As the first real signs of winter poke their heads out this week, the walk to the grocery store may seem that much further away.
But have no fear. There’s no longer any reason to risk life and limb braving the elements for a six-pack of beer or a last minute dinner. Through the magic of the Internet, a variety of online grocery and food delivery options are available to Chicago residents.
Yeah, there’s a delivery fee. And you might pay a little more than at the traditional store, but sometimes it’s cold, or you’re tired or you just don’t feel like leaving the house again. During these unavoidable times, online grocery delivery may be just the ticket. Customers order products online and then later that day or within a few days (depending on the service), your groceries are delivered to you at home.
Peapod.com is one of the oldest and biggest such sites. Founded in Evanston and now based out of Skokie, Peapod began partnering with Chicago-area Jewel-Osco Food Stores to make deliveries in 1990. By the time the Internet swung into full gear in 1996, it created its own website and began delivering independently. The same year Peapod was named to the Inc. 500 list of fast-growing privately held U.S. companies. As the largest of the Chicago-area delivery services, if you live in the city, they probably have you covered.
There are a few large national services such as netgrocer.com, which offers a full range of goods, including frozen foods, for delivery or Amazon Grocery, (through amazon.com) which will deliver a large variety of nonperishable goods to your home or apartment. Whole Foods delivers its prepared foods through wholefoodsmarket.com. The locations in the Gold Coast, Lincoln Park and South Loop areas deliver in the city.
Don’t forget about the little guy. Many local businesses have been able to use the online and home delivery models with success in the city. Karen Keane, co-owner of Newleaf Natural Grocery in Rogers Park, said her store has been able to expand its home delivery service of organic fruit and vegetable boxes as well as specialty goods.
“In the last nine to 10 years, the whole idea of expanding the business by moving beyond the brick and mortar and using the Internet and social media has really been amazing for us. To go from a tiny little place to having a deliver zone that runs from Wilmette in the north to UIC in the south. That’s huge for a little tiny place like ours.”
Newleaf sells an average of 200 to 250 boxes of organic fruits and vegetables per week during the summer and up to 350 in the winter and spring months when there is less access to fresh produce available.
“We deliver downtown to a lot of offices,” Keane said. “Instead of a 3 p.m. sugar fix they have fruit in their refrigerator.”
Local businesses offer specialty products and other amenities: in the case of Newleaf, a delivery driver who has been making the rounds for the last nine years.
“He won’t put your groceries in the refrigerator but some people will give him a key and want him to drop it inside the door, and he’s just that trustworthy and great,” Keane said.
If a quick dinner from you’re favorite restaurant is all you can think about on that train ride home, restaurant delivery services like grubhub.com or seamless.com will have a meal delivered to your door roughly about an hour after you place an order from your computer, smartphone or tablet device. Again, the dreaded delivery fee may come into play, but sometimes it’s worth the extra $2-3 to have dinner meet you at home.