Tips for grocery shopping during the pandemic

Arkansas News

EL DORADO, Ark. (04/07/20) — Health officials are urging the public to limit the number of times you go to the grocery stores and pharmacy.

“If you can consolidate, if you can send one person, the entire family doesn’t need to go out on these occasions,” White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx said. “You know, maybe once every two weeks we can do a grocery store and pharmacy shop for the entire family.”

For some, that recommendation hasn’t been so easy because many are still flocking to the stores. Katie Frizell, a family and consumer sciences agent said shoppers should scale back.

“We do not need to go to the store unless it’s absolutely necessary,” she said. “Needing one or two things is not a reason to go out and go to the store. Wait until you need to buy in bulk.”

The best thing you can do is make a grocery list that way you can cut down on unnecessary trips and unnecessary contact.

“Take an inventory of what you already have so you need to know what’s already in your pantry, fridge and freezer,” she said.

First, Frizell says you have to plan out your meals for the week. One mom says that’s been one of her struggles. With all of the chaos at the stores during the pandemic, she’s beginning to see the benefit.

“I think it’s absolutely necessary especially in order to keep from having to go back to the store because you forgot an ingredient or I decided to change the meal at the last minute,” Avis Smith said.

Frizell also recommends designating one person to go to the store and don’t take your children. Smith is a wife and mother. She takes her child with her in the store only if she has to.

“There have been times where my husband will stay in the car with her or he will be the one to go in the store and I’ll stay in the car with her,” she said.

Smith knows that it’s hard for single parents to do that. She recommends those who don’t have access to a second person to carry the child if you’re able to do so and keep them close.

“That’s just to keep them from touching things and trying to push the basket,” she said. “That limits their exposure.”

Many grocery stores have already utilized curb-side pick up. Frizell suggests people take advantage of those opportunities and even begin shopping at smaller stores.

“If you’re used to shopping at a big name store try a smaller grocery store,” she said. “People are flocking to the big stores and neglecting the smaller stores. Not only will this promote local businesses, it will also save you a lot headache too because the lines aren’t going to be as long there.”

With stores limiting the number of items each family can take, meal planning can be difficult when you’re looking for certain items in the store. Frizell says that’s where families will have to find a substitute.

“If you’re out of meat try eating beans,” she said. “You can find out other sources of protein. You may not be able to get all of your favorite things whenever you want them but that’s one of the sacrifices you’ll have to make during this time.”

Frizell also recommends the following tips:

  • Wear protective gear like gloves and a mask
  • Follow the 6 ft. advisory rule
  • If you have elderly people in your family and neighborhood shop for them
  • Use your own reusable bags
  • Change clothes when you get home from the store. If you’re wearing a handmade masks, wash it with your clothes and your bags. Use hot water to kill the germs
  • If you would like to wipe down your packages, do that before you bring them inside your home
  • It’s recommended to wash produce but if you feel the need, you can wash them water and use a designated brush to clean. You don’t have to soap or vinegar.

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