4 Tips to Grocery Shop Less During the Coronavirus Quarantine
One thing we can all do to slow the spread of the coronavirus during this period of quarantine is to minimize our grocery shopping trips, and we’ve got 4 tips to show you how.
I hope by now all of you are hunkered down wherever you are and staying in to help slow the spread of this awful virus. Most of us are used to grocery shopping as often as we want, but during this period of quarantining, it’s important that we all minimize our grocery shopping trips — both to help stop the spread of the coronavirus and to reduce our opportunities for exposure.
While it will require some small habit changes, the ability to be flexible and strategic will serve you well whether we’re in the middle of global pandemic or not.
1. Meal plan
With inventory uncertain, you might be avoiding meal planning right now, but it’s in times of uncertainty that we need a plan more than ever. Your plan gives you structure, and it’s so much easier to make adjustments and substitutions than to just walk into a store with no starting point. Constructing a rough blueprint of what you’ll be eating for the next 1 to 2 weeks will ensure that we come home with what we need to get us through until the next shopping trip.
If meal planning is a skill that’s just never come easily to you, that’s not a surprise — as important as it is, it’s a skill that’s never really taught. The good news is that I recently spent the last 2 months updating our Meal Planning Toolkit where I walk you through my simple rules and process for effective meal planning. It also includes 25 easy recipes to get you started plus lots of other resources to make you an expert meal planner. If you want to use this time in quarantine to pick up an incredibly useful skill, pick up the toolkit at an early bird price of $14.99 for a limited time.
2. List possible substitutes
Depending on where you live, meat can still be scarce at the store*. If you’re not good at substituting on the fly, use our Protein Substitutions Guide and list out your possible substitutes before going to the store so you don’t stress if they don’t have what you want. For more experienced cooks, you can do your editing right at the store. Vegetables are also super easy to substitute — they just might need different cooking times but swap those freely. Remember, no one is grading you for being able to follow a recipe to a tee, during a pandemic or not!
*I feel confident that ingredient inventory will return to normal soon. We were hit early with the panic in the Bay Area, but store shelves are pretty much back to normal. However, I am hoping this time of having to “make it work” will be good practice for all of us! Being flexible is such a resourceful skill to learn in cooking.
3. Include lots of shelf-stable and less perishable produce in the plan
If you’re shopping for 2 weeks worth of meals, you definitely want to include lots of legumes, grains, and less perishable produce like beets, carrots, and cabbage (more ideas for produce that lasts beyond 2 weeks in our Produce Shelf Life Guide) in your plan. So instead of your usual side salad that uses greens that might spoil more quickly, consider roasted parsnips or sauteed cabbage as a substitute.
I always buy the 10 lb bag of carrots from Costco, and it’s perfect for times like these. I can get so much out of it — soups, slaws, stir-fries, etc. — and not worry about it spoiling for a long, long time.
4. Pick up a few pantry staples each trip
Making sure your pantry essentials are well stocked is very different from panic buying or hoarding, which actually does more collective harm than personal good. There’s no need to buy out a store’s supply of canned tuna but if you don’t have enough for another meal, it might be a good idea to pick up enough for another meal’s worth, which can be 1 can or 4 cans depending on the size of your family.
There’s no need to replenish your entire pantry stock every shopping trip, especially if you’re low on space, but it’s always good to make sure your pantry contains the staples for at least 1 week’s worth of extra meals beyond your meal plan, especially during this uncertain time. If you’re not sure if your pantry has all the basic essentials, you can download our eBook here, which we’re giving away for free right now.
More ways we can help
I know not being able to just pop into the store as often as we want is a huge adjustment. It requires more planning and bigger trips, but I know you can do it. If you’re a member of our Facebook Group, we had lots of people chime in with how they’re adapting their meal planning and grocery shopping during this time of change. If you’re not a member, you can request to join as a member of our meal plan service. Sign up here and get your first month free.
If you don’t think a meal plan service is for you, we just completed a Spring Meal Plans eBook with 4 weeks of menus and grocery lists done for you. It just might be what you need to get through this strange time. We’re even offering it at an early bird price of just $11.99 for a limited time.
I hope these tips and resources provide you with a bit of extra comfort amid all of the other chaos happening. I hope it won’t be long until we have the comfort of our normal life back. Stay safe and healthy!