Pandmic Shopping at Food4Less: hit and miss but hand sanitizer was available

Finding groceries during the Coronavirus pandemic has been a hit and miss affair, much like shopping during any natural disaster can be. I’ve written about my experiences with home delivery, and have been reviewing stores I venture out for. Food4Less is a Kroger-owned chain that operates in the Chicago area.

My local Food 4 Less was quiet Sunday morning.

In normal times, I find produce deals there as well as some low-salt and no-salt items not available elsewhere.

I journeyed there the past weekend specifically to find Mrs. Dash salt-free teriyaki marinade but was sadly disappointed. It was out-of-stock and I didn’t even see an empty space on a shelf with its tag, so I’m concerned the chain may not be carrying it any longer.

That would force me to buy it online, which would effectively double the cost to more than $7 a bottle because of shipping costs. Amazon does have it for Prime members without shipping charges, but the cost is close to $6 a bottle, about 50% more than in stores.

Another item I looked for, low-salt soft taco shells from a local Chicago company,. also was out-of-stock but that;s likely because that company had to shut down when employees there tested positive for Covid-19. I think the plant is running again, but it must be having difficulty meeting demand.

I stocked up on hand sanitizer and some disinfectant.

One pleasant surprise at Food4Less was that it had hand sanitizer in stock, two different brands in fact. I bought two bottles of each (the per-shopper limit), just in case I’ll need it this fall should I be able to reopen my theater (a possibility that’s seeming less and less likely).

The store itself was relatively empty on a Sunday morning and everyone I saw was masked, which was reassuring. The quiet and the lack of person-to-person interaction was very sad, however, another impact of this pandemic.

Imperfect Foods: an imperfect answer to Covid-19 grocery delivery

Two months after we began staying home, you would think home grocery delivery options would have improved. They had major problems when I first wrote about home delivery. But I just tried Imperfect Foods hoping it would be more reliable. Sadly, it was not and I ended my subscription after only one delivery.

The concept behind Imperfect is a worthy one — to use produce that might not look the best but is perfectly edible, preventing it from going to waste. Demand for it was so high in April, when my daughter told me she uses it, that I could not open an account until May. When I did, though, I found it’s having the same problems larger food retailers are.

My Imperfect Foods box really was imperfect — arriving a day late

It also had a problem I hadn’t encountered before — it simply couldn’t deliver anywhere near when it promised. It originally gave me an eight-hour delivery window — from noon to 8 p.m. In normal times, that would have been unacceptably long to me, but these days I have nowhere to go so I accepted it.

But when 8 p.m. and then 9 p.m. came and went on delivery day without any food, I emailed to find out how late I would need to stay up for my delivery. The answer — it wasn’t coming until the next day, with another eight-hour delivery window. Lucky I wasn’t counting on that delivery to make my dinner the night it didn’t come.

The next day, as time passed I wondered what was happening — until I received an email saying it would be yet another day before my delivery arrived. A delivery two days late is unacceptable to me, especially because I had ordered a meat and seafood add-on to my veggies and wondered where those all were sitting for two days. Continue reading “Imperfect Foods: an imperfect answer to Covid-19 grocery delivery”

Trader Joe’s shopping in the pandemic. Hurry up and wait

I took my first trip to a Trader Joe’s in more than two months this week, which also means it’s my first trip there since the Coronavirus pandemic swept the globe. I had to wait on line to get in when the store opened for senior shopping at 8 a.m. But once inside, I found the items I wanted and even a few I don’t normally buy there.

I went to a checkout lane with no one waiting in front of me, but the checkout was a sad moment for me, so much different from the pre-pandemic Trader Joe’s.

Shopping at Trader Joe's
The line I encountered waiting to get into a Chicago-area Trader Joe’s. These were all seniors waiting for the 8 a.m. opening of the store for senior shopping.

Checkout clerks now are surrounded by plastic shields. I was asked to push my cart to the clerk but to remain at the six-foot away line on the floor while she checked out my items.

Once she was done, she asked me to walk past her and her sheild to the card processing terminal to pay and leave.

The usual friendly banter with the clerk was gone. I am someone who looked forward to talking to those clerks when I shopped there. Chalk it up to me being an old man with few, if any friends nearby anymore.

Those days of chatting at the checkout are gone. Continue reading “Trader Joe’s shopping in the pandemic. Hurry up and wait”

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