How much time do you spend each week making grocery runs?
The average Canadian spends 32 minutes in the store while buying groceries and goes grocery shopping 5.43 times per month, according to a study by Dalhousie University.
That doesn’t include time spent in traffic driving to and from the grocery store, which can easily tack on an extra 30 to 60 minutes, depending on how far you are from the nearest grocery store.
One of the best ways to start buying back your time is to use a grocery pickup/delivery service. Today, most major grocery stores offer grocery delivery services for a small fee.
Below, I’ll outline some of the best grocery pickup programs in Canada so you can make the most of your valuable time.
How Do Grocery Pickup Programs Work?
From Walmart to Superstore, Save-On-Foods, and others, most mid to large-sized grocery stores offer a grocery pickup program. These allow shoppers to make their grocery lists online and pay ahead of time.
Before paying, you’ll generally be asked to specify a timeframe when you plan on picking up your order (similar to ordering take-out at a restaurant).
Between the time you place your order and the time you pick it up, grocery store attendants will do your shopping for you, placing everything in a cart or on a labelled shelf. Cold items will be separated in a refrigerated storage area to keep them fresh.
Once you arrive at the store, an attendant will help you locate your groceries and may even help load them in your car.
In addition to grocery pickup services, many stores also offer grocery delivery services. While some may require you to order several days in advance, the majority offer same-day delivery.
Here’s how it works:
- Check to see if your chosen grocery store offers direct delivery (this is usually the most cost-effective)
- If not, see if a third-party delivery service like DoorDash or Instacart works with the grocer to deliver (this may cost a bit more compared to direct delivery from the grocer)
- Now, make your shopping list
- Once your list is complete, you’ll pay with your card and specify a delivery window
- You can usually request your groceries delivered in person or opt for contactless delivery
- Once your order has been delivered, you may also have the opportunity to tip your delivery driver
Pro Tip: when making your shopping list, it’s a good idea to specify alternatives for important items. If your chosen brand/size/variety is out of stock, the person shopping for you will be able to look for the alternative instead, so you’re not left empty-handed.
Save Time With These Grocery Delivery Services
Now that you’ve got a better understanding of how to order groceries online let’s take a look at some of the best grocery delivery services in Canada!
1. Instacart Delivery
- Order Groceries Here: Instacart Canada
- Best For: Last-minute grocery items to full-sized orders
Instacart is one of the most popular online grocery delivery services in North America and works with convenience stores like Shoppers Drug Mart as well as some larger grocery chains.
To start, create an account on Instacart’s website or app. Once logged in, you can select your preferred store and add items to your virtual cart.
After making your shopping list, you’ll decide on a suitable delivery time and pay with your card. Instacart’s independent shoppers then visit your chosen store, pick up your items, and have them delivered to your doorstep within your selected timeframe.
What stands out about Instacart is its real-time chat feature, which most direct delivery grocery stores don’t offer.
While shopping, if an item is unavailable, the shopper can instantly communicate alternatives (if you haven’t already selected one while making your list). You can also track your driver through the app so you can plan for their arrival.
Side Note: Instacart can be a great side hustle for those looking to make some extra money delivering groceries!
- Order Groceries Here: Postmates Canada
- Best For: Small grocery orders, meals, and last-minute items
Although Postmates is generally associated with food delivery from restaurants, the platform has partnered with a number of small grocery and convenience stores to offer grocery delivery services in Canada.
If you’ve ever used Instacart, you’ll find the Postmates app very similar. The two platforms are direct competitors. Some grocers work with both platforms, while others may only work with one or the other. So, if your usual grocery store isn’t listed on Instacart, there’s a chance you may find it on Postmates.
First, you’d sign up on the Postmates website or app. Next, choose from an assortment of nearby grocery stores and start filling your digital cart with the items you need.
Finally, you’ll check out and pick a delivery timeframe.
3. Amazon + Whole Foods Market
- Order Groceries Here: Amazon.ca
- Best For: Same-day delivery on organic grocery items
Whole Foods Market is a haven for organic and natural food enthusiasts. In 2017, the grocery store chain was bought by Amazon, which has incorporated the supermarket into its online shopping app.
Through their collaboration, shoppers can request same-day or scheduled delivery through Amazon’s online grocery delivery service.
To get started, visit the Amazon website or app, navigate to the Whole Foods Market tab at the top of the page, and add items to your cart.
Don’t worry if you have other items from Amazon in your cart. Once you visit your cart, your Amazon items will be separated from your Whole Foods items, so the two won’t overlap.
If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can save even more. Aside from the standard delivery benefits, you can get exclusive discounts at Whole Foods Market, which can cut down the usually high prices of organic food.
- Order Groceries Here: DoorDash Canada
- Best For: Small grocery orders from convenience stores
Along with SkipTheDishes, DoorDash is one of Canada’s most popular food delivery apps. From fast food restaurants to high-end eateries, you can get your favourite meals delivered to your doorstep in less than an hour.
However, what many users don’t know is that the app can also be used for small grocery delivery orders.
Like Instacart and Postmates, you can choose from various local grocery and convenience stores partnered with DoorDash in your area, create a shopping list (and set alternative selections), and get your order quickly delivered.
Delivery fees vary based on the time of day, how busy the app is, current traffic conditions, and how quickly you want your order delivered.
The only downside of using DoorDash is that it’s not partnered with any major grocery stores. However, it’s great if you need a few small items from a local convenience store.
- Order Groceries Here: Walmart Canada
- Best For: Large grocery orders that include a mix of food items and home goods
For many, Walmart is the most affordable place to buy everyday groceries and home items. The main drawback is the insufferably long lines and frequently crashing self-checkout machines.
For those who want to avoid wasting time in Walmart, the retail giant offers both delivery and in-store pickup options for customers.
By visiting Walmart’s website or app, you can fill your virtual cart with whatever you need (both groceries and home items). Once it’s time to check out, you can select whether you want to pick your groceries up in-store or have them delivered within a chosen time frame.
Some Walmart locations offer direct delivery, while others utilize third-party delivery services like Uber Eats and DoorDash.
The main benefit of using Walmart grocery delivery is that you can buy a lot more than just groceries.
Walmart typically has far better deals on everyday essentials like toilet paper, cleaning supplies, pet food, etc., than you’ll find at traditional grocery stores. Its online delivery service allows you to buy all your food and home items in one go, saving you even more time.
- Order Groceries Here: Save-On-Foods online grocery shopping
- Best For: Getting groceries delivered from your local Save-On-Foods
Save-On-Foods is known for its fair deals and last-minute discounts, making it one of Canada’s more affordable grocery stores. Its off-brand (generic) products also provide a better price point compared to big-name brands.
If you want to avoid sitting in traffic and waiting in line, the grocer offers both in-store pickup and delivery for customers through its website and smartphone app.
The few times I’ve used it, my groceries were delivered on time within 30 minutes of the time window I specified, and no items were missing. Delivery fees can vary based on the number of items you put in your cart and whether you choose same-day delivery vs. scheduling a future date.
7. PC Express
- Order Groceries Here: PC Express online grocery delivery
- Best For: Getting mid to large-sized grocery orders delivered from PC Express brands
PC Express is partnered with a family of trusted Canadian grocery stores, including Loblaws, Real Canadian Superstore, and No Frills.
Through the PC Express website or app, you can easily add items to your virtual cart, opt for home delivery or in-store pickup, and select a timeframe that works for you (including same-day pickup and delivery).
One of the best ways to offset the delivery fees is to use your PC Optimum credit card, which allows you to earn 2x points whenever you shop with its affiliated brands.
If you have a large grocery order, the cash back you earn may be able to cover the entire cost of the delivery fees, which makes it essentially a free delivery.
8. Uber Eats + Cornershop
- Order Groceries Here: Cornershop app
- Best For: Small to mid-size grocery orders from local supermarkets and convenience stores
Uber Eats has teamed up with Cornershop in Canada, extending beyond its conventional food delivery realm to offer grocery delivery services.
Users can access Cornershop’s platform through the Uber Eats app to select from a wide range of grocery items and local stores. Once your cart is filled, your Uber Eats shopper handpicks the products based on any notes you provide.
Uber Eats and Cornershop have partnered with a wider range of grocery stores than DoorDash, making them better if you have a larger grocery order.
9. Voila by Sobeys
- Order Groceries Here: Voila
- Best For: Ordering fresh groceries in the Greater Toronto Area
Voila is a streamlined online grocery shopping experience offered by Sobeys to GTA residents. Through the website or dedicated Voila app, customers can browse an array of products that range from fresh produce to pantry staples, meats, and more.
It’s easily one of the most revolutionary grocery delivery services in Canada.
What sets Voilà apart from other grocery delivery services is its commitment to freshness and accuracy through its use of state-of-the-art robotic fulfillment centers, ensuring precision and minimal handling.
This can eliminate human errors, such as dropping items or picking overly ripe produce. In my eyes, this makes it the best grocery delivery service in terms of quality.
Additionally, Voila promises transparent pricing with no mark-ups on individual items. The orders are packed with care and delivered straight to the customer’s doorstep in temperature-controlled trucks to keep them as fresh as possible.
