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Blog & Recipes

How to Grocery Shop During a Pandemic

Although toilet paper appears to be at the forefront of many people's minds, we are here to help you shop for groceries during a pandemic!

First of all, it is normal for your lifestyle to be different during this uncertain time. Be gentle with yourself if you have less energy, more anxiety, are exercising less, and/or are turning to food for comfort!

The BC CDC recommends physical distancing, frequent hand washing, and avoiding touching your face as the top ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However eating healthy, being physically active, getting adequate rest, and managing your stress are all important to maintaining a healthy immune system!

Grocery shopping currently presents additional challenges - stores are out of stock of many items and you want to limit trips to the store to #StopTheSpread. Here are some strategies to help you grocery shop during these uncertain times!

1. Plan Ahead: Figure out what meals and snacks you’ll have during the week to ensure you get everything that you need, so you don't have to return frequently. This is also your chance to learn some new skills or recipes. Try downloading an app, watching some cooking videos, or dusting off that old cookbook your mom got you for inspiration and recipes!

  • Be flexible! Supermarkets are doing their best to keep shelves restocked, but you may have to be ready to make alternative choices. Try to come up with 2-3 extra meal or snack ideas in case you need to make substitutions at the store.

  • Try to plan for easy, satisfying meals that use basic ingredients. For example, pasta with lentils, tomato sauce, and loaded with extra vegetables (try frozen peas/carrots, bell peppers, mushrooms, onions!).

  • Make use of your freezer - batch cook soups, stews, curries, sauces, etc. and store in your freezer for up to 3-4 months!

Check out all of the delicious recipes on our website, by clicking here!

2. Make a list: This can help you make sure you get everything you need for your meal plan, help with budgeting, and make your time in the grocery store more efficient. Arrange your list by grouping foods/items together by where they are in the store (e.g. list all fruits/vegetables together, do the same with bread, dairy products, etc.)

  • The app and website epicurious is very helpful for tip 1 and 2. You can download it on your phone and check out some recipes for whatever you need and create a shopping list that you can check off - everything you need in one place! Making it easy.

  • If you’re running low on food, can help you build a meal! Just input what you have hanging around and see what pops up!

3. Think long term: While there is no food shortage and we can trust our supply chain to replenish supermarkets, consider buying foods that will keep for a longer time to minimize trips to the grocery store to once a week or less.

  • Frozen and canned vegetables and fruit are just as healthy and nutritious as fresh, plus they will keep for longer. Frozen fruits and vegetables work well for smoothies and soups!

  • Choose produce with a long shelf life - for example: kale, onions, potatoes, squash, apples, beets, cabbage, carrots, celeriac, garlic, radishes, and rutabaga.

  • Make use of your freezer to keep items for longer, such as bread.

  • Dry foods such as nuts/seeds, grains (e.g. oats, quinoa, rice, barley), legumes (beans, peas, lentils), dried pasta, and flour can be stored for months in airtight containers in your pantry.

4. Protect yourself and others: Try to wash your hands with soap and water (or alcohol-based hand rub) before and after visiting the grocery store. As much as possible, try to keep 2 metres away from other people both inside and outside the grocery store. You may also want to ensure you are laundering your reusable grocery bags, wiping down counter tops with soap and water, washing/drying produce, and hand washing before/after touching food and packaging at home.

Click here to read the BC CDC's tips for food safety for COVID-19.

If you are in a vulnerable, high risk group and need help getting groceries - try these options:

  • Make use of stores 'specialty hours' (some stores are opening earlier for seniors or staying open later for healthcare staff)

  • Ask a family member, friend, or neighbour for help - we are all in this together!

  • Try ordering your groceries online to have them delivered (Narcity has compiled a list of Vancouver-based grocery stores that offer delivery)

  • Make use of the volunteer-run Shop By Phone Grocery Program, click here for contact information for your area

  • Use meal delivery services, such as Meals on Wheels or Better Meals (although there are many more services available in Vancouver!)

Post contributed to by Tamara Smallwood.

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