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Grocery Shopping Tips During COVID-19

Woman shopping at a store with a mask during covid-19

Everyday life as we know it has changed – for the time being anyway.

With the public health concerns surrounding the transmission of the COVID-19 virus, what was once a simple trip to the store has turned into a more complicated, high-stakes excursion.

We’ve pulled together a four-part plan to help you shop for your groceries safely in the time of COVID-19. 

1. Strategize

Before you head out, take inventory of your fridge, freezer and pantry to identify everything you will need for the next week or two. Make a thorough grocery list – on paper, so you’re not repeatedly touching your phone in a public space. 

Woman using hand sanitizer

For the trip itself, pack a mask and gloves, as well as hand sanitizer and wipes to clean your hands and high-touch surfaces throughout your journey: the grocery cart or basket, steering wheel, car keys, payment cards etc.

Have a “sanitizing station” set up for when you arrive home with your groceries. While there is debate surrounding the need to clean your groceries, there are also reports of the virus’ ability to survive on surfaces and many opt to wipe packages and wash cans, bottles and produce for extra peace of mind. 

You can read more about how to sanitize groceries here – and of course, remember to wash your hands frequently with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds especially when you first arrive home after shopping. 

2. Organize

Keep an ongoing list of grocery and personal care items that need to be replenished as they run low, so nothing is forgotten when you’re making your list.  

Non-perishables are important to have on hand, and you can organize storage systems for perishable foods to promote their longevity.  

  • There are many online guides that can advise on the ideal conditions for fresh produce storage
  • The dairy council of Canada has recommendations for milk and dairy product storage.
  • Bread can be sliced and frozen (wrap thoroughly to avoid freezer burn). 
  • For dried beans and grains store in a cool, dark, and dry environment.
  • Meat and fish can be bought fresh in larger quantities, portioned into meal-sized quantities and then frozen for future use.
  • Potatoes and onions should be kept in a dark, cool place with airflow, but not right next to each other (it can lead to faster spoiling).

Health Canada provides guidelines on safe food storage, including best practices for refrigeration and freezing storage durations. 

3. Minimize

We must all work together to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 virus, this means taking precautions for your protection and the safety of others. 

Public health guidelines vary by province, but general recommendations are:

  • Wear a mask (and gloves) in public spaces (make your own cloth face masks using these Health Canada instructions and guidelines for safe use).
  • Adhere to social distancing from other customers and staff (two metres, or six feet.)
  • Don’t shop in groups – shop alone.
  • Sneeze or cough into a tissue and discard it safely into the garbage can or into your sleeve.
  • Try not to handle items unless you are purchasing them.
contactless delivery

Also – minimize the stops you need to make while shopping for food and try to consolidate your trips. Consider coordinating with other households for pickups on pre-placed orders and arrange for contactless drop-offs or curbside pickups. 

4. Empathize 

While we are all weathering this storm together, we don’t all have the same resources and are navigating this crisis the best we can. Even though stress levels are high right now, it’s important to practice empathy during this time. 

  • Be mindful of your impact on others. Wipe your cart, or basket handle after use, not just before and dispose of masks or gloves safely so others need not handle them. 
  • Hoarding and panic-buying has been deemed irresponsible and unnecessary, so don’t clear out the entire inventory.
  • Be aware of special shopping hours reserved for seniors and/or those with compromised immunity.
  • Practice patience, you may need to wait to get to a product if someone is already in the aisle. 
  • If you find yourself getting stressed or agitated, distance yourself and pause to take three mindful breaths or count to ten, whatever works best to help you reset. 
  • Be kind, compassionate and smile at others, even though you might be wearing a mask, friendly gestures are more important than ever. 
Retail store worker

Thank your essential workers! It’s important that we remember to be grateful and kind to the essential workers and retailers that are providing Canadians with safe and reliable access to food, supplements, and other supplies throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

Remember, not only are they working during a stressful time – but are at a greater risk than those staying at home. Be courteous in your actions and words – a sincere thank you will go a long way.  

A final note – it’s essential that you stay home if you’re feeling sick – arrange for a friend, family member or someone in your community to do the shopping for you. 

Follow these guidelines for your shopping experience to be safe, efficient and as pleasant as possible. Remember – these uncertain conditions won’t last forever and the more we adhere to public health guidelines, the faster our lives will shift back to normal. 

In the meantime, here are some ways to maintain health and happiness at home and when you have to leave home to shop – shop safely and stay healthy! 


In this article : #Shopping

As part of the senior leadership team, Michelle develops implements and leads communication initiatives that support the strategic priorities of the Association. She is responsible for overseeing the integrated communications strategy including both internal and external communications, the management of all public relations, marketing, advertising and member communications.