It’s been over a month now that we have been struggling with social distancing and staying at home and I think I finally have my grocery shopping down pat. At the beginning, I have to admit, my trips to the grocery store were a disaster. I was still making a few trips a week because I realized despite all of the food that I had, I didn’t have the right items to put together a meal. My grocery shopping was taking over an hour because I was trying to plan meals on the fly. I couldn’t get the plastic produce bag open for the life of me without first licking my fingers. Half way through my journey, inevitably I would realize one of my items was back where I started and it was impossible to get there without going the opposite direction of the arrows in the aisles. I was overheated after spending so much time in the store with my winter coat on. I was touching everything from my face to my phone and all of my purse contents when looking for my shopping list, bank and rewards card. I am proud to say that I have now become very efficient to the point where I feel I can share the following tips based on my experience:
Plan for only one trip to the grocery store per week.
If your schedule if flexible, try not go to the grocery store at peak times when it is crowded. Most stores are now limiting the number of people they will allow in at one time and you will waste a lot of time waiting outside in a line-up.
You MUST have a shopping list. If you are standing looking at the shelves while you make a decision, plan to have some angry/inpatient people breathing down your neck.
Group the items on your list by sections of the grocery store. This will save you from having to back track and go the wrong way down the aisles thus avoiding mean stares from other shoppers. If you can’t remember where items are located in your grocery store, typically fresh items such as fruit/vegetables, meat, dairy products and baked goods are on the perimeter of the store, and packaged goods such as breakfast cereals, crackers, pasta, canned goods and baking supplies are in the centre aisles.
You will not be able to make a complete grocery list unless you have put some effort into meal planning in advance.
The day before your planned grocery day, sit down with your favorite recipes and family members and plan the menus for the week.
Ensure you have planned balanced meals and snacks that include all of the food groups: protein foods, whole grains and fruits and vegetables. Don’t forget to include a couple of treats as well, it’s all about moderation!
For variety, plan your dinner meals based on the different proteins (meat, fish, poultry, legumes/lentils, eggs, tofu, nuts/seeds or their butters) or ways of preparing (stir-fry, slow cooker, BBQ etc.) or by theme (meatless Monday, taco Tuesday, fish on Friday etc.)
Take inventory of your pantry before you go shopping to see what you already have on hand and what you need to purchase. You don’t want to spend time buying items you already have at home. Try to be considerate of your neighbours and avoid stockpiling!
Dress appropriately. Wear an appropriate mask and gloves and a light-weight jacket. If you are wearing a mask and gloves, you will get hot fairly quickly. Use rubber/vinyl gloves so you can get the produce bags open with ease. For women, if you have long hair, tie or clip it back so you don’t have to touch your face to move it out of your way! The good news is, you don’t need to put on lipstick if you are wearing a mask.
Put your grocery list, bank card and rewards card in your pocket so you don’t have to rummage through your purse and don’t use your phone to call or text while wearing your gloves.
Stand in the designated social distancing locations in the check-out line and stay behind the barrier between you and the cashier.
Finally, make sure you save all of your menu plans. When this is all over and we are all back to our usual busy schedules, you will be thankful to have these on hand to help you eat healthy, stay organized and save time and money.
Eat Well, Live Well, Stay Safe