With major Canadian grocers like Metro, Walmart and Loblaws all launching delivery services, there’s never been a better time to try out online grocery shopping. You can choose to have food delivered right to your door — or you can “click-and-collect” to place your order online then pick up your shopping at your local store. Some Toronto suburbanites can now even pick up their groceries at their transit station, saving them valuable time on their commute home from work.

Meal-kit delivery services, such as Hello Fresh, Good Food and Fresh City, are also making it easier than ever to become a whiz in the kitchen — and to cut back on waste. It’s as simple as choosing what meals you want to eat that week and how many portions you’ll need, then sitting back and waiting for the recipe card and ingredients to be delivered to your home. “I used [a meal delivery kit] every week for about 2 months,” says Simone Mamdeen, a new mom 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.”

The benefits of online grocery services and meal kits

  • Convenience. Online grocery services are huge time-savers, because you don’t have to commute to the grocery store, spend time browsing the aisles, or wait in line at the checkout while the shopper in front of you hunts for coupons. While the grocery store packages your groceries, 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 because I can shop anywhere and schedule my delivery time,” says Lateeshia Sheldrick, a marketing professional in Toronto.
  • Healthy choices. When healthy options are scarce at home, you might be more inclined to indulge in junk food or fast food. A study found that people who were trying to lose weight found success with ordering groceries online because they were less likely to buy junk food and less likely to buy too much food. Another study found that people generally chose fewer unhealthy foods when shopping online because of delayed instant gratification. “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 easily compare the prices of food and use exclusive online coupons. Shopping online also forces you to think carefully about each item you place in your e-cart, as you can see your total bill rise each time you add an item. (For more on how mindfulness can save you money, see: How mindfulness can benefit your financial health.)
  • New dinner ideas. Meal kit delivery services change their recipes often, and online grocery shopping can give you access to spices and produce that might not be found at your local grocery store. “I enjoy the variety of options and trying new recipes,” says Alexa Reedman, a research program co-ordinator in Halifax, who uses meal kit services every couple of months.

Because of the many benefits of ordering groceries online, companies like Sun Life Financial are exploring ways to help make using services such as meal kits even more accessible to their clients in the near future.

Whether shopping online or offline, it’s important to read the nutrition labels on your food, follow Canada's Food Guide and consult your doctor before trying a new diet.