How to Grocery Shop during a Pandemic

Jen Lyman, dietitian at New Leaf Nutrition, cuts up a grapefruit

When I walked through my local grocery store a month ago it literally felt like a zombie movie. There was no pasta, no bread, and hardly any meat. Lots of shelves were nearly empty and that was pretty scary—the idea that my family might become food insecure is something I’ve never had to worry about before, but it seemed like a real possibility at the time. Since then, the grocery store near my house has been much better about keeping up with the demand (or maybe people are relaxing a little bit, it’s hard to say) and the shelves aren’t empty, but there are definitely items that I expect to be there that aren’t there, or if they are there, they’re a slightly different version or different quality than I’m used to. 

Because I never know what will be available when I go to the store I haven’t been doing a whole lot of meal planning because I don’t want to spend a lot of time searching for specific items when everything in me is screaming to get out of there and go back home where it’s safe. I know I can throw meals together if I buy protein, carbs, and vegetables (I have plenty of oils and seasoning at home), so I’ve been getting a wide variety of each and calling it good. I also know that there is NO WAY I’m getting through a pandemic without snacks and treats, so I make sure to pick up some cereal, sweets, and bars (Lara bars, KIND bars…Nutty Bars haha, it’s the truth!). 

Here’s a link to my normal Aldi grocery list in case you need some grocery store inspiration. It’s not an end-all list and you can absolutely trade out foods to better meet your preferences, but seeing what other people like is really helpful for me and I hope it’s useful for you as well. 

Citrus fruit cut and squeezed on a white background

If you like to meal plan and it gives you comfort to have a plan for your food, you can definitely do that! I really like using Mealime because it creates a grocery list for you based on the meals you pick and then links the list to grocery delivery or pickup services near you, which is so helpful in general, but especially right now.  Mealime also offers suggestions for ingredient replacement in case the grocery store is out of the item you need. 

If food is feeling really out of control for you right now please send us a message. There are really simple things we can do to create balance and give food less power over you! I promise we’re not the food police and won’t make you eat boiled chicken, brown rice, and broccoli for every meal—that’d be a very sad existence.  Remember, even if you’re sitting at home all day you still need to eat. The food choices we make can have a direct impact on how we feel, and you deserve to eat well and feel good! 

-Jen Lyman, RDN, LD, CLT

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