Picture it: You're home after a long day of work. You're exhausted. You're hungry. And you just don't have enough energy to power through making a meal at home, let alone heading to the grocery store to pick up all the ingredients. So you get on your phone (or your computer) and type in "food delivery near me" and order online. This might be a weekly reality for you, and there's no shame in it. But there is a better way.
Whether you're craving Asian fusion in Las Vegas or American comfort food in Virginia Beach, Mexican in Los Angeles or Italian in New York City, there's probably a food delivery service ready to bring dinner to your doorstep. Yet for all the convenience these companies seem to offer, there are some definite drawbacks. Let's take a look at some of the most popular on-demand delivery services to find out just how fast, easy, and affordable they really are.
You've heard the old adage, "There's no such thing as a free lunch." And it's certainly true when it comes to food delivery services. While specifics vary from one platform to another, the basic concept is the same: You type in an address, get a list of restaurants that deliver to your location, then scroll until you find something you like. Usually, you can also search by cuisine, restaurant name, or menu item, and track the progress of your order. Below is a breakdown of the most popular apps that offer food delivery in cities across the country.
The largest on-demand delivery service with more than 500,000 merchants in over 3,500 U.S. cities across all 50 states, plus Mexico, Postmates is most popular for delivering food, but you can also get just about anything available from retailers—groceries, alcohol, an iPhone, or a new shirt, anyone?
Delivery fees range from 99 cents to $3.99 for Postmates partner merchants and $5.99 to $9.99 for all other merchants. There's also a service fee, which varies based on how much you're spending. During peak order times, delivery prices may surge (aka "blitz") and you can also get hit with a “small cart fee” if your food bill is less than $15. Before you know it, that mini New York pizza or Mediterranean mezze plate you ordered just doubled or tripled in price. Oh, and don't forget the 20% recommended tip on the total delivery price.
As you can imagine, these sorts of fees have resulted in not-so happy customers, which the company seems to be addressing with Postmates Unlimited. This premium membership is $9.99 per month, or $7.99 per month if you pay one year up front, and includes free delivery on all orders that are at least $15.
With more than 115,000 restaurants in over 2,200 U.S. cities and London, Grubhub lets you order food delivery and pre-order pickup from local spots—whether it's your favorite Chinese restaurant or that Greek place you haven't tried yet. Once you submit your order, you can expect the food to be delivered in anywhere from 25 minutes to over an hour, depending on the restaurant and distance. (Not exactly fast delivery, is it?)
Grubhub delivery fees are set by the restaurant, and some have minimum purchase requirements. (If you're picking up, there's no minimum.) Say you want a $6 tropical smoothie and $8 pad thai for a total of $14. Well, if the restaurant's minimum order amount is $15, you'll have to increase your order if you want it delivered at the set price. If not, you'll be charged an additional delivery fee. Also, as with other on-demand delivery services, the delivery fee doesn’t go to the actual delivery person—it's going to Grubhub and its restaurant partners.
Offering delivery in more than 3,300 cities across all 50 US states and Canada, DoorDash operates much like other food and goods delivery platforms. When ordering on DoorDash, you'll be charged for the food you order, plus any local taxes as well as the delivery fee, service fee, and optional tip.
Delivery fees depend on the restaurant while the service fee can be as much as 15% of the order subtotal. In some cases, there may be an additional fee for orders below a minimum subtotal and for orders made when demand is especially high. (There goes that surge pricing again.)
Perhaps to help combat the bad press about all these added fees, not to mention the controversy surrounding the company's business practices, DoorDash has launched DashPass in certain regions. For $9.99 per month, this premium membership offers free delivery on all orders of $15 or more.
Like its parent company Uber, Uber Eats is a global platform with more than 46,000 restaurants spanning some 700 cities across 24 countries and six continents. (Sorry, Antarctica. Soon maybe?) Once you order the food you want, you'll get an estimated delivery time along with the total amount due, which—surprise!—includes a delivery fee, a service fee, and potentially a small order fee.
Up until March 2019, Uber Eats had a flat booking rate, but then they rolled out a host of sliding-scale fees that are confusing to many customers. According to the company, delivery fees vary for each restaurant based on things like your location and availability of couriers. Service fees are 15% of an order's subtotal, and extra fees apply to orders under $10. Naturally, you can add more items to get rid of this last fee, but it doesn't exactly equate to the most affordable experience, does it?
Whether or not you've used any of the food delivery apps mentioned, the bottom line is that they're not nearly as affordable, convenient, and time-saving as they seem at first glance. Fortunately, there's another option you might not have considered—and it's good for your wallet, your time (or lack thereof), and your health.
Unlike ordering fast food or takeout, Tovala Meals are healthy gourmet meals delivered to your door with no prep or cleanup required. Wait, what? We realize it might sound too good to be true, but it's not.
Made with natural, carefully sourced ingredients, Tovala Meals are created by professional chefs who never use anything artificial. You'll have hundreds of choices thanks to an ever-changing weekly menu with plenty of gluten-free, vegetarian, low-calorie, and low-carb options.
Each meal is $12 with zero hidden fees. Ever. Shipping is always free too. (FYI, Tovala Meals are available to ship in the lower 48 states.) And when it comes to actually cooking the food, your meal will be ready to eat in 20 minutes or less thanks to the Tovala Oven, which is our state-of-the-art countertop unit that will cook your Tovala Meals with the scan of a barcode. That's a lot faster—and a whole lot fresher—than any run-of-the-mill food delivery service.
What's more, you can customize your plan to receive as few as three meals or as many as 12 meals per week. You can also skip a week (or two), pause, or cancel anytime.
There's no denying that ordering takeout from your favorite restaurants can seem like an easy way to get lunch or dinner on the table. But when it comes to a long-term solution, you need to consider the overall cost not only to your wallet, but to your health. With Tovala, you don't have to worry about hidden fees, and you certainly don't have to rely on fast food. Try it for yourself, and get ready to save time and money while enjoying healthy home-cooked meals in just 20 minutes.