The COVID-19 pandemic has upended everyday life. As people follow shelter-in-place orders and stay inside their apartments, once-thriving cultural institutions such as bars, restaurants, venues, and other entertainment spots have shuttered their doors (and some of these spaces may never reopen). Essential businesses, on the other hand, have remained open, but their inner workings and rules now differ, perhaps most noticeably in grocery stores. There, long lines, depleted shelves, and new rules intended to maintain social distancing and protect both customers and workers have caused some people to consider other easy, safe ways to get groceries during COVID-19. Here are some of those options.
1. Online grocery delivery services
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, online grocery delivery services have seen such sharp rises in usage that providers have struggled to keep up. The dramatic uptick in online grocery delivery service usage may stem from how easy getting groceries is through these platforms: After using a website or app to stock a virtual cart with your groceries, someone who works for the app does your grocery shopping for you and delivers your groceries to your doorstep.
Not only does easy online grocery shopping save you a trip to the supermarket and thereby lessen your potential for COVID-19 exposure, but it also ensures social distancing. During the pandemic, grocery shoppers are dropping off bags of groceries at customers’ doorsteps, then leaving while alerting customers of their deliveries. This method eliminates face-to-face interaction and thereby drastically minimizes the chance of COVID-19 transmission.
That said, online grocery delivery might not be right for you, and at times, it actually might not be easy. Since online grocery delivery is in such high demand, you may need to wait several days for delivery, and you might face challenges in even finding an open delivery window. Additionally, delivery fees tend to be high, and if you’re ordering produce, you might be frustrated that you can’t personally pick and choose fruits and vegetables of the exact quality or ripeness you want. Other options may suit you better.
2. Curbside pickup
Curbside pickup has emerged as a viable midpoint between traditional grocery shopping and online grocery delivery. With curbside pickup, you’ll still travel to the grocery store, and as with online delivery, you’ll pre-order your entire cart. However, with curbside pickup, you’ll neither enter the grocery store nor wait for delivery at home. Instead, when you arrive at your grocery store, someone will bring your groceries to the curbside, and after they depart, you’ll have enough social distance to retrieve your groceries with minimal potential for COVID-19 exposure.
Restaurants unable to host patrons for traditional dining have gotten creative during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to offering standard takeout options (though with strict social distancing measures), some restaurants have added grocery services. Restaurants unable to use all their bulk ingredients given the decline in patrons have repurposed them as traditional groceries and sold them to local residents.
Some restaurants have gone a step farther and fashioned the ingredients for some of their most popular menu items into meal kits you can buy to make these staples yourself at home. You might not be able to visit your favorite restaurants right now, but making their food at home might be the next best thing – and it certainly keeps you out of the supermarket.
How have you been getting your groceries during COVID-19? Share your methods in the comments – other readers might find your ideas useful!