Eat well with grocery and meal delivery

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Phyllis Courlander and Barbara Ruben

If you’ve just had surgery or have chronic health problems like arthritis, walking up and down the supermarket aisles can feel like running a marathon. Even with a motorized cart, lifting and toting the bags of groceries can be overwhelming, not to mention cooking the food once you have it home.

Luckily, a variety of resources are available, from grocery delivery services, to meal delivery programs, to in-home meal chefs.

Shop from home

Several local grocery chains allow you to use their online sites to select groceries you want and have them delivered to your door.

Giant’s Peapod allows for ordering online and delivers to your door. Their minimum order is $60. Orders under $75 have a $9.95 delivery fee, while those between $75 and $100 cost $8.95 for delivery, and orders over $100 cost $7.95.

Peapod is currently offering free delivery for 60 days after your first order. For more information, see or call 1-800-5-PEAPOD.

Safeway also will deliver orders placed online. Their minimum delivery purchase is $50, and fees range from $6.95 to $12.95 depending on the whether the order is under or over $150 and the time of day you schedule delivery. Delivery is free on your first order. Learn more at or call 1-877-505-4040.

Harris Teeter offers a service called ExpressLane, in which you order groceries online and then pick them up curbside at the store. The service costs $4.75 per order or $16.95 for unlimited orders during a 30-day period. For more information, see or call 1-800-432-6111.

The only commercial delivery option for local residents who prefer to place orders over the phone rather than via computer is Top Banana Home Delivered Groceries, a nonprofit organization established 29 years ago.

They fill orders from their own storehouse, which carries a variety of name brand products, frozen goods, fresh meats, produce and dairy, as well as home, personal and pet supplies.

Top Banana makes once a week deliveries to all of Prince George’s County and much of Montgomery and Charles Counties in Maryland, as well as throughout Washington, D.C. They do not serve the Northern Virginia area.

The program’s main focus is serving seniors, but anyone, regardless of age or income, can get assistance. Orders are placed by telephone and are delivered to the customer’s kitchen. Drivers will even unpack the bags and loosen stubborn jar lids when needed.

Groceries are competitively priced, and a service fee of $5 to $15 per delivery
is based on ability to pay. For a “Storehouse Product Guide” or information, call
(301) 372-FOOD (3663) or visit

Shopping help and meal delivery

Fairfax County’s Volunteer Solutions program has drivers that take older adults to the grocery store or shop for them. For more information, contact Information on Aging, Disability and Caregiver Resources at (703) 324-7948.

In Montgomery County, the nonprofit Senior Connection provides volunteers to shop for seniors. To be eligible for this program, the participant must be 60 or older, meet an income requirement, and have no one in the home available to do their shopping. For more information, call (301) 962-0820 or see

The Jewish Social Service Agency’s (JSSA) Shoppers Program is another volunteer shopping service. On a regular basis, usually weekly, volunteers in the Washington area shop for groceries and other household items for frail elders. Some shoppers take their older friends to the store; others pick up a list and money and return with groceries and change.

To request service, call the JSSA intake line at (301) 816-2633 to set up a social work assessment. The service is free, but there is a sliding scale fee for the assessment.

Food and Friends provides meals, groceries and nutrition counseling to people who have a serious illness, such as cancer or AIDS, and a limited ability to prepare meals. There are no income limitations or requirements for insurance coverage, and their services and meals are entirely free.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner, including 11 special diets, are delivered daily, Monday through Saturday, to a limited area in the Washington, D.C. area.

Groceries are delivered weekly or every other week to people outside the freshly-prepared meals delivery area and to those healthy enough to prepare their own meals.

Recipients get two bags of non-perishable groceries, frozen soups, entrees and liquid nutritional supplements. Call (202) 269-2277 or visit

Meals on Wheels volunteers will provide two cooked meals, one hot and one cold, to each recipient Monday through Friday. There are numerous local Meals on Wheels programs throughout the Washington region, and fees and eligibility vary from program to program. To find one, go to or call (703) 548-5558.

There are also a number of companies that offer frozen meals for delivery that can be ordered online or by phone. Magic Kitchen (, 1-877-516-2442) caters to the dietary needs of seniors. It offers a wide variety of nutritious meals, with prices ranging from $8 to $12 per meal.

Other prepared meal services include Schwan’s (, 1-888-724-9267), DineWise (, 1-800-749-1170) and FamilyChef (, 1-888-612-9264).

Personal chefs

If your budget permits, consider hiring a personal chef from time to time. A personal chef can help plan meals according to your taste and needs, do the grocery shopping and prepare several weeks worth of tasty meals in your home, which you can freeze and eat when you please. Or, they can prepare it in their own kitchen and deliver it.

Chef’s fees range from $200 to $300 plus the cost of groceries. To find a personal chef, visit the American Personal & Private Chef Association website at or call 1-800-644-8389.

A less expensive way to go is to hire a homemaker or home-helper who will shop and cook for you on occasion. This type of service typically costs from $12 to $20 per hour.

Phyllis Courlander is the assistant director of Top Banana. Jim Miller of Savvy Senior also contributed to this article.