The past few weeks have been a trying time for a lot of us. Learning how to adjust our habits and structure our time can be a challenge.  As a Professional Organizer and Home Stager, there has definitely been an impact not only to my business but to myself personally.  Like so many others whose main source of income came from helping others in their homes, re- inventing ways to offer our products and services in a different way has become a daily activity.  As a person who enjoys the “hands on”, creative experience of helping people through their transitions in life, I miss the one on one experience that I enjoyed so much. 😥

Aside from being a small business owner, I am also the wife of an essential services worker who is over the age of 60. I don’t have any small children at home, however I do have elders in my life that rely on us to help keep them stocked up on the things they need.   Careful planning, strict adherence to the rules and guidelines set out to us by our government and health officials, as well as practicing new safe daily habits is essential to ensure the health and safety of our family.

One of the practices that I have been working on is limiting the times we need to leave our home, and when we do leave, its done quickly, efficiently and safely to ensure we are doing our part in keeping ourselves and others safe.

I have put together some information that perhaps will help you do the same when it comes to gathering and keeping food and supplies in your home. I have included links to other resources for information to help guide you and your family through these times.

“Plan Ahead”

Meal planning – One of the things I have always tried to do even prior to the pandemic was to plan our meals for the week. Knowing exactly what we will be eating and how much helps tremendously prior to going out to the store. There are many benefits to planning ahead. It helps you know how much you are spending every week. It helps avoid purchasing items you may not use thus preventing waste. It helps save you time in trying to figure out what you are going to make for dinner every night. It keeps you eating properly with healthier options in maintaining a good balance of nutrition at every meal. Create your shopping list directly from the meal plan so you can ensure nothing gets missed.  

**Shopping List Tip!!** Create your list in order of the “flow” you take with your local grocer. For example. Usually we enter into produce dept, then bread, then meat, etc. By arranging your list in the same order as the flow of your grocery store it will prevent you from having to double back to get these items. Right now, there are arrows directing traffic flow within the store so doubling back is not an option!!

 There are several templates or apps you can download to help you with this process. I personally like using “free printables” from Pinterest or Office Word and keep these handy by placing a Command Hook inside a cabinet or pantry door for easy reference. The printable pictured above I found on Pinterest  Smartmommylife.com They also have a shopping checklist, recipe planner and inventory checklists. You have to provide your email for them to send you the downloads, but I didn’t mind knowing I can put them to good use 😊   

Keeping Inventory – In the past, I would go through my fridge, freezer and pantry once a week and throw out any unused, spoiled or expired items, give a quick wipe down of the fridge to prepare for new items coming in on the next day’s shopping trip. This is done now with longer periods in between, and my shopping days are different in keeping with less busier times.

When I prepared my inventory, I created a list each for fridge, freezer and pantry and household. The process of going through each area took approximately 2 hours. It helped me spend some time doing something I enjoy (organizing) and it distracted me from the pressures of the world for a little while!

*Tip* Why not involve the kids in this process?! It helps keep everyone busy for awhile at the same time you can teach them how to look for expiry dates on packaging!

“This is a simple excel spreadsheet and I found the template on Word on my computer. You can create one each for pantry, fridge and freezer. Use a small command hook on the inside of your pantry door, keep them together with a binder clip and hang these there for easy reference” 😊

Keeping a regularly scheduled inventory list helps you avoiding unnecessary trips to the store on items you didn’t think you had…

Freezing your Fruits and Veggies

This is something we can do especially if we are shopping for 2 weeks or more and don’t want our produce to spoil in the meantime. Most fruits and veggies can be frozen by either “flash freezing”, parboiling or simply placing the item as is in the freezer. Meats, certain cheeses, breads, flour (yes this can be used straight from the freezer) are all items that we can help keep their freshness by freezing.

I have included a link to another article below that lists all the foods we can freeze including the process and timing for each.

