We’ve all been there. Those days when you’ve had a long day at work, traffic is a nightmare and you can’t bear the thought of driving to the grocery store or worse, getting everyone out the door only to sit through a long meal. You know your fridge and cupboards are bare and you know you can’t call in from one of a hundred restaurants like you did when you lived in the city. When you’re feeling “jammy time” rather than playing the shopping cart shuffle during the after-work rush, we’ve got options for you.
Luckily convenience is the name of the game these days and grocery stores, meal kit purveyors and restaurants have all clamored on board to help you get food in your belly without ever having to leave your couch. Especially if you’re used to endless delivery options from city living, ferreting out your options that will deliver east of the tunnel can be time-consuming so we’ve done the work for you.
To have groceries delivered to your front door, there are four main services. The first is shopping directly through the grocery store site which in Lamorinda is offered namely by Safeway. While the item prices are higher than in store, Safeway is probably the most affordable of the options given that they carry more mainstream conventional brands. Safeway does charge a delivery fee, but their drivers do not accept tips which can contribute to the cost of other grocery delivery services.
Best Delivery Options For Lamorinda
Instacart will deliver to Lamorinda from the broadest selection of retailers: Safeway, Sprouts Farmers Market, Smart & Final, Total Wine & More, Costco, CVS Pharmacy, PetcoNow, BevMo!, Sur La Table, Whole Foods Market and Lunardi’s Markets. Item pricing by store varies, but Instacart does detail for which stores item prices are higher (i.e. Safeway, Costco) and for which stores item prices are more in line with what you’d find in the store (i.e. Sprouts, Smart & Final.) The beauty of Instacart is that you can shop multiple stores in one transaction and you even have the option of shopping online and picking up in store to save on the delivery fee (typically around $4/store) and driver tipping. Regular Instacarters can sign up for Instacart Express for $99/year which affords free delivery for the year for orders $35 and up.
For $20 more per year, an Amazon Prime membership gives members the option to use the Prime Now app for grocery delivery along with the other benefits of Prime membership. Prime Now delivers from either Whole Foods Market or Amazon. As with Instacart, Prime Now also can deliver in as little as two hours. While there are less store choices, prices in general are more competitive than Instacart and the seamless integration of your purchase preferences if you’re already a Prime member makes it that much easier. Pro tip: Prime Members get special discounts when shopping at the local Whole Foods store in Lafayette. (Note: we’ve found the savings laughable unless you’re buying 365 brand products).
While Instacart and Prime Now are services offered nationally that serve the Lamorinda area, enter Good Eggs – a local grocery delivery service run out of the Bay Area. Good Eggs offers a more locally-sourced selection including robust pre-prepped offerings. Due to its focus on locally sourced items, Good Eggs’ item selection is more limited and pricier and they do charge a delivery fee. Apart from the local selection, Good Eggs also sets itself apart by offering delicious and easy meal kit subscriptions of three meals a week – the only meal kit subscription service to also offer groceries. If you tag your groceries onto your meal kit order, you can have them both delivered to you at the same time without paying an additional delivery fee.
And now onto meal kits which have many advantages including little to no food waste, time saving short-cuts, new recipes each week to keep meals interesting, saved trips to the grocery store and still getting the satisfaction of cooking without the time glut. The options in this booming industry are also seemingly endless from degree of time and preparation involved to culinary preferences. So here’s the decision tree on meal kits: you decide how much time you want to put in, then what types of meals you’re interested in preparing, then the number of times of week you wish to prepare these meals and lastly the cost.
There are some meals you can purchase that are completely cooked already – all that’s required is that you heat them up in the microwave and chow down! For the most part, these already cooked meals are individually portioned and have a heavy emphasis on meeting specific nutritional needs. These include national purveyors such as Freshly, Sakara and Pete’s Paleo as well as more local companies such as Thistle, Munchery, Methodology and Territory Foods.
Next level up, enter the somewhat prepped category which includes some meal components that are typically more time-consuming (sauces and pre-chopped ingredients) to reduce time in the kitchen, often in a single cooking vessel. These companies include the aforementioned Good Eggs and Gobble. You can now also find these semi-prepped meal kit options in grocery stores in the fresh deli section.
The original model which offers recipe cards with full ingredients in the box and typically features more involved recipes is led by the original meal kit company Blue Apron. There are many options in this category, most of which ship nationally including HelloFresh, Sunbasket, Chef’d, MarleySpoon, Green Chef, Purple Carrot, Peach Dish and One Potato to name some of the bigger ones – all with a different shtick.
And then there’s those times when you want your food delivered piping hot to your front door, ready for consumption. Hangry? Well, though you may have used services such as UberEats, Caviar or Grubhub in your more urban past...sorry, Charlie, that’s one thing you gave up for great schools and sunshine. Though you may miss the days of on-demand food...you’ll survive with just a few bruises and a lot less caloric intake if you carefully consider which of the above works best for your budget and your family well in advance of the time that ‘hangry’ sets in.