You all know that I love writing but have been a little lax the past few months (hoping this springs back soon). I was so excited when Matt Satell of Little Bundle reached out and asked if he could contribute an article on my blog (squeeeee, virtual hugs and kisses because they are COVID safe!)
With the COVID-19 pandemic still sweeping the globe, staying home as much as possible is the best way to avoid catching or spreading the virus. But staying home all the time isn't an option for most people, many of whom have to go to work in offices and run errands.
Whether you prefer to select your own groceries or grocery delivery services aren't available in your area, here are six ways shopping tips to help you stay safe (and savvy) while going on your weekly grocery run.
#1: Follow CDC Guidelines
The number one tip isn't the most interesting, but it's the most important. You can go grocery shopping, spend time with your friends but you should always be mindful of the rules.
Wear a mask to minimize your risk of being infected, adhere to proper social distancing protocol, and make sure to wipe down all of your food containers with sanitizing wipes when you get home.
Another good piece of advice is to carry sanitizing wipes with you so you can wipe down the handles on your shopping cart before you touch it and clean your hands again before getting into your car and removing your mask. Be sure to sanitize again after touching the mask since you don't know exactly what might be on it.
Try to write down your grocery list on a piece of paper that you can dispose of so you are not always looking at your smartphone and touching the screen. It's easy to leave germs on the surface and forget to clean your phone before using it again once you've removed your mask.
#2: Know Your Grocery Store's Guidelines
Some grocery stores still have early hours for seniors and the immunocompromised. If you are part of either group, call your local grocery store to find out when their early hours start. If your stores no longer open early, go during off-peak times. Immediately after the store first opens and right before the store's closing time are generally the best times to shop, plus the early-to mid- afternoon hours between lunch and work letting out.
Look online to see if your store offers a store map, which can help plan your shopping aisle by aisle. That way, you can skip aisles you don't need to browse, reducing the amount of time you will spend in the store. I also recommend shopping alone, which isn't as much fun as going with a friend, but it can lower your risk of exposure.
With more and more people becoming environmentally conscious, most of us shop with reusable grocery bags these days. However, some grocery stores have banned their use during the pandemic, so you should make sure you know the ground rules before you go in carrying your favorite shopping bags.
#3: Buy Shelf-Stable Items Online
One of the best ways to cut down on the amount of time you will spend in the store is to purchase some of your products online. You should buy fresh ingredients like meat and produce in-store, but you can buy vitamins, supplements and shelf-stable foods from Amazon, Target or even from your favorite drugstore. If you have Amazon Prime, you will only have to wait a couple of days to receive your items. Best of all, you can use plug-ins like Wikibuy and Honey to save money when you shop online. Extensions like these run quietly in the background to help you find the best deals on the products you need, so you won't have to spend your valuable time clipping coupons.
#4: Shop Healthfully
Even during a pandemic, try to prioritize healthier foods over shelf-stable, processed foods. Stock up on pantry staples like nuts, seeds, nut butter, quinoa, oatmeal, rice and beans but always remember to check labels for your allergy needs. If you want to stock up on canned goods, try to look for low-sodium soups and vegetables and no-sugar-added fruits or freeze-dried fruits.
Give your freezer a good clean-out before you go shopping. Throw out any expired foods and get rid of the items you don't enjoy but haven't tossed into the trash because you keep telling yourself you will eat them someday. Make room for nutrient-rich foods like chicken, beef and frozen fruits and vegetables.
As Hippocrates said, "Let food be thy medicine". Bolstering your immune system is more critical now than ever, so you should stock up on healthy foods that you love.
#5: Be Mindful at the Checkout and at Home
When it's time to check out, it's better to use the self-checkout rather than opting for an aisle with a cashier. You can scan any coupons that you have at a self-checkout machine for additional savings.
Use a credit card or debit card to pay rather than cash, as you don't want to have to touch bills and coins that might be contaminated. Make sure to disinfect your hands after touching the PIN pad to enter your number, as PIN pads are as dirty as public toilets. Even better, use tap-to-pay methods like Apple/Google Pay or the NFC chips built into some credit cards.
Once you have done the shopping and returned home, it's time to unpack your groceries. Some experts recommend wiping down your purchases, but more recently there hasn't been as much focus on that as an important preventative measure. It never hurts to be safe rather than sorry. Make sure you wipe down the surfaces after unpacking as well.
#6: Use a Grocery Delivery Service
Unlike shelf-stable goods that can be purchased from Target or Amazon, perishables usually have to be bought in-store. Thankfully, grocery delivery services like Instacart and Shipt will pick up your items directly in the store and deliver them to your home same day.
Many delivery services have the option of touchless delivery, meaning they'll leave your items on your front porch without any face-to-face interaction, minimizing your risk of exposure while allowing you to get the fresh foods that you want.
You should plan ahead when you are using a grocery delivery service and create meal plans ahead of time. Because these services often charge a delivery fee, ordering multiple deliveries can add up fast. When you have all of your pantry essentials, you can order your perishables through a grocery delivery service, which is the best way to ensure you meet all of your dietary needs while reducing your exposure to the virus.
Thanks again to Matt and his team at Little Bundle. Little Bundle is made without chemicals or corn syrup and offers anti-reflux and hypoallergenic formulas. You can find them on the web, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.