How My Grocery Shopping Has Changed In Light Of Covid
posted on August 7, 2020 | by Michele Lando
A lot has changed since we first went on lockdown at the beginning of March, but perhaps one of the most noticeable changes has been how I grocery shop. I have worked from home since 2016, so there wasn’t much that changed about my WFH setup, however, since I started working from home years ago, I always looked forward to little outings throughout the day/week. Whether it was walking my dog, running a quick errand, or running to the store to pick up an ingredient for dinner. Cooking has always been a stress release and a source of comfort for me, so it’s no surprise that when the pandemic first hit, I turned to cooking to keep myself sane.
The difference, however, was that I wasn’t able to go to the store to pick up an ingredient readily, and I had to completely change the way I shop. I’ve always used a grocery list, however, I used to grocery shop about once a week, with the occasional quick trip to pick up a specific ingredient here and there. Given that every trip to the grocery store is a risk of exposure, I have hugely cut down on my grocery trips and have switched from making periodic trips to the store to making large grocery hauls with my fiancé. This has been a big change for us since I did the majority of the grocery shopping and he would pick up additional ingredients on the way home at the end of the day, but it’s also been a great activity for us to do together. It’s a whole ordeal, but it has become part of our routine every 2-3 weeks. To put things in perspective, I am on medication that compromises my immune system, so I take COVID exposure very seriously, and try to minimize grocery trips as much as possible. Here are a few things to keep in mind that I have found very useful when doing a big grocery haul:
Keep a running list of what you need.
If there is one thing I cannot stress enough, it is that when you are doing a big grocery haul, having a list is essential so you get what you need and don’t end up with a bunch of random ingredients. I find that the best way to keep track of what you need is to keep a running list on your phone and add items to the list as you run out of them. I often just keep a list on the notes section of my phone in checkbox format so I can check them off the list while at the store, but places like Whole Foods offer a shopping list in their app that automatically organizes the list into categories so it makes it easier to shop at the store.
Take inventory before you go to the store.
You may not be completely out of something, but when you’re trying to minimize grocery trips and do one big haul, it’s important to take inventory of what you have before going to the store. If you have some maple syrup left but you’ll likely run out in a week, that needs to go on the list. Don’t forget about things like vitamins and laundry detergent when taking inventory. You’d be surprised at how many different things you can get at one store. I’ve ended up buying some produce at Target and laundry detergent from Whole Foods in order to minimize the need to go to multiple stores. Oh, the things you discover in times of uncertainty!
Consider what you want to make ahead of time.
I always get a few versatile ingredients such as boneless skinless chicken breasts, ground turkey, ground beef, pork tenderloin, and frozen salmon filets, but consider what kind of recipes you want to try and make so you can shop accordingly.
Things like pork tenderloin are great because of their versatility. You can pound it out to make breaded cutlets, roast it in the oven, or my favorite way to do it, put it in the instant pot for 15 minutes to make shredded pork tacos! (This is one of my favorite no-fail and super quick recipes for tomatillo pulled pork!) I use this pork on tacos, in burritos, served over rice, as a topping for nachos!
Stock up on pantry ingredients that won’t spoil.
When it comes to pantry staples, I always keep ingredients like onions, garlic, and potatoes on hand because they can sit on the counter or in the pantry for a long time before they go bad, but canned goods such as canned tomatoes, beans, and coconut milk are items I keep in my pantry at all times. Note that when purchasing canned goods, I try to always purchase the items with BPA free lining. When you’re trying to minimize grocery trips, canned goods can help you make a meal out of next to nothing, and can help expand upon and get the most out of whatever fresh produce you have.
Wash and prep your produce to make it last longer.
Part of the reason why grocery shopping has become such an ordeal is because we buy so much at once, but once we get everything home, we have a way of “processing” it to keep everything clean and prolong freshness.
Typically, I wash all produce, then lay a bunch of towels on the counter and let everything dry completely. Letting everything dry is key because excess water will make the produce go bad faster. Once everything is dry, I like to prep everything and store it in silicone zip top bags. I have been shocked at how long produce lasts when processed like this, as I’ve gone three weeks between grocery trips and still had produce to cook with right before shopping. Admittedly, at three weeks, the produce is sometimes a bit past its peak, but nothing more than a little wilting.
For vegetables like broccoli, I’ll cut the stems off (use those in roasted broccoli soup! Clearly I like soup, but if you don’t, there are still a lot of other uses for those stems. Don’t toss them!) and will cut the florets into smaller pieces, then store everything in the fridge in one of my silicone bags.
For produce like bananas and apples, once those are thoroughly dry, I leave those in our fruit bowl. I have also taken to buying super green and under-ripe avocados, then the second they start to feel almost ready to eat, I throw them in the fridge to slow the ripening process. This helps keep avocados around for longer, because I love a good avocado toast!
Acknowledge the times.
My fiancé and I rarely went grocery shopping together before, just because I would often go mid-day to avoid crowds and get out of the house while working from home. He will argue that the way I grocery shop drives him crazy, but it has been nice to be able to take on this task together during these insane times that we’re in the midst of. No, this is not ideal, and yes, I miss being able to run to the store for one ingredient here and there instead of waiting until I need a whole bunch of stuff, but safety is important, and there are some really great habits I’ve picked up while staying at home.
While this is a scary and challenging time for everyone, I do hope that there are some silver linings that can come out of this. I’ve always cooked the majority of our meals, but it’s really fun to see other people doing the same and exploring the joys of cooking at home. It’s also amazing to see how people change their eating and health habits when cooking at home, and I hope that more people learn the benefit of cooking for yourself so you can control the ingredients you use.
For some other easy recipes, check out some of the ones on regular rotation in my household below: