5 Legit Ways to Earn Extra Cash Delivering Groceries and Food [July 2020]

If you are unemployed or working reduced hours, delivering food on your own schedule could be just what you need to make ends meet.
Last updated Jun 22, 2020 | By Lindsay Frankel
Person delivering groceries

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The unemployment rate reached 13.3% in May, and millions of jobless claims continue to pour in each week. Luckily, expanded unemployment benefits through the CARES Act have kept most people afloat, with an estimated two-thirds of unemployed individuals potentially earning more income than when they were employed. Still, you might find that you really need some extra cash right now; the benefits might not be enough for your family, or you may have returned to work with reduced hours.

Whatever your financial situation, there’s an opportunity to make money delivering groceries and food. Just keep in mind that as newly jobless workers flock to platforms like Instacart and Postmates, the competition for jobs is getting tough in some areas, and that’s reducing the compensation for gigs offered. On the other hand, many reports show that Americans are tipping more generously, which could make snapping up more delivery gigs worth your while.

5 ways to earn money delivering groceries and food

  • Start shopping with Instacart
  • Become a Doordash dasher
  • Become a Postmates delivery driver
  • Deliver with Shipt
  • Become a Taskrabbit tasker

To be successful as a delivery worker, you’ll need to pick the best side hustle to suit your needs and goals. We’ve put together a list of five companies, plus details on what to expect, from potential earnings to the company’s response to COVID-19.

1. Start shopping with Instacart

If you enjoy shopping in addition to making deliveries, a job with Instacart could be perfect for you. As a full-service Instacart shopper, you’ll shop and deliver each customer’s order. You can make your hours and start earning quickly.

How Instacart works

Instacart was founded in 2012 with the goal of providing same-day delivery services from grocery stores to customers. To get started as an Instacart shopper, you’ll need a smartphone, a registered vehicle, and insurance. You’ll accept a batch of orders on the Instacart app, which will show an estimate of what you will earn for the work. Next, you’ll go to the store and fulfill your orders; and finally, you’ll make your deliveries and get paid.

How to get started with Instacart

  1. Fill out the application form in the Instacart Shopper app or online
  2. Receive a conditional offer from Instacart
  3. Authorize a background check
  4. Once your background clears (within approximately 10 days), open the app to accept your first batch

How much can you earn with Instacart?

The amount you can earn depends on:

  • Your location
  • The number of orders you complete
  • The number of items and effort required for each batch
  • Your driving distance

No matter what, you keep 100% of your tips. It’s also easy to earn referral bonuses from getting your friends to shop with Instacart.

How Instacart is trying to keep shoppers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic

With guidance from the CDC and public health professionals, Instacart has implemented the following changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • In-app wellness checks for shoppers to monitor symptoms
  • Free health and safety kits available to order directly from the app
  • “Leave at My Door” delivery is the default option, and customers can scan their IDs on their smartphones so delivery is contact-free
  • Up to 14 days of pay if you are diagnosed with COVID-19

Read our full Instacart review

2. Become a DoorDash dasher

If you’re not a fan of shopping and simply want to deliver happiness while helping to support local restaurants, consider working as a dasher for DoorDash.

How DoorDash works

Available in more than 4,000 cities, DoorDash has been connecting hungry customers to local restaurants since 2013. As a dasher for DoorDash, you’ll be able to work whenever you want. Just open up the app to accept an order and begin making your deliveries, or schedule future dashes. You’ll need to be at least 18 years old with one year of driving experience, a driver’s license and insurance, and a smartphone to get started.

How to get started with DoorDash

  1. Fill out the online application
  2. Consent to a motor vehicle and background check
  3. Choose a driver orientation program or order an activation kit
  4. Complete sign-up
  5. Download the app and start working

How much can you earn with DoorDash?

The amount you can earn depends on your location, the time and distance to deliver, any current promotions, and your tips. You’ll be able to see your estimated earnings for each order before accepting it. Each delivery comes with base pay, and current promotions (such as extra pay during busy times) plus tips will be added to that. You’ll always earn the base pay, and you’ll always keep 100% of your tips.

How DoorDash is trying to keep drivers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic

To support drivers’ safety, DoorDash has implemented the following changes as a result of the pandemic:

  • Health guidance has been issued to drivers
  • All orders are no-contact by default
  • One million sets of hand sanitizer and gloves have been provided to dashers

Read our full Doordash review

3. Become a Postmates delivery driver

Postmates allows you to make deliveries by car, scooter, bike, or even on foot in some locations. Just like with DoorDash, you’ll pick up orders from stores and restaurants and make deliveries to customers. You keep 100% of your earnings for each delivery.

How Postmates works

Postmates was founded in 2011 and now serves 80% of U.S. households with more than 500,000 drivers in its fleet. Depending on your location, you may be offered delivery guarantees when you sign up, which ensures you’ll make a minimum amount for a certain number of deliveries.

As a driver for Postmates, you can make your own schedule, and Postmates will send you delivery offers anytime you’re online with the Fleet app. Just accept the order in the given timeframe and make your way to the restaurant or retailer. In some cases, the order will be ready to go, but for other merchants, you’ll need to place an order and pay for it with your automatically loaded Postmates Prepaid Card before making your delivery.

