Who Knew Grocery Shopping Could Be So Stressful?

Keep your distance. It’s probably not feasible to keep a six-foot radius at all times in a grocery store, but try for at least three feet, as recommended by the World Health Organization. “The majority of respiratory droplets we produce while breathing and talking fall to the ground — and onto our hands — within a few feet from us, so even a little bit of distance helps,” Dr. Winetsky said.

Limit your trips to the store. Most people don’t have the freezer space or the funds to stock up on two weeks of groceries. But try to get enough food so you don’t have to shop more than once a week. “Every trip to the grocery store is a small exposure event,” said Dr. Robert Amler, dean of New York Medical College School of Health Sciences and Practice and a former chief medical officer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “You don’t want to do it too often or spend too much time there.”

Have a flexible plan. To minimize your time in the store, have a shopping list that allows for alternatives. Don’t fret if your store has run out of chicken or salmon fillets. Just find a substitute protein — other meats, eggs, tofu, canned tuna, beans — and move on.

Shop for long-lasting foods. Frozen fruits and vegetables are great to have in a pinch, but you can also buy longer-lasting fresh produce. Root vegetables such as potatoes or carrots, as well as squash, onions, celery, apples or oranges, can last for weeks. Taste of Home has a useful guide on how long fruits and vegetables will keep. Regular yogurt, hard cheese and nondairy milk can last a while. Whole-wheat tortillas can be frozen and are a great substitute for sandwich bread, which takes up more space in the freezer.

Don’t hoard. Panic-buying has prompted some people to fight over toilet paper and pilfer from others’ shopping carts. Take what you need for the week; leave food for others. Be reassured that while there may be some empty shelves and temporary shortages of some items, food makers are confident in the supply chain and that we’ll have plenty to eat.

Really, really don’t touch your face. We know it’s hard, but if there ever was a time to not touch your face, it’s in a grocery store filled with people touching everything before you put it in your cart. Sanitize your hands while shopping and after touching high-contact areas like freezer doors. “Absolutely don’t touch your face,” said Dr. Amler. “Don’t touch your mouth, don’t touch your eyes, don’t rub your nose until you’ve been able to sanitize your hands.”


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