No one can deny that one activity that everybody used to take for granted, which has now become quite a hassle of a big production, is grocery shopping.
In a lot of places, there are strict protocols to follow for social distancing, hence the outrageously long queues in front of grocers or supermarkets. Additionally, in a lot of small grocers, some products go out of stock fast. So for a lot of shoppers, a trip to the grocer sometimes ends up as a complete waste of time.
You also cannot ignore the psychological impact of heading out to restock on supplies for the home. The threat of COVID-19 is still present, so if you’re from Dubai, it truly is a blessing that big supermarkets have made their services available online. Al Adil Supermarket, Discovery Gardens, for example, has online grocery shopping and delivery services available.
Through such a provision, you can shop in the comfort and safety of your own home, and have what you need delivered straight to your doorstep. This is the smarter and safer way to shop because it minimises the potential of exposure to the deadly coronavirus.
But, if you are looking for even safer ways to do your online grocery shopping during these concerning times, here are some tips to follow.
Typically, it’s your meal ingredients that make up most of your grocery shopping list.
To make the task of shopping so much easier, plan your meals for the week, if possible. This way, you can avoid buying things out of schedule and unnecessary purchases. You can save a significant amount of money by having a completely organised, need-based shopping list.
By planning your meals, you can take advantage of exclusive deals offered by grocers, which again, can help you stick to your budget (and diet if you are watching your weight) better.
Plus, while you’re planning, it wouldn’t hurt to incorporate something new. Go online for recipes you haven’t tried before. And, if you miss eating out, look for easy-to-follow recipes that can provide you with the treats you usually get from restaurants and other favorite dining establishments.
Stockpiling is the way to go, given the unusual circumstances the world is dealing with. Of course, you wouldn’t be able to enjoy a lot of fresh produce, but health experts say that frozen options are just as good and sometimes more nutritious.
Maintaining minimum contact with everything from outside your home is still highly advised to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Therefore, the fewer times that you have groceries delivered to your home, the lower the likelihood of transmission.
On top of that, doing your grocery shopping just once in two weeks is a fantastic way to gauge your rate of consumption.
During the lockdown, many people have learned that they can stretch their purchases for a long time and still have a few extras after two weeks of not hitting the supermarket. It also taught them to be more creative and resourceful, especially for well-loved meal recipes. So, why not do this challenge?
Even if grocers and supermarkets have disinfection procedures for the delivery of online purchases, ensure your orders are properly disinfected once they reach your home. So, assign a cleaning station near your door. Prepare a mat for laying down deliveries and disinfect or wash it after sorting through your grocery items.
Likewise, set out a basin for fresh produce (fruits and vegetables) and fill it with water and baking soda. Put all the produce in it to soak and clean. Afterwards, place them under running water before letting them dry.
As for canned or packaged items, make sure to have disinfecting wipes for them at the cleaning station, or ready some isopropyl alcohol and paper towels to wipe them clean.
Suffice it to say, you will have to devote a significant amount of time just moving your purchases from the parcel package to your pantry. However, consider this an effort that’s completely worth it. Taking extra care is better than getting sick.
Another essential advice when it comes to shopping amidst the COVID-19 health crisis is to incorporate more multipurpose items into your grocery list.
For example, it wouldn’t hurt to buy extra white vinegar during this time. Why? Not only is white vinegar an excellent condiment for a lot of dishes, but you can also use it as a disinfectant. When you’re out of commercial brand cleaners, you can use white vinegar as a replacement.
White vinegar is also useful in the garden. If you have been devoting a lot of time taking care of your outdoor space because of work at home conditions, you’ll find that vinegar makes for an effective pest and weed killer. Vinegar kills ants and other small bugs and fliers, as well as crabgrass and dandelions.
Other versatile products to stock up on are heavy cream, baking soda, lemon, and herbs.
Canned items and other long-lasting ingredients are worth stocking up on, as well.
Pasta, canned meats and fish, and boxed meals are what many call “doomsday food.” You want to have these for those “just-in-case” situations. They are not the healthiest options, but they will keep you adequately nourished should you run out of produce and other products.
You also want to have more than enough of your health supplements and medicine. Make sure you have your vitamins and probiotics (for kids and adults) to boost your immune system. Clearly, now is not the time to get sick, so make sure you take all your health boosters.
Going about a lot of responsibilities is not convenient because of certain restrictive circumstances. Still, all these tips should help you shop better while also keeping you and your family safe from many health risks.
Xavi Nunes is the Co-Founder and CMO at El Grocer, a digital platform for grocery stores and specialty and gourmet shops in the UAE. The company is reinventing the grocery shopping experience, integrating the best local stores into the mobile-first environment.