Tips for Safer Grocery Shopping

PLAN AHEAD

1. Stay home if you don’t feel well.

The symptoms for COVID-19 vary, but fever and cough are most common. Some people with the virus have mild symptoms while others don’t feel sick at all. If you have symptoms or if you just don’t feel well – even if you’re just feeling “a little off” – PLEASE STAY HOME. Today is not your day to go out in public or to the grocery store.

2. Limit trips to buy groceries. A shopping list helps.

Limiting your trips to the store is important! Every time you visit the grocery store, you increase your exposure to others and your risk for COVID-19. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend that you plan to buy 1- to 2 weeks-worth of groceries at a time.

Scan your refrigerator and cupboards for what you need or want and start making a list! Good Housekeeping and nutrition.gov have some great suggestions for budget friendly and nutritious foods.  We also suggest these tips:

  • Stock up on non-perishables such as frozen vegetables, meats you can freeze, beans, and grains.
  • Make sure you add any toiletries, household cleaners (bleach is very effective), and medicines you might need.
  • Check in with others in your home to see if they need to add anything to the list.
  • Remember the pets! Make sure Fido and Fifi are covered.
  • Organize your list in a way that will help you get through the store the fastest. You don’t want to linger in the store or walk up and down every aisle. Be strategic!

3. Leave the family at home.

For the same reasons you should limit your trips to the store, you should limit who goes with you. If you are a couple, only one of you at a time needs to shop. If you have children and someone who lives with you can watch the kids, please don’t take them with you.

4. Choose a time when the grocery store is less crowded.

Many stores now have special hours for people over age 60 or those of any age with underlying health conditions.

5. Consider not bringing your own shopping bags.

I know – this is exactly the opposite of what you usually hear! However, more and more stores are asking people to leave their reusable shopping bags at home. The primary concern is reusable bags may further spread the coronavirus in the store, to employees, and to other shoppers. If you do bring your own bags, the FDA reminds us to please wash them between use. Also, be prepared to bag your own groceries – some stores will not allow baggers to handle reusable shopping bags.

6. Do consider bringing your own disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer.

The CDC recommends disinfecting your shopping cart before use and washing your hands frequently. Bringing your own supplies will guarantee that they are available when you need them.

7. Plan for how you will pay.

How you pay at the check makes a difference. Some methods are better at reducing your exposure to the virus. If possible, use a touchless system such as phone app that lets you tap your phone to pay. If you must touch the PIN pad or handle cash, be sure to use hand sanitizer after!

8. Bring your face mask or cloth covering.

It is recommended by federal, state, and local health officials that everyone wear a mask when in indoor public places or anytime it is difficult to maintain proper social distancing. When you buckle your seatbelt, or start your walk to the store, ask yourself “Do I have my face mask?”

Don’t have a mask? Visit the Montrose County JIC page for easy instructions on how to make and wear a face mask.

AT THE STORE

9. Put on your mask!

10. Think twice about wearing gloves.

You may have seen people at the grocery store wearing disposable gloves and wondered if gloves could help protect you from contracting COVID-19. Well, that depends! In many cases, wearing gloves may simply provide a false sense of security, and the person would be better off not wearing them and just using hand sanitizer. Some tips for effective glove use:

  • Just because you’re wearing gloves does not mean you can touch your face. Your gloves will be covered in germs that will be transferred to whatever surface you touch – your face, your phone, your glasses, your wallet, your steering wheel, your child.
  • Don’t reach into your purse, bag, or pockets with your gloves on. Take off your gloves, use hand sanitizer, get what you need, and put a fresh pair of gloves on.
  • Dispose of your gloves after use and immediately wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. You should do this before you get into your car so you don’t touch your keys, door handle, seat belt, and steering wheel with germy gloves.

11. Disinfect your shopping cart.

Stores often have disinfecting wipes ready by the entry door. However, if they are out, you will be glad you have your own. The FDA provides easy instructions on how to wipe down your cart.

12. Whenever possible, maintain 6 feet distance from others.

Wearing a face mask does not eliminate the need to maintain proper social distancing while shopping. Keep at least 6 feet between you, other shoppers, and store employees. Always keep your hands away from your face.

AFTER SHOPPING

13. Wash hands or use hand sanitizer.

Use hand sanitizer after you finish loading groceries into your car or truck. When you arrive home, wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap, and again after you have put your groceries away.

15. Putting food safely away at home.

According to the FDA and CDC, there is no evidence of food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19. However, if you wish, you can wipe down product packaging and allow it to air dry as an extra precaution. COVID-19 or not, we all have a role to play in food safety. For general tips on how to shop safely, store food, and prevent foodborne illnesses, see the FDA’s Tip for Grocery Shopping and Storage sheet.

14. Consider alternatives to going to the grocery store.

If you can, avoid stores all together!

  • Delivery or Curbside Pick-up – Many grocery stores are offering delivery service or curbside pick-up.
  • Farmers Markets are considered essential according to State Department of Health Guidance.  Check your local farmers market online for opening day announcements.

**Content Credit Skagit County, Washington

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