The pandemic changed the way we shop. For many of us, the best grocery delivery services are supplementing the weekly pilgrimage to the farmers market, the after-work dash to the butcher, and the biweekly trips to multiple in-store supermarkets. While it’s nice to be able to ask your neighborhood cheesemonger for a personal recommendation, online grocery shopping is undeniably…convenient.
It’s especially convenient if your needs aren’t always served by the local Kroger, where you might come across 19 different breakfast cereals—and none of them cater to your gluten intolerance. For those who follow a certain diet, want a specific brand of fonio, or seek sustainably and ethically sourced ingredients, online specialty grocers offer a wide selection of items that you probably won’t find at your neighborhood bodega—or Fresh Direct, Instacart, and Amazon Fresh. (And if you’re looking specifically for black vinegar, shrimp chips, and artisan kimchi, check out our favorite online Asian grocery stores.) What’s more, many of these stores don’t have membership costs or require annual memberships. Below, we’ve rounded our favorite sites to place online grocery orders.
Are you torn between wanting to shop with your conscience and the nagging belief that there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism? Well, same. Still, I like to support brands that I believe are doing good and important work whenever I can, and Hive makes that really easy. They vet the products and producers they carry, not just for quality and taste, but for their social and ecological impact as well. When you add a product to your cart, a little banner appears to explain how that pickle jar was made with zero waste products, or that your new favorite baking mix was made by women who’d had trouble finding work because of their educational and personal backgrounds. Am I saving the world each time I order groceries online? Meh, probably not, but at least I’m snacking guilt-free. —Nico Avalle, digital operations associate
Weee!, the online retailer selling Asian and Hispanic groceries, is just as fun to use as it is to say. Enter your zip code on the homepage to unlock a whole world of fresh ingredients, from pork belly to Chinese pears, which are delivered the next day to loads of towns and cities across the US. If you happen to live outside of their metropolitan zones, don’t fret. You’ll still have access to thousands of shelf-stable pantry staples, like Indonesian Mi Goreng, my go-to instant noodles since ye olde Australian boarding school days; this easy-to-prepare Japanese Curry mix; and the sweet-savory Taiwanese BBQ sauce that turns literally any meat or heap of veggies into dinner. Subscription-skeptical like me? Great news: You don’t need one for this food delivery service. —Ali Francis, associate editor
Hungryroot is a grocery service that essentially doubles as a meal kit or meal delivery service. Think of it as a virtual grocery store with hundreds of recipes built around the food on its digital shelves. After you select your dietary preferences or special diet (vegetarian, plant-based, pescatarian, etc.), Hungryroot serves up a weekly set of recipes, along with a list of all the ingredients needed to make them. For example, you can go with this simple 3-ingredient recipe for shrimp alfredo and easily add the cauliflower linguine, wild caught Gulf shrimp, and Hungryroot Alfredo sauce to your cart. All of the recipes are super quick and easy to make. That said, you don’t have to stick to their recipes—you can also order a selection of standalone grocery items, like dried mango jerky, organic medjool dates, and almond chickpea cookie dough. —Tiffany Hopkins, commerce writer
I subscribed to Imperfect Foods in 2020 when I was trying to limit my trips to the grocery store, and I’ve been using it nearly every week since. This grocery delivery service specializes in products that might otherwise go to waste: yes, “ugly” fresh produce but also odd-sized fish filets, mislabeled nonperishable goods, and sweet snacks made out of pretzel bits, broken almonds, and other leftover odds and ends. But the real reasons I keep using Imperfect are its flexibility, pricing, and reliability. There’s no subscription fee, you can completely customize your order each week or go with a preloaded box, and you can skip weeks without penalty any time. Also, just about everything is cheaper than its equivalent at my local grocery store in Brooklyn. And unlike the grocery apps which charge a premium and have limited delivery time slots, Imperfect drops my box right on my doorstep every Thursday afternoon, and they scoop up the ice packs and packing materials from last week’s box too. Shopping at Imperfect Foods has many perks, and the whole experience makes me feel both virtuous and completely coddled. —Amanda Shapiro, BA contributor
