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Thread: Adventures in grocery shopping

  1. #1
    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    Adventures in grocery shopping

    Today I ventured to the grocery store for the first time after 3 1/2 weeks. I went during 'senior hour' from 7am to 8am. Arriving at 6:45am I was 11th in line waiting for store opening with most people wearing masks. We were let in in groups of 4 at a time. Most customers were considerate and kept the careful physical distance except when meeting in the narrow aisles as people studied which item best suited their needs.

    I had made a list the night before so picked up an ample supply of fresh and frozen veggies which were my priority. No frozen fruit to be had! I still have some frozen from last fall plus a good supply of apples so just chose some bananas. Got milk, eggs, 3 pkgs of cheese and whole wheat couscous. My favourite toothpaste, floss, etc were on special so I stocked up when I found them plus a medium container of bleach as I am running low.

    They had a special on cutflower carnations for 94 cents (usually $7) each bunch and a lovely hydrangea for $3.94 (usually $10) so I opted for some treats for myself and bought 2 bunches and one hydrangea.

    I had to be directed to the right aisle to wait in line for a checkout but it went quickly and I was back in my car at 7:35am. Except for the fruit, I got everything I wanted and needed. I refused to pay $3.48/lb for fresh grapes which did look lovely.

    I have a large package of brown rice, lots of pasta and the coucous; a good supply of flour and yeast for making bread; 5lbs of butter, ample meats in the freezer and enough canned stuff from last fall so shouldn't need to go shopping again for another 3-4 weeks except to pick up more fresh milk.

    I saw people with toilet paper in their buggies but didn't go down the paper products aisle. Everyone seemed content and orderly. Most shelves had a good supply of product including dairy and meat in coolers but lots of the more processed items like cookies and cereals, soft drinks...

    What has been your experience?

    The regular shoppers were in a long line already waiting to go in at 8am
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

  2. #2
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    I haven't been to a regular chain supermarket in a month. I'm going fairly regularly to our small-town supermarkets. One of them is curbside only, the other does both.

    I went yesterday, wearing my napkin-mask, which was really hard to breathe through. About 1/3 are wearing masks. It's a small space, so you if you see someone in an aisle, you have to wait or maneuver around the store to get to where you want to go.

    Food has been all about compromise. Very limited meat options, although I know I can call local meat producers and have them deliver. Canned and dairy is great. Wine and beer is great. Frozen is as good as usual, which is to say, good enough for a rural area in a small store.

    But I really felt like I wanted to get in and out. Not because I was afraid of being infected--it was just this horrible vibe. Everyone is a suspect. You can only smile with your eyes. I felt disoriented and unfocused. I got out of there with only the two things DH asked for: Diet Pepsi and smokes.

    I plan to make a list and call in my orders next time. I don't think I'm going to be good at shopping in stores.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    My last trip was to the second-closest grocery near our home. Wider aisles, wider selection of what I want to buy, and I know the layout. At 10 last Friday it was about as busy as ever (that is, not very). I was more likely to encounter a staff person stocking shelves and refrigerated cases than other customers. Maybe two-thirds of the customers were wearing something over their noses and mouths.

    They had most of what I wanted. There were limits on paper products and cleaning products, mostly enforced by their shelves being empty. (Thank goodness the usual GI symptoms of influenza are not present with COVID-19.) Eggs were limited to two cartons, but they had every kind of egg and packaging they have had in the past. Frozen vegetables were surprisingly sparse. Otherwise, they had everything I wanted that they usually carry (there's stuff on my list I know I'll have to go elsewhere to buy).

    Signs by the checkstands indicated where to be during checkout. The cashier was behind a long polycarbonate partition. She had a mask, though it was completely under her chin. In, out, done. We're good for at least another couple of weeks.
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    Senior Member Teacher Terry's Avatar
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    Senior hours are busier than normal times so we don’t go then. My son and husband filled 2 carts and got everything we wanted for 4-5 weeks. The next day my son got the paper products at Walmart. I am not going to stores.

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    There's lines to get in pretty much everywhere, maybe there is some store you can go to without lines (as I saw one with a near empty parking lot - maybe it's empty of all goods as well, I kind of suspect so for something so unusual) but there are lines to get in everywhere else pretty much. The stores that have longer lines are I suspect more strictly enforcing social distancing, those with smaller more quickly moving lines are not, it's really as simple as that. Pick your poison. The stores with longer lines might also in some cases be better stocked. I can't shop odd hours, I work, sure I work from home at this point, but with pretty standard hours that I have to keep, work form home is not: do whatever you want.

