Experts Share Tips for Safer Grocery Shopping In The Time of Coronavirus

We remember when we used to go on a trip to the grocery store basically whenever we felt like it without really thinking too much about it. For example, if we ran out of our kids’ favorite cereal, we’d go pick up a box and grab a few other things while we were there. 

A couple days later, maybe we’d do a more intense shopping trip with an actual list that we probably ended up forgetting at home. More often than not, we had to go to 2 or 3 stores to get everything we wanted or to take advantage of weekly store deals.

Times have changed, at least, they’ve changed temporarily. We try to avoid stores now that the novel coronavirus is sweeping across the country and the world. Our communities have shut down as much as possible. While grocery stores remain open, we can’t help but worry about the risk of picking up or spreading germs while we’re there.

Unless you stockpiled enough food and supplies to last until summer, you probably need to pick up groceries too, and you’re probably wondering how to do that while minimizing risk. 

Watch the video below to learn some valuable tips from public health experts.

As mentioned in the video, you can still spread germs even if you’re wearing gloves. For example, if you wear gloves to the grocery store and touch something with coronavirus germs on it and then touch your phone, well, now the germs are on your phone. Be sure to wash your hands and clean anything you may have touched (like your phone and credit cards) after shopping.

Unless your pantry is completely empty and you desperately need food today, if at all possible, it’s a good idea to order food online for pickup. There is usually a small delivery fee, but when you consider the time you’re saving by avoiding stores and the much lower risk, it’s literally a small price to pay. The downside is that a lot more people than usual are turning to delivery options, so you may have to wait several days (we’ve seen wait times up to a week) before your food is delivered.

A spokesperson for the CDC told Time that “if you have any symptoms of illness, please stay home to protect your own health, as well as the health of others.” Therefore, having your groceries delivered (either by a service or a friend) when you are sick at all is essential.

A similar but slightly different option is store pickup. While you still have to drive to the store, some stores will let you order online, and once you arrive, they bring your order directly to your car. You don’t even have to leave your car, and some stores don’t even charge a fee for this service. 

If you must go to a store, be sure to practice social distancing and take advantage of the sanitizing wipes many stores are now providing (or bring your own). Wipe down the handle and other surfaces on the cart because you don’t know if someone coughed or sneezed on it. 

The CDC is now recommending that people who are not sick wear non-medical masks when they go shopping. Don’t have a mask? You can easily make one whether you can sew or not

If you’re able to pay without using cash, do so, and if you can do self-checkout, even better. Be considerate of cashiers who often don’t have enough room to practice social distancing; although, some stores have now set up partitions to protect their cashiers.

If you’re in a high risk group, take advantage of store hours set aside specifically for you. Many stores open an hour or so early just for high risk shoppers. You can avoid crowds and enjoy the stores when they are as clean and stocked as they can be. 

If you’re not high risk, call your local store and ask when it tends to be the least crowded. Try to shop at that time. Not only will you be in and out of the store faster, but you will also find it easier to practice social distancing. 

While hoarding food and supplies is not recommended, it is a good idea to try to limit your shopping to one store once a week. If the store happens to be out of something on your list, even if it’s your kids’ favorite cereal, try to find a substitute that will work for your family.

Stay safe out there, and stay home unless that trip to the store really is essential.