The first week or two after the Stay at Home Orders were put in place, going to get groceries and essential supplies was like taking a trip to the Wild West. No Rules. No Order. A lot of people scared to be near one another. Panic buying that led to bare shelves. Real Chaos.
The Good Old Days
My pantry is usually stocked pretty well. When we were initially told to Stay at Home, I had a ton of extra baking supplies on hand that were left over from the holiday season and lots of items which I had bought in bulk or stockpiled before the virus took over.
I usually buy some items in bulk when they are on sale, and I can stack other deals with that sale too. It helps me keep grocery costs down. Additionally, I use several rebate apps. If there is a sale plus a good rebate on something that I use and I can buy 5, then I buy 5.
You get the point, there is usually a plentiful supply of staples on hand at my house.
A Toilet Paper Crapshoot
Who knew that if something like this happened that toilet paper would be the thing that would become the most valued. Before this great toilet paper shortage, I always ordered my TP from Boxed. They are a Warehouse Wholesaler like Costco or Sams. I was able to get great deals buying a big bale of toilet paper, which is 6 packs of 6 double rolls. For a 2 person household, that would last forever. I had a full 6 pack plus a bale on hand when the proverbial shit hit the fan.
So at least I didn’t have to go into the Toilet Paper Tailspin.
Grocery Store Madness
My first trip to the store after lockdown stressed me out so bad because of the complete and utter chaos. After I got home it took an hour for me to get my anxiety back under control. The store was jammed full of people and the shelves were sparse. People were wild eyed, panicked and definitely not using the safety guidelines.
When I went, I planned ahead for meals thinking how far I could stretch each item and considered its shelf life. Perishables were the hardest. No sales, no coupons, no deals. I Just felt lucky to get what I needed. I spent a whopping $183 just making sure I had enough supplies for 2 full weeks. I did not want to go back!
A New Sheriff in Town
I made it 13 days without having to go again! For someone who stops in 2-3 times per week normally, this was a long stretch. By this time, grocers had put rules into place to try and control the chaos and to help keep people safe. They added Senior Shoppping hours, reduced their store hours (which helped with staffing and allowed more cleaning time) and were now limiting the number of people in the store at one time.
When I ventured out for supplies. I got there at 7:45 am for the 8 am store opening. They had lined up carts spaced about 6 feet apart. When you got there, you just got behind the first open cart to wait for your turn to go in.
Grocery Managers were now watching over the scene like Sheriffs, making sure there was order and that folks waiting stayed 6 feet apart. A guy clicked a counter as you entered the store to make sure they let only the proper number of shoppers inside.
Even though there were already a lot of people waiting that day, I got in during the first wave. This new process helped bring the prior chaos under control. The store was clean and well stocked and I was able to find most of the items on my list.
My only mistake that day was not starting at produce which is near the entrance. Instead I took my normal path to the back of the store and worked from there forward. Although I went fast, by the time I reached produce it was now crowded with people who came in after me.
Bringing It Home
I found this helpful article on how to reduce Corona virus exposure when we bring grocery items or take out food into our home.
I have adopted a variation of this process that helps me feel I have done my best to try and mitigate our risk potential.
The New Normal
I guess people are finally leveling off their grocery paranoia. The lines have gotten shorter to get in the store and the shelves are better stocked each time. I try to stretch 7-10 days between trips and go mostly for perishables.
I like to be the first wave into the nice clean store. It also helps me be successful in finding the items that I need to actually be in stock. This week I was #5 waiting to get into the store when they opened. I was pleased to find that there weren’t a lot of people waiting to get in and there was plenty of space between folks inside.
Who knows how long grocery shopping will continue in this fashion. My guess is that it will be a while. I think just like the states and our nation need to reopen things SLOWLY, we also need to be slow to move away from these temporary safety practices. I know that even after we are realeased from the Stay at Home Orders, I will continue to have my guard up, and follow safety guidelines until I feel certain that this virus has been soundly defeated.
Stay Safe, Stay at Home, Wash Your Hands, Be Patient and We will get through this together.