Tips for grocery shopping safety and success

Robert Smith-Adams
Robert Smith-Adams
Published on December 28, 2020

One thing that the pandemic has created is a multitude of ways to shop for groceries. We can shop our favorite grocery store online and then pick up our order curbside.

We can use a delivery service such as Instacart or Amazon. And, we can still shop in person.

All of the various methods require an eye toward safety. Today we offer some tips on how to keep safe and get what you need while grocery shopping during the pandemic.

Tips for grocery shopping in person

Tip #1: Visit safe grocery stores

“Avoid small stores with poor ventilation,” Leann Poston M.D., M.B.A., M.Ed., tells shefinds.com.

Even when it comes to larger stores with adequate ventilation, some are safer than others.

Ipsos, a global research firm, sent mystery shoppers to businesses across the nation to determine “… which brands have implemented adequate health and safety measures as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread.”

Top performers included Wells Fargo Bank, Panda Express and, in the grocery store category, Whole Foods.

“Employees at 76% of Whole Foods stores visited were seen actively cleaning high touch areas, as compared to an industry average of 59%,” according to the study.

Other top performers in the grocery category include:

  • Trader Joe’s
  • ShopRite
  • Costco

Tip #2: Make a plan

To avoid impulse buying, psychologists have long recommended that we consult a shopping list while at the grocery store.

Since we now have the need for speed while in an enclosed environment, that list is even more important.

The experts at the Riverside Hospitals group suggest that you use a paper shopping list “… so you’re not touching your phone over and over again and possibly spreading germs on it before you have a chance to clean it.”

Plan on visiting the store when fewer shoppers will be there. For most grocery stores, the best time is when they open. A recent Google analysis finds that the best time to shop is Mondays at 8 a.m. Avoid grocery stores on Saturday between noon-3 p.m.

Take disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer with you on your shopping trip. Use the wipes to wipe down the shopping cart and the hand sanitizer immediately after paying.

Avoid touching products you don’t intend on buying.

Don’t forget your mask and to remain at least 6 feet away from other shoppers.

Unpack your groceries immediately upon returning home and disinfect surfaces on which you placed the bags of groceries.

Wash your hands following the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.

Tips for ordering groceries online

Tip #1 Decide if you want delivery or curbside pickup

Either method involves a shopper picking out the items on your list and both methods are deemed safer than in-person shopping.

Some grocers’ shoppers are better than others, however, and it takes trial and error to find the right one for you.

Tip #2 Give your shopper options

It happens: some of what’s on your list may be out of stock at the store. Most large grocers provide space to list alternatives should your choices be out of stock. Use this space to not only provide those alternatives but other instructions as well.

To avoid receiving a dozen eggs that will expire in three days, jot a note to the shopper asking him or her to “please check the expiration date.”

Hate overripe bananas? Let the shopper know.

Tip #3 Use best practices for safety when bringing in your groceries

“Although the FDA states there is no evidence that food packaging is a transmission point, best practice is to transfer the food out of the packaging, dispose of packaging, and thoroughly wash hands,” cautions the experts at the National Safety Council.

“Finally, clean the area where the bag or packaging was resting.”

The average American goes to the grocery store 1.6 times a week and spends 44 minutes there, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

To remain safe, you’ll need to cut that time down to no more than 30 minutes, according to Linsey Marr, PhD, aerosol scientist at Virginia Tech (New York Times).

Shop like Mom is with you. “No dillydallying.”

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