A Guide to Food Delivery Services for Seniors
Let's face it, 2020 is a year like no other. While this year has presented many challenges for us, especially seniors, it also comes with exciting new opportunities. As we're all staying at home more and eating in rather than going out, we're presented with the question: how can we spice up our home-cooked meals? The good news is, seniors have more options than ever before. Food delivery services are a simple way to make eating at home more leisurely, safe, and enjoyable!
Seniors are embracing food delivery at record-breaking rates. A recent study found that one-in-four seniors have ordered groceries or food delivery during 2020,1 which was a significant increase from 2019; with food delivery becoming more accessible and popular with those in their golden years, why not give it a shot? With a few clicks on your smartphone or computer, you can get healthy food delivered right to your doorstep.
Over the past few months of quarantine, we at SeniorLiving.org have been quaran-cooking! (Forgive us for the awful pun; we couldn't resist). We've reviewed a dozen meal delivery services to find the best options for seniors on the market. From grocery delivery to gourmet dish reviews to microwavable meals enjoyed over Zoom calls with grandparents, we've done it all. Whether you're looking for something new, something easy, or something cheap to change up your routine during the COVID pandemic, we've got you covered. This guide will go over the different food delivery options and give you all the details on some of our favorite services. Without further ado, let's get into it!
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Craving a meal from your favorite local restaurant, but you're not up for the drive or visiting a restaurant during COVID? Several popular food delivery services will pick up your order from the restaurant and deliver it straight to your door. All you have to do is go online or use their mobile app to order.
These delivery services are a great way to spice up the week and add some variety to your meals. Below we'll get into the details for some of our top picks for restaurant-to-home dining services.
Large Selection of Local Restaurants for Delivery
What We Like About GrubHub
- Diverse selection of restaurants
- Widespread nationwide availability
- Easy-to-use mobile app
- Subscription-based service for frequent users
Things to Keep in Mind About GrubHub
- Delivery fees
- Estimated wait times aren't always accurate
GrubHub is one of our personal favorites when it comes to restaurant delivery services. The company has a mobile app and website, so you can easily order meals from your smartphone, laptop, or tablet. Today, GrubHub delivers from over 300,000 restaurants across 4,000 cities in the U.S., so it's likely they deliver near you.
The mobile app and website are both easy to navigate. All you'll need to do is type in your address, and a list of nearby restaurants will pop up. You can also search for certain restaurants or types of food if you have something specific in mind. Once you choose a place, you can quickly look through the menu, customize your order, and add items to your cart. After you check out, you can track your order on the app so you'll know when to expect your delivery.
Like most delivery services, GrubHub charges a delivery fee. Fees typically range from around $0.99 to $4.99, depending on your order size and the establishment. However, they often run promotions with specific restaurants for free delivery, so be on the lookout! Users can also sign up for GrubHub+ for $9.99 per month to get free delivery on all orders. GrubHub saves your past orders so that you can reorder your favorites quickly and easily.
Restaurant Delivery Customized to Your Preferences
What We Like About DoorDash
- Large selection of restaurants
- Available in 4,000+ cities
- Recommendations based on your preferences and past orders
- Helpful rating system
Things to Keep in Mind About DoorDash
- Delivery fees for some orders
- Fewer options than GrubHub
DoorDash operates similarly to GrubHub, offering delivery from over 300,000 restaurants in 4,000 cities. They also have a mobile app and website for easy ordering, and the app saves your past orders for future reference.
One unique thing about DoorDash is its recommendation engine, which learns from your past orders to suggest restaurants near you that you may like. The more you use the app, the more accurate the recommendations become. This is great for seniors who want to try something new in their area. Plus, DoorDash has a rating system that considers both the quality of food and how quickly the restaurant prepares DoorDash orders on average.
In addition to restaurants, DoorDash partners with pharmacies, convenience stores, and liquor stores, so you can have more than just dinner delivered. Like GrubHub, DoorDash offers a monthly subscription plan to get rid of delivery fees.
Other Restaurant Delivery Options
While GrubHub and DoorDash offer the most widespread coverage and most extensive selection of restaurants, other options may also be available in your area. Below is a list of other restaurant delivery services we'd recommend!
- Uber Eats: Great for seniors who already use Uber for transportation
- Postmates: Gives users the option to order from restaurants even if Postmates isn't partnered with them
- Seamless: Part of the GrubHub family with delivery in 600+ cities
- Caviar: Available in 20 major U.S. cities
The “Homemade Feel” Meal
While most of us enjoy eating out from time to time, it can get expensive. Plus, those delicious gourmet meals are often high in calories, and it's harder to keep track of the ingredients and nutrients you're getting. That's where grocery delivery and meal kit services come in!
If you still enjoy cooking, these delivery services make it simple and easy. There are three main types of homemade meal delivery services:
- Grocery Delivery: Give the company your grocery list, and they'll do the shopping for you! After they pick up your items, they'll deliver everything to your doorstep.
- Meal Kit: For those who love to cook but don't want to find the recipe or do the shopping, we'd recommend meal kit services. The company will deliver the recipes, step-by-step guides, and all of the ingredients you need to make the meal.
