The Dos and Dont’s of Grocery Shopping

IDEAL: Order groceries to be delivered or for you to pick up, if possible. Expect delays. (You must plan ahead.)

If you must go to the grocery store—


Before you go:

  • Plan to go during non-peak hours.
  • Write your list on paper.
  • Many stores have hours for seniors only (usually early in the morning).
  • If it’s crowded when you arrive, leave and come back at another time. It’s worth it!
  • Take your own wipes, if possible. Stores run out of the ones near the carts very quickly.
  • Leave hand sanitizer in the car.

While you are there:

  • Get in and out ASAP.
  • Have a plan so that you do not need to go through every aisle looking for items.
  • Wear some sort of facial covering that covers your nose and mouth.
  • *Wear gloves.
  • Use gloves or wipes to open refrigerator/freezer doors.
  • Touch only what you intend to buy.
  • Wipe down the entire top part of your grocery cart. Sometimes we pull the cart from the front instead of pushing from the back.
  • Stay 6 feet away from other shoppers. This is equivalent to the length of about two grocery carts.
  • Some stores have areas marked for how far back you need to stand while waiting for the cashier.
  • Use the self-checkout, if at all possible.
    • This reduces exposure for you and the cashier.
    • The self-checkout kiosk (and the area around it) is likely very dirty. Be aware.
  • Pay with a credit card.
    • Ideal: Pay by tapping your credit card or use a phone app.
    • Insert credit card chip or swipe your card.

After you leave the store:

  • Remove your gloves prior to getting in the car.
  • Sanitize your hands once you are back in the car.
  • Non-food and non-medication items may be safely stored in the garage for a few days (depending on the labeling on the item as well as the temperature in your garage)

When you get home:

  • **Disinfect items before bring them into the house.
  • Rinse produce with cold running water (no soap, bleach, sanitizing)
  • Wash reusable bags


Before you go:

  • Avoid putting your list on your phone, so you don’t have to keep touching it.

While you are there:

  • Avoid taking your phone out in the store—unless/until you’re going to use your phone to pay. If you bring it in, keep it in your pocket/purse.
  • Do not touch any part of your face.
  • Do not overstock. Get enough for 2 weeks. Everyone needs items. Sharing is caring.
  • Do NOT go into the store when you have symptoms of ANY infectious disease.
  • Do not bring multiple people to the store. One designated shopper is the best option, if possible.
  • Avoid checks or cash, if possible.

* Gloves: This one is controversial. It is true that if you touch a contaminated surface with gloves, the next surface you touch will be contaminated by your gloves. This would be true of your hands as well. The key is that wearing gloves may deter you from touching your face with your hands since you’ll physically feel the gloves on your hands. Note that wipes can be intermittently used to wipe down most types of gloves while you are wearing them.

**The latest evidence (as of this post) suggests that COVID-19 may stay on certain surfaces for 3 days or longer. There is also conflicting data on whether or not this virus can stay in the air for 2-3 hours (most likely when a person with COVID-19 sneezes, coughs or does a breathing treatment via a nebulizer). None of this comes with a fool-proof formula, so let’s be careful. Appropriately wipe down items prior to bringing them inside your home. Do not soap or sanitize fresh foods that are purchased without a completely sealed container. Instead, wash them with cool running water as above. (Blueberries, for example, usually come in a plastic container with holes in the container. Remove the blueberries and wash them under cold water. If you want to keep the container, wash the container with soap and warm water and then put the blueberries back in when the container is dry.)

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