The surprising health perks of online grocery shopping

Since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve been doing most, if not all, of my grocery shopping online. In fact, I haven’t been to a grocery store since March 2020… and I’m not sure if I’ll ever go to one again. 

So when I came across a study about this very subject, it caught my attention.  

Of course, the data gathered was pre-pandemic—but since a lot of you have converted to online shopping too, I wanted to share the findings anyway…  

Spend more, eat healthier 

This study looked at the shopping habits of 137 household shoppers in Maine. Researchers reviewed more than 5,500 shopping trips. And all participants had shopped both in-store and online (with curbside pickup) at least once between 2015 and 2017.  

Ultimately, the researchers identified clear differences in both the quantity and quality of purchases made online versus in-store.   

For instance, they found that online shopping was more expensive: People spent a whopping 44 percent more per transaction when they shopped online. They also purchased more items, and a greater variety of them. 

But I have a theory to explain this uptick: There are usually online shopping minimums, so people are more likely to wait to shop until they have a longer list of items that they need.  

Indeed, that’s exactly what happens to me. Prior to becoming an online grocery shopper, I would often pop into the store to pick up one or two items that I needed for immediate use. Obviously, I don’t do that now. 

But here’s the upside: Even though online shopping was “more expensive,” data also showed it was healthier: Participants spent less on dessert and confectionary items like candy, ice cream, cookies, and cake.  

Interestingly, however, this distinction didn’t hold for sugary drinks or sweet and salty snacks. (Spending remained about the same both in-store and online.)  

Of course, industry reports show these foods and drinks are not among the top five unplanned food purchases, either. So we can’t attribute in-store purchases to impulse buys, which may help explain why the trend didn’t shift for online shoppers.    

After all, people are very committed to having their junk food and beverages handy. So it makes sense those “goodies” always make their way onto the shopping list.  

If that sounds like you, here’s what I recommend… 

Out of sight, out of mind 

To help get a jumpstart on your quest for healthy eating, simply stop keeping unhealthy foods in the house.  

When you eliminate the junk food, you eliminate easy temptations. Period. Not only that, but you may also eliminate a hefty grocery store bill.  

After all, good eating habits start with good shopping habits. And good shopping habits require planning 

Fresh, homecooked meals are the cornerstone of a healthy diet, and menu planning is an essential part of that. But even if you don’t know the first thing about cooking, you can always learn.  

That’s one of the main reasons I launched my new show, Cooking with Dr. Fred. So if you haven’t yet, I urge you to check it out—ideally before you hit the supermarket—on Instagram TV or on my YouTube channel.  

And remember, healthy eating can be fun and delicious. You can even order yourself a copy of my A-List Diet to learn so yourself! Then, start stocking up on fresh, whole foods from your local grocer or farmer’s market. Your wallet and your health will thank you for it! 


Why Getting Your Groceries Online Might Be Healthier.” HealthDay News, 06/08/21. (