- Pre-cooked meals: For those who want to keep it simple or seniors who don't want to cook, many companies offer fully-cooked meals that are ready to eat in minutes with a quick zap in the microwave or heat up in the oven.
Let's take a look at some of our favorite homemade meal delivery services that we've reviewed from each of the above categories.
Gourmet Meal Kit Service
What We Like About Blue Apron
- Unique, rotating menu
- Restaurant-quality meals
- Comes with all ingredients
- Wine pairing options
Things to Keep in Mind About Blue Apron
- Small weekly menu
- Limited options for those with allergies or dietary restrictions
- Meals take longer to cook than the recipes suggest
If you love gourmet, restaurant-quality meals, but you don't have a ton of cooking experience, Blue Apron might be the right fit for you. With this subscription-based service, you'll go online and preselect two to four meals per week. You can choose portions for either two or four people, so it's great for older couples, families, or just to have leftovers. Blue Apron will ship all of the necessary ingredients, down to the sauces and spices, and step-by-step cooking instructions to your door.
Some Blue Apron meals that we've seen include Calabrian Shrimp and Spaghetti Squash, Honey-Lime Tilapia, and Fontina Pork Burgers; there are always a variety of unique meals to choose from! The company features a selection of vegetarian meals for those with dietary restrictions. Blue Apron also offers monthly wine pairing subscriptions (for an extra fee) to go with the meals, which is excellent for all you wine-lovers.
Jeff Hoyt, SeniorLiving.org's Editor in Chief, recently reviewed Blue Apron himself to give our readers a hands-on look at the meal kit service. He found that Blue Apron's meals were tasty, fun to make, and unique. Check out his review below!
There are a few drawbacks to Blue Apron to note. You'll only have around nine meals to choose from each week, so if you're a picky eater or have many dietary restrictions or food allergies, it may be hard to find meals that work for you. While Blue Apron offers a vegetarian menu, there aren't other dietary options like vegan, gluten-free, or dairy-free meals. During his review, Jeff also found that the meals take longer to cook than the times listed on each recipe, so it's a good option for those who don't mind spending a fair amount of time in the kitchen.
Blue Apron automatically renews your subscription every week, so it's best for those who want to commit to the service regularly. However, you can opt to skip certain weeks, so if you're out of town or have other meal plans, there is some flexibility.
Silver Cuisine by BistroMD
Pre-made Meals with Senior Nutritional Needs in Mind
What We Like About Silver Cuisine by BistroMD
- Pre-made meals ready to eat in a few minutes
- Designed for senior nutrition by doctors and prepared by chefs
- Over 150 rotating meals to choose from
- No contracts or automatic subscriptions
- Several dietary options
Things to Keep in Mind About Silver Cuisine by BistroMD
- Expensive shipping for small orders
- Not as “gourmet” or fresh as cooking it yourself
For seniors who love home-cooked meals but don't enjoy cooking or don't have the time, Silver Cuisine is for you! Silver Cuisine offers a rotating menu of around 150 meals, with everything from breakfast to dinner to snacks and smoothies. Every meal is chef-prepared, so when it shows up at your door, all you have to do is throw it in the microwave for a few minutes! Silver Cuisine meals are easy to freeze so that you can plan out your meals for a week or two in advance.
One of our favorite things about Silver Cuisine is that their meals are designed by doctors, specifically for seniors' nutritional needs. Plus, they have a wide range of dietary options, including gluten-free, low sodium, heart-healthy, diabetes-friendly, vegetarian, and menopause-friendly meals.
Taylor Shuman, one of our editors, sent her Grandma Judy a Silver Cuisine delivery to test out the company's offerings and give us the inside scoop. Because visiting each other in person is difficult with COVID, she and her grandma have meals together over Zoom from time to time to catch up. Thank goodness for the Internet! Silver Cuisine made it easy to enjoy a tasty meal together, even though they couldn't be in the same place. Judy was excited to try out Silver Cuisine, as she typically cooks her own meals, but wanted to try something new for days when she's crunched for time.
Taylor and her grandma had a Zoom breakfast together, and Judy tried out Silver Cuisine's Peanut Butter Crepe with Strawberry Compote. Talk about fancy-schmancy breakfast! Judy doesn't usually buy pre-prepared meals, and she was pleasantly surprised by how tasty her breakfast was. She also appreciated that the meals were already portioned out and designed for seniors specifically.
We'd recommend ordering several meals from Silver Cuisine at a time. Shipping was around $20 for Judy's order, which is pretty pricey if you use the service regularly. However, shipping fees are waived for orders over $100, so if you order meals for the week in one large order, you can avoid the extra expense. Judy also wanted us to let our readers know that her order came in a large, heavy box. For those with mobility issues, you may need some help maneuvering the package.
Same-Day Grocery Delivery from Your Favorite Stores
What We Like About Instacart
- Get your groceries delivered within a few hours of ordering
- Wide range of stores available
- Annual membership to waive delivery fees
Things to Keep in Mind About Instacart
- Delivery fees
- Some items in your order may be out of stock
If you love to cook meals from scratch but don't want to deal with the hassle of going to the store, Instacart is our go-to grocery delivery service. You can order on their mobile app or website from grocery stores, liquor stores, pharmacies, and even makeup stores like Sephora. An Instacart shopper will do the shopping for you and deliver them to your home within a few hours.