Shopping methods

If you are anything like me,  I have to mentally prepare myself and plan every move before I venture out the door knowing that I will be embarking on anxiety producing situations. I have been paying attention to social media posts where people are reaching out to offer free delivery, researching delivery and pick up options from our local stores, as well as developing a system for the days I do have to venture out. This will ensure I am doing everything I can to stop the spread.

Online Shopping – After going on several online grocery store websites and looking at their online ordering systems it appears that few had a system in place to respond to the current demands. If you were to place an order today you may be looking at minimum 8 days before you are able to pick them up, and there is no guarantee you will receive all of the items you have ordered.  A possible solution would be to stock up for 14 – 16 days. Pick up one order and immediately place your next order for 8 days ahead. This can be done with careful planning. By using the meal planning and inventory systems mentioned above you can help limit the amount of time either you or someone else has to be in the stores. For those unable to purchase enough items for this amount of time, and I realize that number is rising, then arranging weekly delivery from a local company or carefully planning your shopping trips may be your only option.

Order Your Produce

“Use Our Delivery Companies!” – Keep our small business owners in business. It think its wonderful to see all the caring individuals offering free shopping and delivery services for those in need. It shows just how awesome our community can be in helping each other get through this . However, before offering to shop for free or reaching out to someone who does, please consider the following:

  • Does the individual offering these services practice safe, self distancing procedures, proper hand washing and sanitizing and use all the necessary precautions when shopping for your food? Professional Delivery Services and Local Restaurants are required by law to follow our current regulated health guidelines. They practice proper sanitizing measures when shopping and delivering, and they are often faster and more efficient working around a store  than those individuals doing this for the first time.
  • A professional delivery service is often times a small business owner and as such, this may be their main source of income. They are currently considered an Essential Service.  When everything does return to normal and you go back to doing whatever it is was you were doing, they will still be here helping deliver your groceries😉

**Note** Home Interrupted has always offered grocery shopping as a “value added service” to my organizing customers. This was a way to help them maintain their newly organized kitchen and pantry.  Currently, we are offering grocery delivery services one to two days per week only.  Please feel free to contact us for availability or a list of referrals to our local delivery companies and restaurants offering meals and supplies.

  • I have always believed there are more good people in this world than bad and during the recent weeks I have been witness to both. By offering to pick up and deliver groceries for others for free, not only are you putting your own health at risk, or you could risk having your goodwill being taken advantage of by others. A potential scenario; a person orders from you and other free delivery services for the same items at the same time. If you continue, please ensure proper vetting prior to shopping.  

Use a designated shopper for family– Sending one member of your family to do the shopping is the ideal way to help limit the spread. This may be difficult for those who are shopping for a larger group. Only take on what you can and designate either another person to shop at different times, reach out to a delivery service or shop online for non perishable items only. Use your shopping days for the perishables and essentials limiting the amount of time spent in the store.

Establish a receiving area– I have adopted a new procedure for when I bring items home from the store and prior to delivery to an elder family member. This process may be “over the top” to some,  but it makes me feel like I really have done everything I can. 😊 We have all heard that the virus can live on a surfaces for several days. One way to deal with this is to set up an area in your garage or entry way to clean off all the plastic or container covered groceries before bringing them into your home using a disinfectant wipe. Alternatively, if you can do without them for awhile and they don’t really require fridge or freezer, simply leave them in a covered space for a few days for added safety. Wash all produce in the sink with soapy water for at least 20 seconds before putting in your fridge.

Community Services– We have tremendous resources within our own community that offer support for people of all ages, income status, health status, housing situation and much more. They already have the distribution systems in place to respond to a crisis such as this. Our local Food Bank is now offering services Monday to Friday to help reach more people in need.

If you or someone you know is in need of food, medical, or other services please reach out to them first. Please visit MyDufferin.ca for a full list of community services including links to Food Share and Meals on Wheels. 

In a world full of chaos I hope this helps you to find some order in your life. Stay safe, stay healthy, stay connected. 

Alana xo


Links:

 9 Etiquette Rules of Grocery Shopping During the Covid-19 Pandemic.

How to Freeze Fruits and Vegetables

MyDufferin.ca

Canada Public Health