Should I disinfect my groceries? Safe grocery shopping Tips During COVID-19

My husband and I braved the outside world yesterday, to tackle our once a week grocery shop. We have a pretty good method now, and I was proud of us for getting the shopping done quickly and safely. We had separate grocery lists, and basically split the store up between us. We moved quickly, managed to always keep a minimum of 6 feet between ourselves and other shoppers, and didn’t touch any surface unnecessarily. Whew! (And yes, we wore gloves, but no masks. We don’t have any masks to wear!)

But, once you’re home from grocery shopping – then what!? How can you make sure that the groceries you just purchased are clean, and safe? Is there any way to guarantee that your food isn’t infected with the coronavirus? Yes, there are a few extra steps you can take to unload those groceries and prevent contamination. Here’s what we do:

5 Tips for Safer Grocery Shopping – Unpacking groceries at home

  1. Have a safe unloading zone at home. If you have an attached garage, your safe grocery unloading zone may be in your garage. If, like us, you live in a condo or apartment – then we use a storage room and the front entrance of our apartment as our unloading zone. We use this space for this purpose whether we are unloading groceries OR a package we ordered on Amazon or another online merchant. This keeps the items you’ve brought from outside in one limited area of your home – not spreading possible contaminants throughout your home.
  2. Wipe down groceries and other items with Lysol wipes. I know, easier said than done if you haven’t been able to get your hands on some disinfecting wipes! I had purchased some of these before they became such a hot commodity, so we still have some to use. If not, using a good disinfecting spray (such as Lysol or Clorox – the cleaner should say that it kills viruses) and paper towels. I’d prefer using a disposable cloth for this purpose, instead of a cloth that would then need to be washed. (Again – if finding paper towels right now is tricky, then stock up on some paper dinner napkins. I found a large pack of these for about $2 at our local grocery store and they work just as well as paper towels. And once done, you can throw them away!) Wipe the packaged products down thoroughly with the Lysol cloth or spray and paper towel. (With fresh produce I don’t use disinfectant wipes – I’m afraid the chemicals will penetrate into the fruit or vegetables. Instead, I try to buy only bagged fruit, and for things like bananas – I give them a good wash with plain old soap and water.)
  3. Allow the disinfectant time to work – On our tub of Lysol wipes, they recommend letting the disinfectant sit on the items for 4-5 minutes to allow time for the disinfectant to work. Don’t rush this step, as this is when the disinfectant is actually killing the potential virus on the items.
  4. Put the groceries away – Carefully put away your groceries – into the fridge, cupboard, pantry or wherever you are storing your supplies right now.
  5. Wash your hands – We are told this every day, about a hundred times a day! But, it’s because many of us have bad habits and still don’t wash our hands as thoroughly as we should. Especially after you’ve been out shopping – those hands need a really good wash! If in doubt, wash them again! I find that a foaming hand soap really allows me to give my hands a good scrub. But, use whatever soap you have on hand. Lather up those hands, and sing your favourite song for at least 20 seconds as you give those hands of yours a good scrub. Then rinse thoroughly. Dry your hands on a clean hand towel or a paper towel. (Again, it’s nice to be able to toss the paper towel away.) If using hand towels, be sure to launder those towels regularly – and in the hottest water the fabric will allow.

Best Tips for Safely Unloading Groceries #StaySafe

These are the tips we have found most helpful for safely unloading our groceries or parcels during the times of coronavirus. Some people simplify the entire process by just having a ‘safe zone’ and leaving the supplies there for a few days before they even unload them into their home at all. We simply don’t have the space to do that, so this is the method that is working for us, living in an apartment. It’s helping us stay stocked up on necessities, and yet doing so as safely as we possibly can. Stay safe, everyone!

If you have some safe grocery unpacking/unloading tips to share, please leave a comment below!

