The cost of convenience: is food delivery really worth it?

4 mins | 13 May 2024

The Chase team

Delivery became popular during the pandemic – takeaways offered tastes of our favourite restaurants, and grocery deliveries could save hours of queuing. And despite a cost of living crisis, many of us have been reluctant to give up the food delivery habit.

It may be more cost-effective to do your own shopping or pick things up in-store, but sometimes the convenience is worth the cost. We share what you might want to consider when deciding whether delivery is really worth it.

Markups and additional fees

'My local shop was out of the ingredients I needed, and I don’t drive, so I thought I would try one of the delivery apps,' says Rosie, from Worthing.

'But when I went directly to the supermarket’s own website, I realised that the fast delivery app prices tended to be a few pence higher. They didn’t seem like much individually, but I could see how, in addition to delivery and service fees, it could end up much more expensive than shopping in-store – and that was before the additional delivery and service charges.'

Supermarket delivery apps and meal kit companies do not generally add service charges, but most delivery apps add an additional 'service fee' simply for using their app.

Most apps, supermarket delivery services and recipe kit companies tend to charge delivery fees.

On the delivery apps, fees are usually based on your distance from your chosen restaurant or shop. Displayed before you order, they’re usually around a few pounds but can be higher – or sometimes, during special promotions, for example, they can be waived.

You can also opt to pay higher delivery fees to receive your food more quickly on some apps or within a specific time slot for some meal kits.

Some apps and supermarket delivery services also offer monthly or annual subscriptions to cover your delivery fees for that period. If you order from one service regularly, subscriptions could be cheaper than paying each individual delivery fee.

Serving sizes and nutritional needs

A weekly delivery of three meals for two people from a meal kit service can cost around £35, including delivery – often the same price as one takeaway from an app. Of course, you do have to cook the meals yourself, so it’s worth asking what price you’re willing to pay for convenience.

As always, it may be worth doing comparison shopping to see which service can offer the best value.

If you prefer larger portions, you could consider bulking out subscription meals with your own meat or poultry.

An additional trip to the shop may be less convenient than a delivery of all the ingredients, but it’s likely to cost less than ordering the prepared meal from a restaurant.

Meal kits may also maintain some of the novelty and variety delivery apps can offer – but at a reduced cost.

Your own needs

For many people, delivery apps remain an important option.

'I use them for emergencies,' says Zoe, from London. 'When you’re a single parent with no provisions for breakfast, food deliveries from an app are brilliant, even if they are hugely overpriced,' she admits.

Those additional costs can allow you to skip the hours of shopping and prepping and just enjoy a meal with your family – or let you just continue your binge watching uninterrupted.

There may be times when it makes more sense to do everything yourself, but sometimes, it can make more sense to pay extra to have one thing taken care of.

To support customers with actioning their budgets, Chase lets you set up multiple current accounts, up to 20 in total. Since you can spend from these directly, they might help you track your spending throughout the month. You might want to rename accounts rather than closing and opening a new one.

18+, UK residents.

Disclaimer: The Hub is intended as a knowledge portal to provide information on a range of topics, including financial products. Articles may reference products and services that Chase UK does not currently offer. This article is for information only and does not constitute financial advice. Tax treatment depends on your individual circumstances and may be subject to change in the future. We do not offer any tax advice. If you're unsure about credit card consolidation please seek financial advice.

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