Choose your preferred store and search by item name, popular items, or department. The app also features a coupon section, so you can get the best deal on your groceries and see what's on sale.
We appreciate the flexibility that Instacart offers when it comes to picking your items; if an item is out of stock, you can decide if you're okay with substitutions or not. Your shopper will send you a text letting you know if certain items are unavailable and what other similar options there are. That way, you'll know exactly what to expect when the groceries are delivered.
Instacart has another unique feature that makes reordering your favorite foods a breeze. If you have an item at your house that you're looking for on Instacart, simply scan the item's barcode using your phone's camera and the Instacart app. Instacart will pull up the item's name and where it's sold so you can easily add it to your cart.
You'll pay a $3.99 delivery fee for Instacart orders over $35, or you can opt for an Instacart Express membership for free delivery. Express members pay an annual $99 fee, so it's best for seniors who plan to use the service regularly.
Other Homemade Meal Delivery Options
Want more options? Below are a few other popular homemade meal delivery options:
- HelloFresh: Weekly meal kits with around 15 meals to choose from each week
- Green Chef: Certified organic meal kits with options for dietary considerations
- Home Chef: Meal kits, smoothies, and fruit basket deliveries
- Freshology: Healthy, chef-prepared meals for those on a diet
- Amazon Fresh: Grocery delivery from Amazon available in several major U.S. cities
Free Food Delivery Services for Seniors
The convenience of food delivery services has made cooking easier for a lot of seniors. However, getting your meals delivered can add up, so it may be too expensive for seniors on a tight budget or fixed income. The good news is, some organizations work to help those in need.
- Meals On Wheels America: provides daily healthy meals either for free or at a lower price. Meals on Wheels has over 5,000 local programs, so they're likely available near you. We love that Meals on Wheels also recognizes the importance of social interaction as we age; seniors have the option to meet at designated meal sites to eat with other seniors and volunteers and spend time with people in their community.
- Project Angel Heart: For those who live in Colorado, this program provides free meals to seniors with life-threatening illnesses like HIV/AIDS, cancer, or kidney disease. Project Angel Heart offers options for six different diets and aims to provide meals to keep seniors healthy and strong as they battle illness.
- Mom's Meals: provides free meals to seniors who qualify for government-funded nutrition programs or are covered by Medicare or Medicaid. Mom's Meals has menus that cater to a wide variety of senior diets, including low-sodium, diabetes-friendly, heart-friendly, cancer support, and more. The company operates in all 50 states, so they're an option for seniors across the country.
Choosing the Right Meal Delivery Service
There are so many different options on the market that you might feel overwhelmed, but don't worry! The chart below outlines our recommendations for different types of seniors.
|If You're Looking For||We Recommend|
|Gourmet meals made at home||Blue Apron or Hello Fresh|
|Meals for weight loss or overall health||Silver Cuisine, Freshology, or Green Chef|
|Pre-made, chef-prepared meals||Silver Cuisine or Freshology|
|Meals for certain dietary restrictions||Silver Cuisine, Green Chef, or Mom's Meals|
|Food from your favorite restaurants||GrubHub, DoorDash, or Uber Eats|
|Free Meals*||Meals on Wheels, Mom's Meals, or Project Angel Heart (Colorado residents only)|
* Some options only available to seniors who meet certain income or health requirements
How Much do Food Delivery Services for Seniors Cost?
The cost of food delivery is difficult to nail down to one price range, as there is a wide variety of services at different price points available. Below is a breakdown of pricing for the different types of delivery services:
- Restaurant-to-home delivery: The price you pay will depend on your chosen restaurant. You can expect to pay what you would typically pay when dining-in at the restaurant, plus taxes and a delivery fee, which can range from around $0.99 to $6.99. If you plan on using the service regularly, it may be worth subscribing to GrubHub's or DoorDash's premium service, which costs around $10 per month and waives delivery fees. You also have the option to tip the driver who delivers your meal, so that's an extra cost to consider as well.
- Homemade meal delivery: Popular meal kit and pre-made meal delivery services, like Blue Apron and Silver Cuisine, typically cost around $10 per serving. Some premium meals or top-tier subscriptions may cost extra. You might also pay a shipping fee, ranging from around $10 to $20 depending on the company and your location. However, these fees are often waived for larger orders.
- Grocery delivery: If you're using a grocery delivery service like Instacart, you'll pay the same price that you would pay in the store, as well as a delivery fee. If you plan to get your groceries delivered regularly, we'd recommend an Instacart Express membership, which costs $99 per year and waives delivery fees for all orders over $35. You can also tip your Instacart shopper if you'd like, which tacks on an additional cost.
If you're trying a meal delivery service for the first time, keep your eyes peeled for new customer deals and discounts. These specials include free shipping, waived delivery fees, a discount on your first order, or even a free meal.