Grocery Shopping Safely During Coronavirus

Social distancing is required as a survival tactic to prevent the spread of Covid-19, but we're all still going to need to go grocery shopping at some point. The trick is to do it safely, without unnecessarily risking chance of infection to yourself or spreading the virus to others. Since I'm heading off to the store later today, I figured I'd assemble some of what I've picked up as must have Do's and Don'ts on getting the supermarket grocery shopping done while staying safe.

FIRST - Go Only if You Must
  • First and foremost, go grocery shopping as little as possible.
  • If you can limit your number of trips to the store, you'll limit your exposure.
  • Go solo. Do not bring others with you unless you have to. Limiting exposure to just yourself reduces the chance of carrying the virus home or infecting others while out.

What to Bring
  • Bring hand sanitizer / germicide and use it on your hands and on the shopping cart before AND after you're finished shopping.
  • Avoid handling cash if you can, bring and use credit or debit options. This reduces the amount of direct interactions you have to have with the checkout person.
  • There are two schools of thought on reusable bags right now. There are bag shortages at some stores, so bringing them could be smart. But if you don't disinfect your bags, and don't plan on disinfecting them before you go to the store, leave them at home during the pandemic.

What to Buy
  • Look for shelf-stable nutritious foods that will keep a long time, and that make filling meals.
  • Dried beans, pasta, canned goods, rice, legumes/beans, peanut butter are top priority.
  • Don't hoard what you don't plan on using within 2 weeks. Grocery stores and pharmacies will remain operational.
  • Try to buy what you can integrate into your usual routine, rather than unusual items that you'd not otherwise go for.
  • Dry, cured meats, canned meats and fish, frozen vegetables and fruits are great additions.
  • Freeze fresh meats for later use.
  • Potatoes, carrots, and cabbage will last a long time in the refrigerator.
  • Don't hoard water. Your tap and filters will still work perfectly fine. This isn't an earthquake or hurricane, the water will continue to flow to your home.
  • Don't hoard toilet paper. You can do away with nearly all of your toilet paper by adding a bidet to your commode. Pick one up on relatively inexpensively from Amazon or one of the home improvement stores to install with a minimum of handiness. Treat yourself with a sparkling clean butt.

How to Shop for Groceries
  • Do not crowd the aisles. Be mindful and patient of where others are.
  • Use the self-checkout option if it is available.
  • Keep a minimum of 6 feet away from other people. Use the "Two shopping cart" rule, and don't come within two shopping cart's length of each other. This will require patience if someone is looking over food that you want to buy.
  • If the store allows for pickup or delivery to your door or curbside, that's the most preferable. Be prepared to accept substitutes if your preferred brands are not available.
  • Look, but don't touch! Don't touch anything in the grocery store / supermarket until you've decided affirmatively to buy it. You can assume that anything you pick up will have been touched by a minimum of 10 other people before you, just to get it on the shelves.
  • For those in the United States, avoid purchasing items marked WIC - as these are items approved for the Women, Infants, Children program for low income families and there may not be substitutes.
  • Be utmost kind and generous to the checkout cashier, stockers, and service staff. However rough this is for you, this is considerably more difficult for them.

When to Shop for Groceries
  • Go in the off-hours if you can. The fewer people present, the lower the chance of infection.
  • Check with your local store for adjusted hours before you go. Many stores have limited their usual hours of operation due to the pandemic.
  • If you do have your groceries delivered, don't do a direct hand-off. Instead, have them placed on your door step or into the car.
  • For Deliveries, be patient as most services are experiencing very high demand.

After You Finish Shopping for Groceries
  • Wash your hands before you leave for the store. Use hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes before you get in your car to drive away from the store. Wash your hands immediately upon returning home from the store.
  • Before putting your food away, give it a once-over with a sanitizing wipe, or paper towel with disinfectant or soap. According to the BBC, Coronavirus can live on cardboard for up to 24 hours. Take that into account before shelving that box of Cheez-Its.
  • Rinse the produce you buy with running water. For hard-skinned stuff, scrub. For leafy greens, a quick soak and rinse.
  • Did you wash your hands? You cannot wash your hands enough. Wash your hands after you've put your shopping away.
Follow these handy tips, and you should be better protected and safer during your trip to the local supermarket. Happy (and safe) shopping, friends!


Edit: Updated to include the latest information on how to handle produce after purchasing.
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Jan 1, 2020
i wear latex gloves & wash them when I get home & wear my mask as well while shopping then once ive taken off my gloves wash my hands & put gel on
Nov 11, 2019
i wear latex gloves & wash them when I get home & wear my mask as well while shopping then once ive taken off my gloves wash my hands & put gel on

Gloves are great, and so is a mask - but if you don't have these, don't go out and purchase them right now. Keep the supply for healthcare professionals available. You're best served by washing your hands as often as possible.
Mar 14, 2020
too many hoarders and capitlists trying to benefit financially on the suffering of others. You cannot find masks or gloves every often any more. I used my bandana I also wear glasses (any will do) and I used my ski gloves. Most important is to avoid having exposed sking and when u get home, throw everything in the washer including shoes or leave them out side.
Jan 1, 2020
Wheneve Ive been to hospital appointments I wear my masks . And when I get home I put my clothes in the wash for extra safety

Our PM Boris Johnson & the medical team =chief medical officers have all basically ordered us all to self isolate & only make necessary journeys (like shopping -weve got to eat)

mum told me tht even though the shops were opening at 6.30am -there are stil queues of people all doing the same & it might be stores may resort to having the police /military personnel to keep the peace so people dont steal food from the trolleys theyve not been able to get them from the shelves -people will resort to that if needs be - its nowbattle of the survival
Mar 20, 2020
Gloves are great, and so is a mask - but if you don't have these, don't go out and purchase them right now. Keep the supply for healthcare professionals available. You're best served by washing your hands as often as possible.

I wear thin rubber work gloves that I bought from Harbor Freight & Tools when I go shopping. They're not the type that medical personnel use.
Jan 1, 2020
It is impossible to get latex gloves/masks over here now but thankfully mum had some way before the corona virus was known - obviously I keep washing my hands & with gel
Mar 23, 2020
I grew up with a pantry and I keep basic supplies but do not hoard. The people in my area are not taking this very seriously so when shopping I sometimes gently hold out my cane to show my safe zone (and the safe zone of others whether they know it or not).My cane plus the length of my arm is about 6 feet. Today I decided to go to the grocery store at 9PM. Less than half a dozen people and I got a lot of personal service. Grocery and pharmacy is about the extent of my travels lately. When this is over I'm going to hug a lot of people....even strangers!
Nov 11, 2019
Yesterday I found this great YouTube video that walks through how to properly disinfect items you bring home while shopping, and some other great tips. Take a look!

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