Going grocery shopping used to be an escape for me, a little time to myself. I could wander the aisles, looking at different options and making comparisons before choosing what I wanted most. Now, I’m doing quick commissary shopping trips, thanks to the global coronavirus pandemic.
Quick Commissary Shopping Tips for the Pandemic
Having to cut my weekly shopping time down to almost nothing means that I’ve gotten really good, really fast at getting just what I need. I’m in an out of the store lickety-split!
Use my quick commissary shopping tips for the pandemic to help make your next grocery run extra speedy!
Meal Plan Like’s It’s Your Job
Everyone is supposed to be mostly sticking close to home, only venturing out for necessary trips. To help your family stick to this rule, it’s important to buy exactly what you need in bulk.
My family has long been meal planners. It’s one of my most essential ways to survive deployments and being a family with two working parents. Meal planning is also a great cost saving strategy!
Right now, it helps me to make sure that I’m getting exactly what I need to make 1-2 weeks of meals for my family of four.
I write down exactly what we’ll have for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus snacks, for two weeks at a time. Then I cross-check ingredients between the recipe and my pantry. Whatever I don’t have, goes on the list.
Plan Around Pantry Staples & Perishable Foods
Some things just stick around longer while others need to be eaten faster. Which means that my meal plans reflect the longevity of the items I’m buying.
At the start of a two week period, I’m more likely to have things like mushrooms, berries or greens in rotation. By the end of the menu, we’re eating a lot more beans and rice.
As you’re meal planning, make sure to move through menus that feature more perishable foods to less perishable foods. It will help you to avoid a last minute dash to the store for just that one thing.
Know Your Aisles
Because he works on base, my husband has actually been the one doing a bulk of the shopping right now. And he’s learned where things are pretty quickly in just a few trips!
Prior to the pandemic, I was the designated shopper. Mostly because I like to have control over things, but also because I know where things are located. Plus, I keep a secondary running shopping list in my head of things that would be nice to have or that we’re almost out of at home.
As my husband has learned where things are located, his shopping trips are getting much faster. Knowing where things are helps him to reorganize his list so that he’s not criss-crossing the commissary multiple times.
Instead, he can start in produce and finish at the deli without going back to the baking aisle.
Our major tip is to draw a diagram of the store or even just create a list of the aisles. Put them into the correct order as much as possible and describe what you might find there. Take a picture of your diagram or put it up somewhere you can see when you make your list.
Know the Rules of Shopping
Right now, we’re facing shortages in a few areas. Toilet paper, cleaning supplies and meat are just a few of the things that we either can’t buy or are limited in buying.
For example, the commissary is limiting how much fresh meat each shopper or family can buy. Instead of eating meat every night, we’ve switched to a more plant-based diet out of necessity.
As you’re waiting to enter the store, check out any posted signs to get an update on purchase limits. Before you load items into your cart, check around you for more signs, just in case.
Buy in Bulk When Possible
We eat a lot of beans, rice and pasta. They’re shelf stable and my kids enjoy them. But I don’t want to be buying these staple foods every single week.
Instead, I’ve been watching for coupons and sales. I try to match those up with our next major shopping trip. Then I buy mass quantities of our favorite pantry items.
Buying in bulk allows us to buy certain things once a month or once every few months. Plus, it can be a money saver since larger quantities of items often have a lower per unit price. If you’re unsure, check the shelf label and look for the per unit pricing.
While bulk buying is great, it’s also important to be considerate of others. We’re all searching for a lot of the same essentials. Instead of wiping out the entire shelf of toilet paper, consider purchasing just what you need and leaving products for the next person.
Look But Don’t Touch
We’re all really conscious of germs right now. The COVID-19 virus can linger on solid surfaces for quite a while, too.
Which makes it more important than ever that we commit to purchases 100%. Before you pick up an item, consider if you really want that particular container.
Right now, it’s encouraged that we only touch products that we are ready to purchase. If you have concerns about ingredients and can’t quickly pull up the info on your phone, it might be better to walk away.
We’re sticking to items and brands we already know. For us, it means shopping time is reduced since we’re not shuffling through all the different varieties to find exactly what we want.