Discussion Post: Have You Gone Grocery Shopping Yet? What Is It Like?

This feels like a pleasant community building kind of topic, right? Not scary, not panic inducing, and something that it is nice to feel other people are going through it as well.

Grocery shopping! It’s a big thing all over the world right now, but it is also a unique thing all over the world, household by household. So, let’s all share our own experiences in a nice pleasant chummy chat room kind of way!

I combined households with my parents, which meant that I jumped to the very high end of no-grocery shopping. I am sure many of you also did the delivery thing, so that’s not super interesting, but there were a couple of fun unusual things I ran across. First, I got very big on groceries-from-restaurants delivery. Panera and Potbelly in particular. It’s great, they get money and aren’t throwing away food they can’t sell, and I get stuff that is kind of hard to find in stores through a different channel. But it also let me see how food comes to restaurants, and it’s WEIRD. Like, pre-sliced cheese in strange insta-seal bags.

And second, for produce, I found this company that barely even had a website but offered to do weekly produce deliveries to your door. It worked pretty good right from the start, and just got better as they figured things out like emailing to let us know what day the food would be arriving and things. Lately they even set up a Facebook group for customers to share recipes. And finally they were profiled on local news so I found out what they heck they are. They were a company that had deals to get wholesale food straight to their warehouse at cheap, and then they would pack it up and deliver it to restaurants. When all the restaurants shut down, they were scrambling and started offering delivery to People instead. So once again, I now have a behind the scenes new way of looking at restaurants! We always get some kind of fresh fruit and vegetables, and onions and potatoes. So if I were running a diner, I could put on my menu “fruit plate” and “mixed vegetables”, and then just use whatever the heck showed up in my discount produce box that week. This explains so much!

NYC Chinese Food Delivery: Restaurants Still Open During ...
This is also, I am thinking, why Chinese food is such a successful restaurant business model. You just get whatever is cheap that week, slice it up, stirfry it, and call it a day. So much cheaper than committing to the same vegetable every week no matter the price.

So we did that for three months, but now things are supposed to be a lot safer around us and I started letting Mom and Dad out to grocery shop at Senior Hours. I put off shopping myself longer than that, because I can’t do Senior Hours and I didn’t want to risk bringing something home. But my caution was finally overridden by my cheapness. I have CostCo cash burning a whole in my pocket, and it can only be used by the CostCo member (me) in person. So today for a fun adventure, I went to CostCo. And it was basically the same as usual?

Has CostCo been super weird all along and we never noticed it? Like, their aisles are enormous! Every other store I’ve heard had to be restructured to make more space, not CostCo! They didn’t even have to move things on the shelves, the more essential items were already the most popular items with the easiest to reach space. I saw a big piled up mountain of toilet paper and thought “oh yes, because it’s so in demand, they put it in a big pile like that”. And then I thought “oh wait, there’s always a big pile of massive toilet paper in this part of the store”. Or, like, I arrived over half an hour before opening and there were people lined up outside waiting for the doors to open. Which seemed very scary and strange, until I remembered the one other time I happened to get there half an hour before opening on a Saturday, and there were also people lined up outside waiting for it to open.

Costco | History & Facts | Britannica

The biggest difference was speed. Check out was a lot faster, I knew that would happen with limiting the people in the store. But I hadn’t realized how much just maneuvering around folks while shopping slows me down. Zipped through the freezer aisle, no waiting for people to get out of the way so I could open doors. Finding things was a breeze, instead of having to slowly maneuver around people and look aisle by aisle to find where they put my favorite drink, I could just use my eyes and see straight through every aisle with no human obstacles. Oh, and parking was a great too, got a space right by the door no problem. It was twenty minutes start to finish! Just shocking. CostCo is usually my whole project for a day, and now I’ve got nothing to do with the rest of my Saturday.

So, that’s my grocery story. What’s yours?

14 thoughts on “Discussion Post: Have You Gone Grocery Shopping Yet? What Is It Like?

  1. On the first weeks of this, the toilet paper, hand sanitizers and plastic gloves were gone from the shelves, and one could see in the local shop that A LOT of bread stands were also close to empty. Things are more organized here in the city than in other cities further North, especially when it comes to grocery shopping.

    Now, things are quite calm, not everyone has masks (we were lucky to get some special ordered as well as just common masks) thanks to the government’s blunder in getting them. It was quite the scandal and the guy who messed up was replaced swiftly. Glove wearing is only for the small shop we go to, while if its a large supermarket the gloves aren’t as much of a big deal, but we wear them if we feel like it. In some of the larger supermarkets in Helsinki, they have automatic hand sanitizers for you when you walk to the shop and some are set up outside it as well. Only you pick up the receipt now if you want it and its a bit of a motion my hand is still learning (living with parents, Dad is usually the one who goes shopping). Social distancing rules are adhered to strictly everywhere and my grandparents haven’t gone away from their house since this started except for a haircut in the city, otherwise, the food is brought to them.

    I went to buy some things two days in a row since it was the Midsummer festival say (the thing is to be awake as long as possible since the sun doesn’t set at all. This year I went to sleep at 5 AM-ish!). Nothing radical, still quite sleepy in the shops (since it’s summer and we live in an area full of families and old people). Except for those things mentioned, nothing much is different at least here in the suburbs.

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    • The receipt thing threw me too! At my store it was a printed receipt, so it printed out chug-chug-chug and then I was told to take it myself, meaning I got to rip it from the machine myself. It would have felt less weird if the person ripped it and left it on the counter for me to pick up, ripping it off myself somehow was crossing the line into “wait, this isn’t my job! This isn’t what a customer is supposed to be allowed to do!”

      Masks are required on everyone in stores in my state, part of the governor’s order. But they are a hodge-podge, mostly fabric, some handmade and some store bought. It’s fun seeing what everyone is wearing.