If you plan on using the service regularly, I recommend signing up for Voila’s Delivery Pass, which offers unlimited grocery deliveries without the extra fees.
- Order Groceries Here: Metro online grocery shopping
- Best For: Getting your Metro groceries delivered for a moderate fee
Through Metro’s website or mobile app, users can grocery shop online for produce and other grocery items and choose between in-store pickup or doorstep delivery.
To begin the process, select your local Metro store. Next, add the items to your virtual cart, checkout, and select a pickup/delivery time slot that best fits your schedule.
Metro strongly emphasizes freshness and quality, so you don’t have to rely on third-party shoppers like you would using a service like DoorDash or Uber Eats.
Managers ensure that each order is meticulously handpicked by trained employees, ensuring the received groceries match in-store standards. Metro employees also handle delivery, ensuring good customer service.
- Order Groceries Here: Costco shop online
- Best For: Buying wholesale groceries in bulk
If you don’t mind buying in bulk, shopping at Costco can help you save a lot of money on groceries. The wholesaler’s meat and produce prices, in particular, are often up to 25% cheaper than you’ll find in most grocery chains.
The only downside is that you’ll need to sign up for a membership to shop there. For what you’ll save, though, I’d argue that the fees are well worth it. Costco also has very affordable fuel prices and even offers some decently-priced vacation packages to members.
One of the things I don’t like about shopping at Costco is the long lines. Costco warehouses are packed full almost every day of the week, and it’s easy to spend almost as much time in line as you do shopping. Costco also doesn’t offer bags, which can make carrying items to and from your car a bit tedious.
Costco has partnered with Instacart to offer doorstep delivery, which helps you save time waiting in line and avoid hauling bulk items from your car to your home.
12. Buggy (formerly INABUGGY)
- Order Groceries Here: Buggy app
- Best For: Consolidating orders from multiple stores into a single delivery
Buggy, formerly INABUGGY, is a dynamic grocery delivery app serving major Canadian cities. Users can shop from various local stores through the Buggy app, including supermarkets, butchers, and specialty shops.
Buggy’s partnerships with local specialty shops is what really sets it apart from other delivery services. You can also order alcoholic beverages through Buggy, which is a huge plus (just be sure to have your ID ready upon delivery).
Another standout feature is that Buggy allows users to consolidate purchases from multiple stores into one convenient order. To my knowledge, no other grocery delivery app in Canada offers the same feature.
After selecting their desired products, users set a convenient delivery time, often with options for as fast as one hour. Buggy’s personal shoppers then pick, pack, and deliver the order, ensuring accuracy and freshness.
13. Longo’s (via Grocery Gateway)
- Order Groceries Here: Longo’s grocery delivery
- Best For: Getting handpicked items delivered from your local Longo’s
Longo’s has partnered with the Grocery Gateway platform to offer fast, easy grocery delivery to its customers.
You can browse Longo’s selection of fresh produce, meats, and pantry staples through the Grocery Gateway website or app by selecting your local Longo’s as your chosen store.
Longo’s assigns dedicated staff to carefully pick your items, which can eliminate some of the common issues of working with a third-party grocery delivery service.
The groceries are then delivered straight to the customer’s doorstep within the chosen timeframe.
Tips To Save More With A Grocery Delivery Service
To wrap up, here are a few quick tips to help you get the most out of whichever grocery pickup/delivery service you choose to work with.
- Order In Bulk: Grocery delivery is best for larger orders, as you’ll get the most groceries for the fee (which often remains the same even for smaller orders)
- Plan Your Meals Ahead Of Time: Meal planning before making your grocery list will help you stay focused and help you avoid impulse purchases that can add to your bill
- Order Ahead Of Time (Set Reminders!): Same-day delivery often comes with additional fees, while scheduled deliveries are usually cheaper
- Request Off-Peak Delivery Times: If you’re using a third-party delivery service like DoorDash or Instacart, you may be charged more for deliveries made during rush hour (4-7pm)
- Look For Sales: Before selecting a grocery store, check the sales they’re currently offering and compare them to other grocery stores in your area by using an app like Flipp or Reebee
- Share Delivery Fees With Your Friends And Family: If your roommates, friends, or family need groceries, get them to add their items to your cart and ask them to share to the delivery fee with you
Conclusion – Are The Delivery Fees Worth It?
Most grocery deliveries have a standard delivery fee that can range between $5 and $10 (sometimes more), depending on the amount of groceries you have, your chosen delivery time, and other factors.
If you’re uncomfortable with the delivery fee, curbside pickup is also a great option to consider. It’s usually free (or at least cheaper than delivery) and will still save you time shopping in the store.
Looking for more great ways to save on groceries? Check out my ultimate guide to saving money on groceries next!