Prana Organics – Dark Chocolate and Organic Foods – FREE SHIPPING anywhere in Canada – No Minimums #StayHome

PRANA - Healthy Snacks, Organic Foods & Natural Products

PRANA is best known for their incredible packets of dark chocolate snacks. (Is it just me, or are we all especially excited to stock up on chocolate right now? I’m not lying when I say that chocolate even seems to be sneaking into my breakfast each day!) One of my favourites is their Algarve dark chocolate bark with almonds and sea salt. That small addition of the sea salt makes the combination the perfect balance between sweet and salty, and I keep dipping my hand into the bag for more!

#StayHome – Order Prana Chocolate online FREE Shipping with No Minimums

To ensure that you have a full chocolate stash to get you through this self-isolation, Prana is offering FREE shipping across Canada with absolutely no minimums. (I think this is one of the best shipping bargains I’ve come across yet!) So, load up on a few bags of their delicious snacks. Beyond chocolate, you’ll find organic trail mixes, dried fruit, nuts, and even nut butters. (This can be a handy place to order nut butter right now, if your local grocery store stock is still gone.) Their nut butters are: almond butter, pistachio nut butter, and hazelnut butter. (YUM!)

FREE DELIVERY anywhere in Canada with no minimum to help you #StayHome!

Prana’s online store remains OPEN for business. They are considered an essential business, because they sell food. Definitely pop by and take advantage of their generous shipping offer. Stay home, bargaineers, and stay safe. And add a little dark chocolate to your life, just because.

Calgary Grocery Delivery – Getting Safe Groceries during Coronavirus

Not very long ago, a quick trip to the grocery store was just a normal part of our day. Forgot a simple ingredient that you needed for that new recipe? Perhaps it was a lemon, or a head of fresh garlic, or a bunch of parsley. No problem! You could just quickly hop in the car or walk over to your favourite local grocery store or even farmer’s market, get what you needed and just head home.

Haven’t things changed quickly? And in a way we never would have expected? Grocery shopping now isn’t the simple pleasure it used to be. I used to love lingering over the fresh produce, selecting the most delicious looking apples, melons or peppers. But now – in the time of coronavirus – grocery shopping has become a necessary task, but one that can fill us with fear and anxiety.

Today, then, we will discuss some ways to ease that stress and keep safe from the virus while grocery shopping – by using grocery pick-up and grocery delivery services. That way, you don’t even have to leave the comfort and safety of your home!

Grocery Delivery services in Calgary

Thankfully, the Internet provides us with so many options to grocery shop online! Simply visit your favourite store online, and fill your virtual shopping cart and then arrange a time to either pick up your groceries, or have them delivered. Please keep in mind that stock may be limited, or even unavailable – especially on hot items like (you guessed it!) toilet paper, Lysol wipes and canned goods like beans or tuna.

  1. Prairie Farms in Willow Park Village – is a family-run produce market, previously operated out of the Calgary Farmer’s Market. You can order all your fresh produce here – their prices are great, and the produce is second to none. (Last fall, during apple season, their Ambrosia apples were literally my favourite thing to eat. They were as fresh as possible, and gorgeously crisp and delicious. The best apples I’d eaten in years!) Support a local business for your produce (and they also sell local farm fresh eggs, and locally and ethically produced meats.) And our small local businesses sure could use a hand right now!
  2. Real Canadian Superstore – This large supermarket offers both pick-up and grocery delivery. With current events being as they are, you may need to choose a delivery or pick up time that is about two days later than when you place your order. Delivery fees vary, depending on ‘Busy Times’ – meaning that you’ll pay more for premium delivery times, such as evenings. Pick-up services have a smaller fee attached to them…usually about $3-$5. Still, for someone picking out and packing your groceries for you, this is a reasonable cost!
  3. Walmart – I have used Walmart grocery pick-up services in the past (before the coronavirus outbreak) and I loved it! (You need to spend a minimum of $50 to get either pick-up or delivery.) Walmart grocery pick-up is FREE! For grocery delivery the fee is $9.97. The selection of products available is still quite good.
  4. Save-on Foods – offers delivery, and again their fees are higher for delivery at the most popular times. Their delivery charges range from $7-$10, which is still a great deal to get a large order of groceries brought right to your door!