Thrive Market actually makes online shopping for wellness-forward, healthy food…fun? Its user-friendly website and app are designed to make your life as easy as possible no matter what your dietary and lifestyle needs may be. Thrive operates on a subscribe-to-save model, like Costco: You pay a monthly membership fee, which unlocks discounts of up to 30% off prices you find elsewhere. It wasn’t long before Thrive Market’s online grocery delivery helped me save money by no longer overpaying for my favorite specialty snacks and high-quality organic foods, like this sustainably caught tinned mackerel or my go-to chickpea pasta. Did I mention their life-saving recurring delivery option? You can get your favorite goods automatically shipped when you’re running low without having to lift a finger. —Mehreen Karim, contributor
We need to talk about this dried fruit. Yun Hai’s dried pineapple, mango, guava, and wax apple are cult favorites among BA staffers, but unless you’re buying 10 bags (which I do support), round out your cart with Taiwanese pantry items to hit the $100 order threshold and qualify for free shipping. I love this soy paste, which has a thick consistency akin to barbecue sauce, and I use it to glaze brussels sprouts and chicken thighs and punch up salad dressings. Yun Hai also has me covered on the fermented black bean front. Don’t know where to start on your Taiwanese cooking journey? Grab this basics bundle, which includes cold-pressed peanut and white sesame oils, mala chili crisp, and wood-fired soy sauce. —MacKenzie Chung Fegan, senior commerce editor
Snuk sells a huge, well-organized array of global foods by region, from North Africa to Eastern Europe—or you can go hunting for that very specific Turkish pistachio you heard was way more flavorful than the California ones (it is). FYI: Snuk has 12 types of couscous, one of which is tomato! The pantry essentials I stock up on: this sherry vinegar that I know they use in the salad dressings at Cervo’s (expensive, but a dash goes a long way), Soom tahini, and gochugaru chile flakes. Stuff I’ll impulse buy: Cellar Door’s spicy cocktail cherries; these Greek cheese crackers, based on the black cat packaging alone; and hard-to-find blue corn masa. (Use it to make cornbread, tortillas, and the scones from Mother Grains.) —Alex Beggs, contributor
I used to spend way too much time at my local store reading the ingredient lists of each and every product. Not anymore. Now I tackle the bulk of my shopping list at Bubble Goods, where every item—including these Dam Good English Muffins and my favorite chocolate-hazelnut cookies on Earth—have been vetted for things like dyes, gums, and preservatives. Are you vegan? Gluten-free? Dairy-free? Bubble makes it a cinch to shop according to different dietary needs. But what I really love about them is that they make it easy to add to my robust hot sauce collection. I’m very into this garlicky green sauce right now. —T.H.
I love a farmers market, but what I do not love is rising early on a Saturday to fight for the juiciest tomatoes. Luckily for me (and others who live in the New York City area), Farm to People offers the best of local farms via home delivery. You can opt for a seasonal produce box or shop à la carte for fruit and veg as well as rainbow eggs from Ironbound Farm’s pasture-raised hens, free-range lamb from Stryker Farm in Pennsylvania, and whole wheat bread flour from Farmer Ground Flour. Farm to People offers free delivery with a minimum order of $50. You need to finalize your box two days before delivery, so it does require some advance planning—all of which I do from the comfort of my bed on Saturday mornings. —M.C.F.
There’s no shortage of online grocers out there, but not all of them boast artisanal and gourmet food—that’s where Yummy Bazaar comes in. This virtual marketplace delivers specialty ingredients from all around the world, and it’s become one of my favorite places to buy groceries online. Why? Because their selection is bananas in the best way. Think truffle flavored-pasta made in Italy, organic harissa spread made in Tunisia, and fresh honey cake made in France. I’ve made it my mission to add something new to my online order every time. A couple things I’m loving as of late: cinnamon and vanilla infused maple syrup and orange daifuku mochi. —T.H.
If Umamicart had a physical store, I’d move apartments just to live on the same corner. As Stefon would say, this perfectly curated Asian grocery store has everything: You’ll find all your Asian pantry favorites, like Lao Gan Ma chili crisp and black vinegar. Also here are newer brands with Asian American founders, like Fly By Jing (and its very fly Zhong Sauce). But what truly sets Umamicart apart is its selection of fresh Asian produce and cuts of meat; this is the best grocery delivery service if you’re looking to get fresh perilla leaves, pickled mustard greens, and paper-thin slices of hot pot meat all in one place. Throw in a bag of shrimp chips and a multipack of Neoguri instant spicy seafood noodles and I’m in Asian supermarket heaven. Umamicart is only available in select cities on the East Coast currently, but it’s rapidly expanding. —Christina Chaey, contributor