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Shopping safely during the COVID-19 pandemic

Getting the shopping done while trying to keep your distance from others can be a stressful experience


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in news


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During the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, we’re being asked to spend less time outside and keep our distance from other people. This means it’s harder to drop into the shops to pick something up, and we want to spend less time in there.

There’s no need to stockpile food or supplies, because shops are being restocked all the time. Stockpiling leads to more waste and prevents others from being able to get the things they need, including healthcare workers and vulnerable people.

Here’s some advice for making the most of your weekly shop to reduce how often you need to buy food.

Can you get the coronavirus from the shopping?

SafeFood.eu have said that there is no need to disinfect the packaging of food because there is no evidence that the virus can be transmitted this way. However, it is very important that you wash your hands and follow good food hygiene advice when it comes to washing produce like fruit and vegetables with water before use and cooking food properly.

It is really important to follow the social distancing guidelines in the shop to reduce the risk of spreading the virus and to protect yourself and other people. Washing your hands when you get home from the shops is also essential.

Here are some ways you can make sure you're doing the grocery shopping safely:

Make sure you are feeling well

Do not go to the shops if you are feeling unwell, because this could put other people at risk of getting sick. If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), you will need to self-isolate and anyone you live with will need to restrict their movements. If possible, see if someone who lives nearby can help you with the shopping, or reach out to a volunteer group who can do shopping for people who are unable to leave their homes.

Follow the distancing guidelines

Many shops and supermarkets will now have markers on the ground telling you where to stand to keep 2 metres apart from other people. They will only let a certain number of customers in at a time, and will usually ask people to use hand sanitiser at the door before they enter. Try to follow these guidelines when you're inside the shop and give people space. If you have to pass someone, try to do it quickly.

Wipe down baskets or trolleys

If you are using a basket or a trolley for your shopping, wipe it down before you use it and when you put it back. Some supermarkets will have staff sanitising all of the trolleys before handing them over to customers, but it is always a good idea to carry some antibacterial wipes just in case.

Avoid staying longer than you need to

Once you have what you need, head straight to the check-out instead of browsing for more. Although it can be nice to run into someone you know or have a chat with the cashier, during this pandemic it's best to avoid spending time talking to people. If you see someone you know, you can say hello, but avoid standing around the aisles talking. This prevents other people from being able to pass, and can put you both at risk.

Wash your hands when you get home

The first thing you should do when you get home is thoroughly wash your hands. Once your hands are clean you can put your shopping away.

How to do your grocery shop during COVID-19

Here are some ways to make the weekly shop a less stressful experience:

Make a shopping list

Creating a meal plan and knowing what will go into each meal means you can have a list of exactly what you need when you go shopping. This way, you’re less likely to forget something, and you can reduce food waste by only buying what you need. It can also help you to stay within your budget.

If you do a meal plan and discover you already have most of what you need at home, hold off on going to the shops until you actually need to go.

Find out about making a meal plan.

Stay calm in the shops

Shopping while trying to keep your social distance from other people can be a stressful experience. If someone comes too close to you, try to stay calm. You can move to another part of the store and return when that area is clear. Try not to feel rushed, because you could end up forgetting something - just stick to your list and do your best to stay away from others. 

Get the essentials

Take note of condiments and food that you use a lot - for example, salt and pepper, ketchup, tinned tomatoes, beans, chickpeas, lentils, and other tinned goods - and make sure you have enough in supply. Again, there’s no need to stockpile because the shops will always be open and have these things available, but if you’re running low, make sure to get what you need to keep you going for a week or so.

Find out about store cupboard essentials.

Make use of your freezer and leftovers

If you buy anything that you’re not going to use straight away, and that is safe to freeze, it’s a good idea to stick it in your freezer straight away. This helps to reduce food waste and keep things fresh. Making use of leftovers is also a great idea - if you bulk-cook or make extra food, you can put it in the fridge to eat the next day, or freeze it to have another time. 

Find out12 tips for using your freezer, and learn how to cook safely with leftovers.

Feeling overwhelmed or anxious around the current pandemic?

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Published April 1st2020
Last updated June 7th2020
Tags covid-19
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.
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