on the lookout for this item every time you shop to see if it’s of interest to you.
Shop the clearance section
Not only does Amazon Fresh offer coupons, but they also have a clearance section. A lot of the items here are pretty large discounts, so it’s always worth it to swing by and check out some of the products featured in this section.
Shop Happy Belly brand products
Happy Belly is Amazon’s grocery brand. It’s similar to buying the store brand at your local grocery store. In addition to Happy Belly, they also have the Fresh brand. In the deals section, you’ll find an area labeled “Our brands”. From here you can sort by Happy Belly, Fresh, or look at everything.
There are truly some great deals with these two lines. In fact, when purchasing our groceries, majority of our items come from these two brands. You can really score some great prices compared to other stores.
What are the pros and cons of Amazon Fresh?
Online grocery shopping has its benefits over shopping in store. It also comes with drawbacks. Where you land with Amazon Fresh will depend entirely on what’s most important to you when grocery shopping.
Benefits of using Amazon Fresh
You can find things much quicker.
In the grocery store, you have to hunt around to find specific items. And that can often involve perusing several aisles until you finally find it. With Amazon Fresh, you type it in the search bar and can find it in seconds. It makes the entire grocery shopping experience much quicker.
You don’t have to leave home.
One of the biggest benefits to grocery shopping online – you can do it all from behind a computer screen in your pajamas. And then you wait for it, in your pajamas. The convenience factor cannot be overstated.
You end up buying less.
How many items do you intend to buy vs. how many end up in your cart? Unless you have an above average level of self-control, you probably walk out with more than you wanted. When searching for items online, it’s less likely you’ll add a bunch of unnecessary items to your cart. Grocery stores are designed with impulse buying in mind. There are literal jobs that revolve around it.
It’s easier to price compare.
When you’re at the store, some items are up high, some are low. It takes more work to compare brands and prices. You can save with Amazon Fresh simply due to the ease with which you can price compare.
Drawbacks to using Amazon Fresh
It’s not great for items you need in the moment.
If you’re out of milk and need a gallon right now, Amazon Fresh probably isn’t your go to option. While you can order same-day, it’s not best for items you need urgently.
You don’t have a Prime membership or only plan on using it for groceries.
If you don’t already have a Prime membership or you don’t plan on taking advantage of the other benefits, it may not be worth it for you. The monthly or annual cost probably tips the scale to make Amazon Fresh more expensive than a grocery store. It’s worth the membership cost if you’re taking full advantage.
You can’t pick out items yourself.
Probably the biggest consideration – you can’t see the actual product you’re buying. In our experience, items from Amazon Fresh have been good quality (better than other online grocery services we tried). But of course experiences will vary. If you want to pick out your own avocados and bananas, this is one of the drawbacks.
Is Amazon Fresh worth it?
Yes, for the convenience alone, Amazon Fresh is absolutely worth it. When you factor in the competitive (and often lower) prices, there is a strong advantage to using Amazon Fresh over driving to the grocery store. We’ve never had any issues with quality. In fact, if anything they sent underripe foods rather than overripe to ensure optimal quality. And for anyone who dreads going to the store, it makes the meal planning process so much easier.
In my opinion, the benefits far outweigh the costs. It’s especially beneficial if you already have a Prime membership or you plan on getting one. Try it out and see how it comparesFind out if Amazon Fresh delivers to you
And if you aren’t already a Prime member, sign up for a free trial. Amazon Fresh is included with free trials, so you can try it before you invest in the full membership.
Alternatives to Amazon Fresh
If you want to compare some of the different online grocery services, here are a few others to consider:
Direct with your local Grocery store