Pandemic summer shopping tip: Carry a cooler or insulated bag when you food shop

The pandemic has changed how we grocery shop, cutting down drastically on the number of trips to the store we make each week. In colder times, you could leave food from one store in your car while you ducked into another to grab a few more items, but summertime is different (as is shopping in perpetually warm climates).

Cooking Light recently had a piece on the dangers of leaving groceries in your car, you can read it by clicking here. One of the tips it suggests is something I’ve been doing for years  – bringing a large cooler filled with ice or reusable ice packs.

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed how we grocery shop.

I started that practice years back when Costco was still selling fat-free chocolate frozen yogurt in its food court and I would stock up on yogurt swirl cups every week. Costco stupidly cut chocolate frozen yogurt two years ago, something I wrote about in a rage, and now has almost no carryout items at its food courts because of Covid-19. Continue reading “Pandemic summer shopping tip: Carry a cooler or insulated bag when you food shop”

Covid-19 Pandemic changing how we food shop, and eat, new research confirms

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused major changes in the way Americans shop for their food, and in how they feel about grocery shopping, reports marketing firm Influence Central in new research it recently published.

Among the findings:

• 72% of consumers are going to the grocery store less frequently than they did before the pandemic.
• Consumers now overwhelmingly prefer shopping online with home delivery, followed by drive-by or curbside pickup, as opposed to actually going into a store to shop.
• 56% of consumers say they feel anxious about forgetting to pick up or not being able to find specific foods when shopping in-store.

My local Food 4 Less supermarket ona recent trip. I couldn’t wait to get out because of pandemic fears.

I’ll be doing several posts on this research. It quantifies and reinforces a lot of the anecdotal shopping experiences I’ve already been writing about, plus provides more details about what people are buying.

More than half of families’ eating habits have changed as they’ve been staying at home with 70% snacking and eating more frequently than they did pre-pandemic. And it’s not clear if they’re eating healthier or simply throwing down more junk food.

  • 43% eat more fruit and
  • 42% eat more vegetables,
  • 30% are eating more protein in the form of meat, poultry or fish.
  • 47% are turning to more sweets,
  • 24% have decreased their vegetable intake,
  • 21% east less fruit and 19% are eating less protein.

Continue reading “Covid-19 Pandemic changing how we food shop, and eat, new research confirms”

5 problems with online grocery shopping during your quarantine

Sheltering in place for many Americans has meant trying online grocery shopping and delivery for the first time. Food retailers are clearly overwhelmed by the demand for such services. It’s a bit ironic since they’ve been touting curbside pickup and online ordering for some time, perhaps a case for them of be careful what you wish for.

After several weeks of hit-and-miss service, I’ve put together this list for you of 5 problems you should expect when using online grocery shopping and delivery/pickup.

  1. You’ll pay a lot more. Shopping in stores means you can search out the week’s specials, discounts, etc. to cut your grocery bill. Forget that online. There are specials but by the time your order arrives they’ll likely be unavailable even if you ordered them. Which leads to problem two…
  2. You won’t receive everything you ordered. Retailers are so backed up with orders that they can’t keep items in stock apparently. A recent order I placed at Walmart.com came with half of what I ordered missing (see the photo here of my post-order screen below). That leads to the next issue…

    All these items I ordered from Walmart were unavailable by the time my order was delivered.
    All these items I ordered from Walmart were unavailable by the time my order was delivered.
  3. Delivery fees are high, especially considering you won’t get everything you ordered. Retailers generally have minimum delivery amounts you have to buy, $20 or $30. Walmart charges a $9.95 delivery fee for every order. I recently ordered about $25 of groceries but when it was delivered I received only $10 worth of food that was still available,. That means I paid double for every item when the $9.95 fee is included. I complained about this but never heard back.
  4. Beware substitutions that will drive your bill higher. I’ve used both Walmart.com and Jewel, my local mainline supermarket. But it took me two orders from each to realize I needed to click on a small button on the ordering screens not to allow substitutions for what I ordered. I didn’t see that button on my first Jewel order so instead of getting chicken breasts that were supposed to be on sale for around $3 a pound, I was sent chicken that cost $7.50 a pound because the special I ordered was out of stock. That was a significant price increase I wasn’t expecting and wouldn’t have agreed to. On my first Walmart order, I ordered diet Pepsi only to get diet Coke, again at a higher price.
  5. Speedy delivery doesn’t exist. Need some quick items for tonight’s dinner? Forget it. If you;re lucky you can book delivery a week out from the date you order. To do that, you need to be online when the food store you shop adds a new day to its delivery schedule. Some do that at midnight, others at 6 or 8 a.m., depending on how their shopping software is programmed.