    I suspect most everyone is wearing masks. It's against the law not to at this point, so probably not that many people just announcing their criminality in the grocery store at this point. There is adequate food supplies, there really are, lots of good and ample food (not just limited to cabbage and chicken wings or something and your like "ok I need to figure out how to make a recipe with cabbage and chicken wings"). Nah, more than enough yummy food to eat. But baking supplies not so much so (is everyone going to come out of this pandemic having gained 100 pounds due to all the baking they are doing or what I wonder? "well I made cookies every single day of the pandemic ... "). And some food is hit or miss for sure. TP and paper towels are hit or miss definitely. Delivery seems overwhelmed, grocery pick up all booked and not functioning, yea going to the grocery store is kind of how it is (ok for me as I'm not high risk so I kind of should go to the grocery store anyway at this point).
    If you want something to get done, ask a busy person. If you want them to have a nervous breakdown that is.

  6. #6
    Senior Member JaneV2.0's Avatar
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    At this point, I've used Amazon Fresh and Amazon Whole Foods for delivery and Safeway for grocery pickup. Amazon Fresh was the only service that was disappointing, as half the items I ordered were unavailable. Overall, I prefer Safeway. The first time I picked up, the clerk needed a signature and to see my driver's license and bent down and breathed heavily in my face, maskless. The second time, the clerk got nowhere near me, and both of us were masked. I can't imagine setting foot in a store at this point.

  7. #7
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ApatheticNoMore View Post
    lots of good and ample food (not just limited to cabbage and chicken wings or something
    I've read a couple of articles discussing the consumer/retail food market and the parallel commercial/food service market (restaurants, work cafeterias, entertainment venues, etc.). While the retail market is experiencing shortages due to demand (and, eventually, due to logistical issues tied to coronavirus illness taking employees out of the production chain), there's no good way to shut down the food service market, so there is a glut of product on that end. However, it's surprisingly difficult to just package the products differently for the retail market (pork tenderloins and toilet paper aren't being used in commercial environments but they're packaged in industrial sizes and quantities and so not very adaptable to product consumers will buy). Interesting viewpoint on how interconnected and optimized the production chains are, from farmer to our tables or to restaurant tables and take-out containers.

    A couple of articles mentioned how chicken wings are at a surplus now that people are not eating and drinking outside so much or watching March Madness or NHL playoffs and so on, and how it's easy to move chicken wings to retail packages but that the glut was driving down prices. I've been looking specifically for the deal (we like chicken wings) but I'm not seeing it. I wonder how long that will take to show up at grocery stores everywhere.
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    We finally ventured out a week ago as delivery and pickup had not worked well for us (out of stocks). Trader Joe's was pleasant and well-stocked but I can't get good fresh produce there. Sprouts was similarly uncrowded and well-stocked. I went by myself to Safeway a few days ago and it was too crowded for me. I like the directional arrows in aisles there but oddly, some people were not following them. The main gripe I hear is that store staff are not wearing masks. I hear that Costco now has mountains of toilet paper.

  9. #9
    Senior Member JaneV2.0's Avatar
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    I can't believe the commercial-grade foodstuffs couldn't be pretty easily repackaged for food banks or whatever services are replacing them.

  10. #10
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    Well the thing is there actually is an ample food supply here, the chicken wings was a bit of a joke, I'll eat them but they have no meat on them . There is just a few things that are hard hit, canned beans sometimes, lentils sometimes, baking supplies. But quite a lot of food is actually well supplied.

    pork tenderloins and toilet paper aren't being used in commercial environments but they're packaged in industrial sizes and quantities and so not very adaptable to product consumers will buy
    that's what they keep saying, but I think most people would happily buy huge rolls of TP just to have it at all. It's some kind of weird breakdown in supply chains having not much to do with consumers who mostly just want TP period at this point. Of course TP is one thing, not everyone has a huge freezer for huge amounts of meat.

    Trader Joe's was pleasant and well-stocked but I can't get good fresh produce there.
    TJs has never had particularly great produce though, it's doable I suppose and one can't always be picky in a pandemic, but nothing to write home about, maybe better here in CA though since so much produce is grown here.
    If you want something to get done, ask a busy person. If you want them to have a nervous breakdown that is.

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