dietitian feeds her kids

Tips for minimizing trips to the grocery store during COVID-19

By Caitlyn Truty, registered dietitian at CHOC

Now more than ever, it is important to keep your family nourished and healthy. For your safety and the safety of those around you during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is also crucial to minimize your time spent grocery shopping and reduce the frequency of your grocery runs. Having a plan and making a strategic grocery list ahead of time will ensure your visits to the store are as quick and efficient as possible, and that you don’t have to make them as often. Use the following tips when planning your next venture to the store:

Take inventory

Before leaving home, take inventory of what you have on hand to know what you do and do not need. This will help prevent the need for multiple grocery trips for missed or forgotten items. Knowing what you already have will also help with meal planning and finalizing your grocery list.

Plan for two weeks

Plan out your family’s meals for about two weeks. Plan to make meals that will yield leftovers that are easy to freeze for later consumption. If you’re using up fresh produce during the first week after a grocery store trip, plan to get creative by using non-perishable foods during the second week to extend the time between your grocery store visits. Use canned or frozen meats, vegetables, and fruits in your home recipes and be sure to keep other nutrient-dense, non-perishables on hand to incorporate into your meals and snacks. Here are some ideas:

  • Add canned fruit to your yogurt or cottage cheese and top oatmeal or salads with dried fruit.
  • Incorporate canned vegetables into your favorite casserole dish or use as toppings for taco bowls.
  • Spread nut butters on toast or add to smoothies. Keep nuts or trail mix around for snacking.
  • Use canned meat such as chicken to fill enchiladas and add canned beans or lentils to soup or salad.
  • Add rice, quinoa, barley or other cooked grains to salads or simply use as a side dish for any meal.

Make a strategic grocery list

Create a complete grocery list before going to the store. Organize your list by matching similar foods and their location in the grocery store. This will prevent you from running back and forth between aisles. has an easy grocery list template to help you organize your list, and ensure you come home with a variety of foods from each food group to support balanced nutrition.

Avoid browsing

Once at the store, stick to your grocery list and avoid unnecessary browsing. Choose one store to shop at to avoid running around town. Also, if able, go grocery shopping by yourself. This will not only help with social distancing but will also eliminate distraction so you can get in and out as quickly as possible.

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