Grocery delivery services were starting to become popular in Canada before the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, with widespread lockdowns and shopping restrictions, they went into high gear. But now that we’re back roaming supermarket aisles, is there any reason to stick with delivery services? Or to try one for the first time?
Major Canadian grocers like Metro, Walmart, Sobey’s and Loblaws all offer delivery services. They can deliver your groceries right to your door. Or you can “click-and-collect” to place your order online then pick it up at your local store.
Another online meal option is a restaurant delivery service, like Skip the Dishes or Uber Eats. Traditional restaurant deliveries originate at individual restaurants. Delivery is typically free over a certain amount, or within a certain area. Canadians have been sending out for Chinese food or pizza, for example, for decades. But the newer services offer a wide choice of meals from a variety of restaurants. The difference is that the delivery charge goes to the service, rather than the restaurant.
Then, there are meal-kit deliveries. Services such as Hello Fresh, Good Food and Mama Earth advertise a convenient way to become a kitchen wizard. Order a specified number of meals, and you get a box with recipe cards and all the necessary ingredients. You pay for the convenience, of course, but you also save money by reducing waste. How? By buying only as much food as you’re going to use. You can also avoid buying an entire package of something exotic you might not use again.
“I used [a meal delivery kit] every week for about 2 months,” says Simone Mamdeen, from Ajax, Ontario. “I really enjoyed how convenient it was for a busy family like mine. The recipes are individually packaged with everything you need.”
Read more: 4 ways to reduce food waste and save money
The benefits of online grocery services and meal kits
The benefits of online grocery services don’t necessarily stop at your wallet:
- Convenience. Online grocery services can be huge time-savers. You don’t have to commute to the grocery store. You don’t have to spend time browsing the aisles. And you don’t have to wait at the checkout while the shopper in front of you hunts for coupons. While the grocery store packs your order, you can relax or tackle other errands. Delivery times vary, but some services can deliver your food to you within a day. “It’s incredibly convenient,” says Lateeshia Sheldrick, a marketing professional in Toronto. “I can shop anywhere and schedule my delivery time.”
- Healthy choices. When healthy options are scarce at home, you might be more inclined to indulge in junk food or fast food. A behavioural study found that people who were trying to lose weight found success by ordering groceries online. That’s because they were less likely to buy junk food – or too much food. Another study found that people generally chose fewer unhealthy foods when shopping online. And that’s because there’s no instant gratification. Those candy bars and other snacks displayed so temptingly at the checkout? Not an issue when you’re shopping online. “I eat less junk and eat out way less now,” says Jill Noronha, a busy young professional who uses grocery delivery food services monthly.
- Mindful shopping can save you money. Online grocery shopping allows you to compare the prices of food easily, and use exclusive online coupons. Shopping online also forces you to think carefully about each item you place in your e-cart. Why? Because you can see your total bill rise each time you add an item. And it’s easier to stick to your shopping list if you’re not tempted by in-store displays. In today’s climate of rising grocery prices, every bit of savings helps.
- New dinner ideas. Meal kit delivery services change their recipes often, so dinner doesn’t get boring. As well, online grocery shopping can give you access to spices and produce you might not find at your local grocery store. And if you really like a meal kit recipe, you can always buy the ingredients again, offline. “I enjoy the variety of options and trying new recipes,” says Alexa Reedman, a research program co-ordinator in Halifax. She uses meal kit services every couple of months.
Whether shopping online or in person, it’s important to be an informed shopper. Read the nutrition labels on your food. Follow Canada's Food Guide. And consult your doctor before trying a new diet.
This article is meant to provide general information only. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada does not provide legal, accounting, taxation, or other professional advice. Please seek advice from a qualified professional, including a thorough examination of your specific legal, accounting and tax situation.