Right now, stocking up on groceries feels more important than it ever has before. So, if you need to get some supplies in – try grocery pick-up or delivery options in the Calgary area. For a pretty reasonable fee, you can get the groceries and supplies that your family needs to be prepared!

What can I do if I Can’t Pay My Bills Because of Coronavirus?

Picture showing dilemma of how can I pay for bills during coronavirus

“I can’t pay my bills because I was laid off because of Coronavirus.” Sound familiar? This is a scary scenario but unfortunately this is a reality for many today amid this pandemic. This reality is apparent when we see that in just one week in Canada, over 1 million applied for EI or other emergency support benefits. If you find yourself in that scenario, what can you do to help yourself and your family?

Communication – Talk to Your Bank or Utilities providers

Communication seems overly simple but this is vital especially when everything is so fluid right now and it is hard to know what information is correct. So, whoever you pay bills to, you need to contact them and let them know your situation and see what options you have to lighten your bills because of your changing job situation, due to the coronavirus. There might be options to help. Here are some things you can do if you have bills to pay in these five main areas.

Mortgage Payments

A few days ago, the countries six largest banks announced a plan for deferral of mortgage payments to up to six months. Individuals and business owners should contact their bank to discuss available options. Each deferral request will be reviewed by a case by case basis.

Rental payments

At the moment there does not appear to be a program to address help for rentals. Some areas like Ontario are encouraging landlords not to evict anyone during this time. However, the best thing to do is to contact your landlord to see if there are any options to help provide some financial relief. You can also look into the government’s Covid-19 relief package to see if you qualify for any of the relief. Also, you can look into any provincial relief packages that your province might provide to help give you money to pay for your rent. (Updated March 26/20 – B.C. now has provided help of up to $500/month to help renters pay the rent on their homes.)

Car Payments

Contact your financial institution to see if there are options regarding paying the loan or lease of your vehicle due to financial hardship. For example here’s that information from the RBC website concerning this:

Client relief: The events surrounding COVID-19 are truly unprecedented and disrupting the daily lives of Canadians. RBC has put in place financial relief programs for personal and business clients who have experienced financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. To help clients with immediate relief, some of these programs are available by self-serve, including skip a mortgage payment, an auto-loan payment, and personal loan payment. These options will provide you with direct relief for one month. Please know that we will continue to work with you to provide further financial assistance, including further payment relief (for example, up to 6 months on mortgages), should you need our help.

Utility Payments Such as Power, Phone, TV, and Internet

It is best to contact your provider to see what options you have due to financial hardship. These companies and utility providers are well aware that many people are in this scenario and they are looking to assist. For example, here’s an excerpt from Shaw’s website:

We continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely and we know that the threat posed by the spread of the virus will result in some Shaw customers facing unexpected financial challenges. We also know that particularly in times like these, we rely on being connected – to our family, our friends, or our workplace – or keeping our families informed and entertained. If you are having any concerns about paying your monthly Shaw internet bill due to hardship resulting from the COVID-19 situation, we will work with you to find a flexible payment arrangement that considers your financial and connectivity needs.

Credit Card Payments

It is best to contact your financial institution and let them know of your situation. Communication again is key! Fortunately, many banks and financial institutions are reaching out to clients and letting them know their options to help lighten the financial burden. For example, here’s an email I received from Capital one:

We understand that COVID-19 is having an impact on our customers’ lives. For those who are experiencing financial distress, we’re working on options to provide support through this difficult time. As soon as we can, we will make more information on these options available.

For additional information about our response to the COVID-19 situation, please visit our webpage. We’ll continue to update it with relevant information.

Conclusion

Not being able to pay your bills during the Coronavirus pandemic is a horrible prospect. We are in uncharted waters and do not know how long this will go. As result, it’s hard to make decisions – especially financial ones. The best thing we can do is to get as much information as possible on our options for potential relief by directly communicating to the companies we owe money to.

There’s an old saying that there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors. This is true because the more information we get from our creditors, the greater chance of some sort of financial relief. So look at your bills one at a time and see if there is a chance of some sort of relief. The result might be a little less stress in these already very stressful times. Take care and be safe.