How to get started with Postmates

  1. Fill out your information in the app or online
  2. Authorize a background check
  3. Review the Fleet agreement
  4. Upload a profile photo
  5. Set up direct deposit
  6. Activate your Postmates Card once you receive your Welcome Kit
  7. Wait for your background check to clear, then start making deliveries

How much can you earn with Postmates?

Postmates ads state that you can earn up to $25 per hour driving for Postmates, but real earnings depend on your location, when you work, and what tips you receive. Postmates drivers get paid weekly via direct deposit, and instant deposit options are available as well.

How Postmates is trying to keep drivers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic

In consultation with the CDC and other officials, Postmates has implemented the following changes:

  • Non-contact deliveries are now available
  • Health guidance is provided to the fleet
  • Postmates Fleet Relief Fund is available to cover COVID-19 related medical expenses for drivers
  • Drivers needing to quarantine may be able to access two weeks of pay from the fund

Read our full Postmates review

4. Deliver with Shipt

If you enjoy shopping at retailers like Target and CVS, becoming a Shipt shopper could be a great way to earn extra income.

How Shipt works

Shipt launched in 2014 and is now available in more than 260 cities. The platform allows users to order groceries and other necessities from local retailers such as Target. As a Shipt shopper, you would be responsible for fulfilling and delivering those orders. You’ll need a smartphone, a vehicle, a valid license and insurance, and knowledge of produce selection to get started.

With Shipt, you can set your hours and be your own boss. Just set your location and availability in the app, either the same day or up to a week in advance, and Shipt will send you offers based on your custom schedule. You’ll visit the retailer, select the items, and pay for them with your Shipt card before making your delivery.

One unique aspect of Shipt is that you’ll be working with a community. You’ll be able to communicate with other shoppers, share tips, attend launch parties, and even snag a Shipt membership of your own.

How to get started with Shipt

  1. Apply online
  2. Complete an interview
  3. Get approved
  4. Download the app and start shopping

How much can you earn with Shipt?

Experienced shoppers make an average of $22 per hour, and some make even more than that. Actual earnings may vary and will depend on your location. You’ll see an estimate with each delivery offer that’s based on the amount of time it will take to complete. You’ll get weekly payments on Fridays via direct deposit.

How Shipt is trying to keep shoppers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic

Shipt is responding to the pandemic in the following ways:

  • Providing up to two weeks of pay for shoppers diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Providing shoppers with a daily set of mask and gloves, in partnership with Target
  • Waiving shopper ratings below five stars

5. Become a TaskRabbit tasker

If doing a variety of odd jobs sounds appealing to you, read on to find out how to earn as a TaskRabbit tasker. From yard work to grocery delivery to virtual assistance, there are myriad contactless ways you can earn money on the platform.

How TaskRabbit works

Founded in 2008, TaskRabbit is an online platform that connects users with all kinds of help, from moving to handyman services to furniture assembly. Since then, taskers have spent a combined 350,000 hours running errands for users, and so much more.

As a tasker, you’ll have the opportunity to run your own independent business with support from the platform. You’ll be able to create your own schedule and set your own rates. A one-time $25 registration fee is required, but after that, all fees are charged to clients instead of taskers.

Once you’re set up on the platform, TaskRabbit will notify you of potential jobs nearby, and you’ll be able to choose the ones you want to complete. Confirm the details with the client, complete the job, and submit your invoice to get paid.

How to get started with TaskRabbit

  1. Register online or on the Tasker app
  2. Set your skills, location, and availability
  3. TaskRabbit will verify your profile within about two business days
  4. Verify your identity
  5. Wait for an email with next steps

How much can you earn with TaskRabbit?

Unlike other platforms on our list, TaskRabbit allows you to set your own rates. If you’re just getting started and don’t have any reviews yet, you may need to set your rates on the low side, to begin with. Research what other taskers in your area are charging to get an idea of a fair rate.

How TaskRabbit is trying to keep taskers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic

TaskRabbit has taken a couple of steps to protect the tasker community during the pandemic:

Read our full TaskRabbit review

Delivering groceries and food during the COVID-19 pandemic: pros and cons

The pandemic may provide the opportunity to start a side hustle delivering groceries or food, but it also presents certain challenges. You’ll need to take precautions to protect your health and safety, and even with your best efforts, there’s a chance you could contract COVID-19 from interacting with customers. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons carefully before making your decision:

The pros

  • You create your own schedule
  • You have the ability to earn extra income
  • You can potentially take advantage of generous tipping
  • You’ll be helping others access necessary goods

The cons

  • You need to be cautious and wear personal protective equipment
  • There’s a possibility of contracting COVID-19
  • If you’re concerned about your health, this type of work could be anxiety-producing

The bottom line

If you have extra time on your hands, now could be a good time to start a side hustle. Delivering food and groceries as an essential worker is one option; virtual jobs are another. When deciding what’s right for you, consider both the perks and the risks of each opportunity.

The good news is, you need minimal or no experience to get started on the platforms we listed. And because you make your own hours, you’ll be able to use this type of work as a temporary solution until you get back to your regular job. Or you might find that you enjoy it enough to keep doing it on the side. No matter what you decide, we wish you the best of luck with your new gig.

Postmates Benefits

  • Get paid to go shopping and make deliveries
  • Be your own boss and set your own hours
  • Get paid weekly