      On Sat, Jun 20, 2020 at 1:40 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I know I feel the same! The whole motion of ‘what to do in the store’ mechanics your body has is thrown out completely because of now. Like, I don’t pick up a lot of stuff anymore, just choose, check if its good quality or the overdue date and take it. If not any of them, then a careful look at where you touch the object. Then afterwards, hand sanitizer as you walk away from the store.

        I was the only one wearing a mask. A green one with white flowers made to order. I suspect more self made designs are in Helsinki or in other big cities, but not here.

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        • I missed browsing. Usually I am a “look at everything on every shelf and pick up whatever looks interesting” kind of shopper. This time I just went straight to the stuff I knew I would want/need, picked it up, and took it right back out again. Boring!

          On Sat, Jun 20, 2020 at 1:57 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • This whole thing really has taken the joy out of just browsing or just even saying “I’m just looking” to the saleswoman. It’s the reason why buying new clothes just feels unwarranted now, because what’s the use of buying new clothes if you can’t pick and choose and browse. Especially when we all are basically accepting that if a person looks like they just woke up and put on some clothes without makeup or anything fancy is “normal”. Persoanlly, I find it liberating not having to care about makeup at all and I can just concentrate on skincare, a bit of filling in the brows and light mascara, otherwise, nothing else is needed. That’s at least one positive thing in all this.

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          • I have to wear more makeup than ever because I’m on Zoom calls all day long. And I try to at least put on a nice blouse or kurti with jewelry. It’s funny dressing for “the office” in this new environment. I’m experimenting more with eye makeup since that’s what people see of me on video.

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          • My work outfits have changed basically not at all. Which I think is a sign of how lax my office is/was 🙂 We do all our client interactions over the phone, no video calls since we use the computer screens to show things instead. My boss used to jog to the office and spend the day working in shorts and a sweaty shirt. The rest of us tended towards leggings and old t-shirts. We have continued our “no video calls ever” corporate policy, so the make-up/clothes have remained the same. I assume. I haven’t seen my co-workers in 3 months because No Video Calls. Maybe everyone else is wearing ball gowns and not telling me?

            On Sat, Jun 20, 2020 at 9:47 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. The first grocery shopping was odd, because I didn’t think about it much and only realized I haven’t been in a supermarket for months, when I saw a snack my son likes. I was like: Man I haven’t seen this snack for months–wait, I literally haven’t seen or think about it for a long long time. We didn’t think about this kind of food during the lockdown and it felt so good to see those products still exist and I can buy them now.

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    • The packaged goods like snacks are easy here, you can get them delivered from all kinds of places. It’s the fresh fruit I find myself missing the post, I bought an enormous watermelon today and I don’t even have the space to store it, I was just so excited about fresh fruit.

      On Sat, Jun 20, 2020 at 4:52 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Yes, fresh fruits and vegatables was the biggest problem here too. For weeks we couldn’t leave our town. There were no markets. The street vendors from other towns weren’t allowed to come (and all the street vendors who sell fresh food are not from our town). Our little supermarket had to provide for all us, and you can imagine the quality and quantity they could give you. There were nights I dreamed about fresh lettuce.

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  3. We’ve been shopping all along because my husband hates grocery delivery. When we first went into lockdown supermarkets looked like a scene out of a post-apocalyptic film. Entire aisles with empty shelves. We had masks right away because we’d bought N95 masks last year for fire season (ah California). We were eating expensive cuts of meat because all the cheap cuts sold out. Now things have settled down and we’ve figured out where to shop. Our stores are Trader Joe’s, a warehouse store called Smart and Final and a local ranch market. We know what we need to buy and we try to limit our time in the stores to 30 minutes or less. I miss browsing grocery stores and going to the drugstore to buy cosmetics (I’m ordering that stuff online but it’s not the same). And I REALLY miss eating at my favorite restaurants. But we’re eating pretty well and shopping goes pretty smoothly now that we have a routine.

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    • I’m kind of sad I missed that! It was so boring getting groceries delivered, we were getting the “empty aisles” effect second hand and that was just tedious. Kept getting little updates about things that weren’t available and they had to substitute.

      On Sat, Jun 20, 2020 at 9:45 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. It’s good to get these firsthand insights. In Germany things are almost back to normal. “Do you know anyone who’s been sick of COVID?” That’s the question of the hour here. People are fed up with the restrictions that still exist.

    We never stopped going to the grocery store; even during the strictest part of lockdown, those were still open. Yeah, people kept trying to buy insane amounts of toilet paper in the beginning, causing shortages. And for one of my special Easter dishes, we had to go to a second store to get the yeast. But everything’s now back to normal on that front.

    When other stores reopened too, masks became mandatory (mostly for anything indoors). Still mostly fabric, but even those needed to be produced when the pandemic first hit. By now, when we go outside of rush hours, there isn’t even a line in front of the store anymore. You try to keep the minimum distance from the other customers, but you don’t panic if for a few seconds you can’t.

    Last time I went shopping, there was a sign on the coffee isle from one of the filter producers: They wanted to discourage people from using their product for homemade masks.

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    • Huh. Just as we were saying “do we even know anyone who got it?” about 2 and a half months ago, we got word that my cousin got it, and then her boyfriend and all their roommates. So, yes! I do! And then a whole bunch more people I know after that, but it made me nervous about saying “do we even know…” since apparently God is listening and wants to prove you wrong.

      Ha to the coffee filters! I gave those away with the masks I was making, and I was so happy. Because I got a new coffee maker for Christmas that doesn’t take filters and I had this whole backlog and nothing to do with them. I think I am finally filter free and will never buy more ever ever again for the rest of my life.

      On Sun, Jun 21, 2020 at 7:07 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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