Dear Savvy Senior: Can you recommend some good grocery and/or meal service delivery options for seniors? My 78-year-old mother has always shopped for herself, but since the coronavirus pandemic hit, the grocery store shelves are always half empty, and she’s getting more fearful of leaving the house. — Parent Helper
Dear Helper: There are numerous grocery and meal service delivery options available to help seniors stay safe at home during this pandemic, but what’s available to your mom will depend on her location and budget. You should also be aware that because of demand, many grocery and meal delivery services are overwhelmed right now, so some services in your mom’s area may be greatly delayed or temporarily unavailable. That said, here are some good options to look into.
Grocery delivery services
Today there are a variety of websites and apps that allow you or your mom to shop for groceries and other household goods without having to step foot inside a store.
Most of these services offer memberships (fees usually run around $100 a year), which will get you or your mom free deliveries on orders over $30 or $35. Or, they’ll charge a flat delivery fee, which typically is around $8 to $10.
Depending on where your mom lives, there are numerous grocery delivery services like Instacart (instacart.com) and Shipt (shipt.com), which work with a wide variety of grocery retailers, including national and local chains and are widely available throughout the U.S. They use independent-contractor shopper/drivers to pick up orders in stores and deliver them to you.
You should also check into Walmart’s online grocery delivery or pickup service (grocery.walmart.com), which is available in hundreds of locations across the U.S.; Amazon Prime Now (primenow.amazon.com), which is offered in many U.S. cities; Peapod (peapod.com), which is available in 24 metro markets; and Fresh Direct (freshdirect.com), which serves the New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., areas and a few other select cities in the Northeast.
Meal delivery services
Meal kits are subscription-based services that will send your mom a box containing fresh, pre-portioned ingredient items for that kit’s recipe. All she’ll need to do is combine the ingredients (some chopping and slicing may be required) and cook it. Most meal kit services run $8 to $12 per meal.
Or, if your mom wants a break from cooking, a great alternative is to set her up with a ready-made meal delivery service like Mom’s Meals (momsmeals.com) or Silver Cuisine (silvercuisine.com). Both of these companies, which cater to older adults, offer a wide variety of healthy, fully prepared meal choices (just heat and eat) that accommodate a host of dietary needs for those managing diabetes or needing heart-friendly and/or lower-sodium meal options.
Mom’s Meals, which run $7 per meal plus delivery, arrive fresh and will last up to 14 days in the refrigerator. Silver Cuisine meals are delivered frozen and cost $12 or $13 per meal.
You should also find out whether there’s a senior home delivery meal program in your mom’s area. Meals on Wheels is the largest program that most people are familiar with, but many communities offer similar programs sponsored by other organizations which go by different names.
To find services available in your mom’s area, visit mealsonwheelsamerica.org, which offers a comprehensive directory on their website.
Most home-delivered meal programs across the U.S. deliver hot meals daily or several times a week, usually around the lunch hour, to seniors over age 60. Weekend meals, usually frozen, may also be available, along with special diets (diabetic, low-sodium, kosher, etc.). Most of these programs typically charge a small fee (usually $2 to $6) or request a donation, while some may be free to low-income seniors.
Jim Miller is a contributor to NBC-TV’s “Today” program and author of “The Savvy Senior.” Send your questions to Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070; or visit savvysenior.org.