Man delivering groceries.

Smart Tips For Grocery Shopping During COVID-19

4-minute readUPDATED: September 21, 2020

Staying indoors all the time isn’t that simple when you need to venture into the world for necessities like groceries. For most of us, walking among other people is a requirement to get food.

While COVID-19 is all-encompassing, you can take proper safety precautions before you go to the store and while you’re grocery shopping. Here’s how to make smart choices when it comes to heading out.

Pre-Grocery Shopping

Take a few extra steps before venturing out to save yourself time and stress when you get to the store.

Organize Your Shopping List

If you’re not used to shopping with a list, now is the time to start. You can stick to a regular old pen and paper or use your phone’s Notes app. Use your prep time to go over all the things you need for the next few days or even couple of weeks. This helps limit your time in stores as well as your exposure.

Go To The Store At Odd Hours

If you’re working from home or facing reduced hours, use your time wisely and hit the store when it’s not as busy. Try going right when your store opens or close to it, before the rush of people come in. Many stores are open before some people wake up.

Go To The Store Alone

While shopping with your family pre-COVID was a normal, natural trip, that’s no longer the case. If you can, do your best to leave the family at home and go shopping on your own. You’ll spend less time in the store while limiting your family’s exposure to others.

Be Quick And Efficient

If you’ve been in lockdown for a few months, those precious grocery trips might be all you have. But now isn’t the time to browse the aisles. Avoid leisurely walking around or looking for new products to try.

Order Online

If you have the means, you can try ordering your groceries for delivery. Many stores have this option, usually through a delivery partner. While there’s an extra charge and some products cost more than if you were to go to the store, it saves you time and stress caused by going yourself.

You can also try ordering your groceries online and using the store pick-up option.

What To Do When You’re At The Store

Once you get to the store, you’ll need to follow some new guidelines, whether requested by stores or required.

Wipe Down Your Shopping Cart

Most grocery stores have wipes available at the front of the store to wipe down your shopping cart. If you don’t see any available, ask an associate for cart wipes. If you don’t want to linger, bring your own wipes to sanitize your cart.

Wear A Mask

Wearing a mask is one of the most effective ways to limit COVID-19 exposure and transmission. Since social distancing isn’t always possible –like when you’re passing people in and out of the store, for example – wear a mask to protect yourself and others.

Gloves might be a good idea if you know how to wear and dispose of them correctly, but using hand sanitizer and washing your hands frequently before and after your visit will also help you stay safe.

Maintain Social Distancing

Many stores have outlined safe shopping protocol, including one-way aisles and marked check-out spots for customers to stand at while waiting. But you can also do your part by practicing social distancing as much as possible. For example, if someone is at the meat or deli counter, stand a few feet away from them so you aren’t crowding the area.

Limit The Surfaces You Touch

If you’re one for finding the perfect package, you’re probably reaching around, touching every item before you get the right one. While the first one or two items at the front might be the most touched ones, try to limit the surfaces you touch, including shelves and products. Avoid shuffling items around and instead pick one that looks good enough and move on.

If you want to get items at the back – the ones that probably have the least contact with other people –push other items with your arms instead of your hands to avoid touching packages you aren’t taking with you.

Use A Credit Or Debit Card

Plenty of grocers have introduced touchless payments through your phone and wearable devices. If you haven’t added credit or debit card information to your phone’s wallet, you may want to consider it. Your card’s chip may also allow touchless payment by simply holding it up to the payment terminal.

If you don’t have the option to pay through your phone’s wallet, your watch or by holding your card to the terminal, swipe your credit or debit card instead of paying in cash. It not only limits exposure to the cashier but anyone else who handles that money after them. If you need to press buttons on the keypad, use hand sanitizer after the fact and wash your hands as soon as you’re able. Sanitize your card as well.

Post-Grocery Shopping Tips

The precautions don’t end after you’ve left the store. Wipe down your phone, sanitize your hands and keep going.

Rinse Produce

This might be something you already do even if you weren’t living through a global pandemic. It’s always a good idea to thoroughly rinse your produce before consuming it. Even if the product states it’s already been washed, now is the time to take extra precautions and clean it up to your standards.

Wipe Down Boxes And Containers

While most stores require shelf stockers to wear masks and gloves, you can go the extra mile by wiping down boxes and containers that your goods are packaged in. This will give you peace of mind knowing that you’ve taken the time to clean your things as well as you can.

Clean And Sanitize Counters

After you’ve put away all your goods, take the time to clean and sanitize your countertops, tables and other surface areas where your groceries were.

It’s also a good idea to thoroughly clean your hands as often as necessary. Keep hand sanitizer in the car and use it before and after your shopping trips. When you get home, wash your hands immediately.