At this point, I have to assume that you have heard about the global pandemic going on.
Whether you would like to call it the coronavirus or COVID-19, we are all worried and want to do our part in "flattening the curve" to keep our medical systems from being overwhelmed.
Having been through the struggles and health issues that I have been through (you can read all about my journey of healing Lyme disease naturally), I am on high alert with the pandemic going on.
We all know about social distancing and being sure to limit our exposure to people who are sick, but what else can we do to protect ourselves?
Is it safe to go grocery shopping?
I am sure that all of us have ventured out to go grocery shopping recently. I know I have and I was scared to touch ANYTHING!
That's when I decided to do a little more research and learn how to protect myself and my loved ones!
After doing a lot, and I mean a lot, of research, I finally found a way to make myself, and hopefully you, more comfortable when you go out to pick up your groceries or food.
I based my plan on this video by Dr. Jeffrey VanWingen MD and his life-saving tips.
Anybody that is grocery shopping during the COVID19 pandemic should watch this video 👇🏼 (it could save your life...literally)
How long does the coronavirus (COVID19) survive on surfaces?
The first thing to think about is the lifespan of the virus.
However, I keep finding conflicting information on how long the coronavirus lives on different surfaces.
For this purpose, I am going to go with the information that the National Institute of Health published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The NIH states that the coronavirus can live outside of the human body, in the air, for up to three hours. It can also live on cardboard for one day and on plastic and metal for three days.
(Watch this Mythbusters video 📺 that shows how far nasal secretions from somebody with an illness can travel and how much gets on people at a dinner party. You will be shocked!)
Once I found that out, I realized how important it was to take care of my groceries so that I don't have to worry when I am at home.
Before you go to the market
The first thing to do is make a plan!
If you’re like me, then you already have a list to take with you, but let’s expand that a little bit.
If possible, let’s try and make a list to get us through two weeks of groceries so we don’t have to go out as much.
During the coronavirus pandemic, I made my husband go to home depot and buy a stand-up freezer so we could store more food.
I also try and have a plan of action in my head once I get to the store so I can minimize the amount of time that I stay in the store once I get there!
I usually love to take my organic cotton reusable bags with me, but I am making an exception during this time and using the bags provided at the store. (I do my part to reduce the amount of plastic the world consumes 😊)
I don’t want to bring any contaminants into the store or out of the store, and this makes for easier clean up later.
If you have to take reusable bags with you, make sure to clean them thoroughly as soon as possible!
Think of others
Make sure that you think about people outside of your household too!
You might want to help out your parents or an elderly neighbor by picking up their groceries for them.
Of course, if you are experiencing any symptoms or just don’t feel well, be sure that you stay home so that you don’t spread anything to others in the store!
Best time to go grocery shopping
The best thing to do is call the store before you go and ask what day and time is their least busy day.
If you cannot get a hold of the store or don't have time I recommend aiming for late at night before right before closing.
Stores might have specific hours set aside for vulnerable people such as the elderly 65+.
Now let’s talk about the things that you can do to protect yourself while you are there.
First, I am sure that you used a wipe to sanitize the handle on your cart or basket, but what about the inside of the cart where you will be placing all of your groceries?
I like to make sure that I wipe that down too!
I also make sure that I always take my all-natural hand sanitizer (click here for an easy essential oils and alcohol DIY recipe) with me, so that I can always have something on hand (no pun intended😉) to sanitize my hands after I am done picking everything up.
While I am shopping, I like to make sure that I look at everything and fully commit to buying something before I pick it up.
This is incredibly important. We are all guilty of seeing something that looks amazing, and then as soon as we pick it up, we realize that it is unnecessary and put it back on the shelf.
When you do this, you are not only exposing yourself to something that countless other people have touched, but you’re also adding onto that number for the next person to pick it up!
I also wear gloves while I am in the grocery store for extra protection, and I change them out when I get to my car.
How to clean the groceries you bring home
Once you have gotten home, it’s important to remember that the virus can live on different materials for up to three days!
For anything that is shelf-stable, I like to leave it in my garage for those three days to make sure that I have the best chance possible of being safe!
Unfortunately, there are some things that you just can’t leave outside for three days without them going bad!
Luckily, I have found what I think is the best method to make sure that you keep everything clean and sanitary!
1. Prepare your workspace
The first thing is to make sure that you have a clear working space to sanitize items.
Make sure that you disinfect it before placing anything on it.
The CDC, not my favorite agency but I think they got this one right, says that any standard disinfectant will work to kill the coronavirus and other viruses.
I personally like to use rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. I spray a paper towel and wipe down the area. I throw away the dirty towel(s) immediately.
Make sure to keep your workspace separated.
You want to have a “clean” side and a “dirty” side.
I also keep a hand towel that is completely saturated with disinfectant on my workspace to ensure that I have something to wipe items down with.
2. Unpack and clean
This is the most critical part!
Once you place all of your groceries on the “dirty” side of your workspace, you have to start deciding how you’re going to clean different items.
I will tell you how I clean all of mine.
- Bread - Remove it from the packaging without making any contact with the food itself. I store my bread in a reusable airtight container that I know that I have cleaned thoroughly!
- Bagged vegetables - I personally like to open my fridge and tip the vegetables out of the bag straight into the crisping drawer to make sure that they are not contaminated. You can also use your hand towel soaked with disinfectant to wipe down the outside of the bag before placing it into the fridge.
- Packaged items - If your groceries have a sturdier packaging, you can always spray them directly with disinfectant or wipe them down with your hand towel to make sure that they are sanitary.
- Fruit - Things like apples and oranges are very similar to your hands! The best thing that I have found is to wash them thoroughly with soapy water for at least 20 seconds and then rinsing them well.
Take-out food to reduce going to the market
A ton of food delivery apps have started offering free delivery and no contact delivery options to help support local restaurants during this pandemic.
When I first found out about this, I was excited but quickly began to think of all the different people that would be touching my food before it got to me.
If you chose to continue to order take-out, how can you stay safe and still support your favorite local restaurants?
The most important thing is to remove anything packaged up and place it onto a clean plate without letting it make contact with the outside of the wrapper.
Whenever possible, heat your food! Luckily, coronavirus cannot handle heat very well.
This means that a gentle reheating of your food will normally help with any possible contamination that there could have been!
Snack with confidence
Now you can relax knowing that all of your groceries are clean and sanitary!
Make sure that you share this information with your loved ones so that they can be sure to sanitize their groceries and stay safe and healthy too!