Be a Smart and Safe Grocery Shopper

Here are a few good tips and advice from the professionals.
Posted on May 5, 2020
Healthy diet on a budget

I just love the Jackie Chan movie Tuxedo. It’s an action-comedy where Jackie plays a personal chauffeur of a spy who has a special tuxedo that gives the wearer super-hero capabilities. In the movie, Jackie uses the tuxedo to give himself martial arts skills and the abilities to move really fast and acrobatically, too. He also defeats the bad guys and gets the girl in the happy ending.

While it’s as silly and fun as it sounds (it’s complete escapism), I used to find myself wishing I was wearing that tuxedo when I first entered a grocery story after the COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown started. But after some online research that I always find handy, I have developed my own “powers” that are more common sense than magical.

Start with a plan

Nothing can put you more at ease and in control than a plan. For me, that includes the objective of getting in and out of the store in as fast amount of time as possible. No more lazy strolls down the aisles for me, at least not during social distancing rules.

The next part of my plan is to first develop a menu of the meals I intend to make. That also means I know exactly what I am shopping for, which also minimizes the time in the grocery store and keeps to your budget. And with a recession likely already underway, it sure helps your personal finances being frugal, too.

For those thinking they might need an emergency supply kit, the Department of Homeland Defense has some excellent suggestions. Click here to see their recommendations.

Shop early

So, the first step of my plan is to go grocery shopping in the morning hours, right when the store opens. This gives me the best selections of products, since the store was stocked overnight. For those 60+ years of age, your grocery store might have senior hours, allowing you to enter before anyone else.

Shop safe

Of course, staying safe while in the store is very important. That means bringing a few extra items to protect yourself from COVID-19 exposure, like wearing a mask and bringing disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer.

Staying safe starts with wearing a mask at all times out of your car. You should not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your hands, unless you have just washed or disinfected them. Wipe down the shopping cart with the disinfectant wipes before using. Use a credit or debit card to pay for purchases, to avoid handling cash or coins. Before using the touchpad to pay for your purchases, wipe it down with a disinfectant wipe.

Some might prefer to use an outdoor farmer’s market for a lot of good reasons, including getting farm-to-table fresh perishable items. This can make sense, just as long as you can maintain the recommended six feet of social distance and you don’t have to handle cash.

Shop smart

Get the non-perishable items first. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has an excellent article on getting groceries. (Just overlook the fact the folks on their cover picture are not wearing masks!)

For some, skipping the grocery store visit altogether is the smartest idea. That means using a variety of remote delivery shopping services, like:

  • Google Shopping – non-perishable items only, but available everywhere and free with an order of $35 or more
  • Amazon Fresh – available in 2,000 cities and free with an order of $35 or more
  • Walmart Groceries – available in 1,600 cities, fees range from $7.95 to $9.95 or free with Walmart Delivery Unlimited subscription
  • Instacart – available in 40 states, $3.99 fee with an order of $10 or more or free with an Instacart subscription
  • Or check to see if your grocery store supports curbside pickup

Save money

First and foremost, don’t stock up with more than what you might need for a 30-days, which is more than twice the 14-days normally allocated for personal quarantine. This also saves you money not wasted on purchases that will last longer than that.

Stay calm

We are not living in a movie. It just feels like it. But like the movie Tuxedo, believe in the happy ending. I do.

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