All-in-all I’d say online delivery has been a painful, unsatisfying experience. So much so that my wife decided to venture out to a store today to look for all the items which aren’t available for online delivery, such as low-salt, low-fat products and lean meats and various produce which seems almost impossible to get online.

 

 

Pandemic shopping tip — frozen food cooking tips

You’re likely spend less, or no time, at supermarkets and other food stores during this pandemic. I tried shopping a few times but became too depressed by the dour atmosphere and empty shelves and so have turned to home delivery, for example. That has it’s own challenges which I’ve written about here.

However you’re getting food, you need to think and cook differently now, a nutritionist says in this interview from wpxi.com.

She recommends frozen veggies and other items, being mindful of how much you;re eating, and several recipes she likes. Just click here to see the full interview.

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Grocery delivery in a pandemic — Forget deals or disinfectants

I wrote yesterday about how difficult it’s been to get groceries delivered during the Covid-19 pandemic. Getting a time slot is next to impossible on all the major food store apps like Tagret, Walmart and major supermarket chains.

If you do finally get a time slot, it will likely be a week away from when you order. And the second thing to know is you’ll spend a lot more than you normally would. I’m usually a deal shopper — each week I’ll go to three or four stores to get the best prices on everything I need.

This was what awaited me at a recent senior shopping hour at a local supermarket — packed aisles and endless checkout lines.

That’s impossible now. Some apps do list “Deals” but you’ll find when you click on those, the items are often gone, listed as out of stock.

And forget finding any type of disinfectant for your hands or dishes. Those are universally sold out. Search for disinfectant wipes or anti-bacterial soap and the only things that pop up are toilet bowl cleaners.

Apparently Americans are hording toilet paper but not cleaning their toilets, which is a scary picture.

All the food apps also have minimum spend amounts for delivery, or some for free delivery (some charge even when you get the minimum dollar amount of products). That means you can’t use online shopping to grab one or two things you may have run out of or have a taste for.

So approach online shopping like you would shopping during time of war — expect scarcity, expect to spend up to twice what you normally would, take what you can get to prepare decent meals, and be prepared to wait days or weeks to get your groceries.

Grocery Delivery in a pandemic — for me, it’s close to impossible

I was someone who loved grocery shopping.

Indeed, for part of my career I wrote about the food retailing business and would regularly visit supermarkets to see what they had to offer, how they displayed new items, what their fresh food sections were like and how many prepared items they were offering.

But all my joy of grocery shopping is gone now, crushed by current shopping conditions brought on by this pandemic sweeping the globe.

This was what awaited me at a recent senior shopping hour at a local supermarket — packed aisles and endless checkout lines.

I’ve tried shopping during so-called “senior” hours that food stores have instituted for people like me who are over 65. But I found those horrible beyond description — aisles packed with masked, frightened people walking slowly and unsure of what to do next as they confronted one empty shelf after another.

So now I’m trying to have groceries delivered and I’m finding stores are totally overwhelmed for such orders.

The major chain in the Chicago area, Jewel, routinely has no delivery slots available for the next week — the length of time you;re allowed to book on its shopping app.

I was finally able to get a slot for this coming Saturday by going on line at midnight last Friday when a new day was added and quickly booking a time window.

To do that, I had to have my cart of items ready to checkout.

Walmart, which was promoting its pickup service during this year’s Super Bowl, has a grocery app that only allows you to book pickup times for the current and next day — and all slots for those are always full. I have yet to find the magic time of day when I can schedule a pickup of food at any of their local stores near me.

The Target app for food was no better. Amazon Fresh seems no better.

If you do somehow secure a time slot, your troubles aren’t over. More on that in my next post.

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