Shopping Smart and Cleaning What You Bought
Due to recent concerns surrounding COVID-19, it can be tricky to go grocery shopping for your essentials. One alternative to physically going to the grocery store is relying on delivery services such as Instacart. But if that’s not an option, it helps to have information about how to keep yourself safe when visiting public places.
When shopping you should:
- Keep surfaces clean. Touch just the items you intend to buy, wipe down the cart or basket handles with disinfectant wipes and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer when you’re done. This ensures you are the cleanest you can possibly be before, during and after shopping. Ladies, don’t forget to wipe down your purse if you stick it in your cart while shopping.
- Have a shopping list ready to go. Having a list to follow allows you to run in and out of your grocery store and reduce your contact with other people. It also limits the number of items you’ll come into contact with. If it’s realistic for you, buy two weeks’ worth of groceries at a time. This will ensure you have enough essentials to last and will allow you to remain inside and unexposed.
- Be thoughtful and don’t stockpile supplies. Getting the essentials for your family ensures you aren’t prolonging your time spent in the grocery store and it allows others in need to get the necessary supplies for their families as well. Focus on two weeks’ supply, and limit it to that so others can get what they need, too.
- Stay at least six feet away from others, if possible. Keeping your distance in a confined public space might be difficult. You can also limit your exposure by wearing disposable gloves and a homemade face mask. Since supplies are limited for medical professionals, you can search online how to make a face mask with items you already have around your house. When you return to your car, always be sure to dispose of gloves properly in a trash can.
It’s important to note that if you have an illness, are over the age of 60 or have a pre-existing condition that increases your risk, you may wish to limit your potential exposure by avoiding the supermarket.
Clean products you purchase
Research shows the virus can be picked up by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Some surfaces pose a bigger risk than others, but it’s impossible to know who has touched what surface. The best course of action is to clean what you purchase.
Once you leave the grocery store, you should have a plan for disinfecting the items you bought. There’s several ways to do this, so just do what works best for you. Some ways to clean and disinfect your groceries include:
- Wiping down cans.
- Throwing away disposable packaging.
- Leaving items that do not require refrigeration in your car or garage, or on your porch for at least 72 hours to allow the virus to become inactive.
- Setting up a cleaning station to avoid contaminating other areas of your home. This may include the trunk of your car, your garage or a kitchen island.
- Transferring all food items to clean containers and bags you already have in your home. This could include discarding boxes, plastic and bags to limit what outside items you are bringing into your home.
- Scrubbing fruits and vegetables in hot water for at least 20 seconds. Fresh produce is porous, meaning it needs to be treated like your skin.
- Sanitizing hard plastics and containers such as chicken stock or soda bottles by spraying disinfectant on the package directly.
Once you disinfect your groceries, it’s important you wash any tables, countertops, or other surfaces that were touched by your groceries or grocery bags. Throughout this whole process, it is recommended you continue to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, scrubbing them with soapy hot water.
Extending the life of your food
Since you may be shopping less frequently, it’s important to try and preserve your food. It’s easy to stock up on pantry items such as rice, soup, and other canned fruits and vegetables. Though it’s harder to keep fresh produce at its peak ripeness, you can follow these tips:
1. Extend the life of your leafy greens—along with parsley, cilantro, green onions, and celery—by trimming just a tiny bit off their stems every few days, soaking them in warm water for about 10 minutes, and soaking again in cold tap water for five minutes.
2. Blanch your other vegetables by dropping them in boiling water for a short amount of time, shocking them in cold water and freezing afterwards.
3. Consider making meals ahead of time that can be frozen and reheated. This includes meals made in a crockpot or instant pot or that can be popped right into the microwave or oven. This works well with large batches of recipes as well so you can have multiple servings for multiple occasions.
4. Freeze your food. Many people know that products such as meat, fruit, bread and veggies can be frozen, but did you know you can freeze your dairy products as well? Milk, cream, yogurt and eggs can all be frozen and have a shelf life of about three months if you freeze them before they expire.
Stay healthy and stay safe!
Try one or all of the above tips to shop smart, clean your food and stay safe! Remember these tips should be followed if it is absolutely necessary for you to leave your house at this time. Practice social distancing and try using a grocery delivery service first, before putting yourself and others at risk.
Want more health information? Visit www.meritain.com.
This article is for informational purposes only, and is not meant as medical advice.