Young african man buying vegetables in grocery section at supermarket. Black man choose vegetables in the supermarket while holding grocery basket. Man shopping veggies at supermarket.

This Version Posted: June 26, 2020

The current COVID-19 situation is creating many challenges, especially knowing what to do about food. The need to practise physical distancing while shopping is essential, but a visit to the grocery store can also lead to additional problems due to empty shelves and limited food selection. Knowing how to make the most of the food you buy and have at home is important so try these tips: 

Storing/Using Food at Home
  • Properly store vegetables and fruits to help them last longer. For example, root vegetables prefer cool, dark places, while apples are best kept in the fridge crisper. Click on the resources below to learn more:  
  • Use food scraps in other recipes. For example: 
    • Bones from meat can be used to make a soup stock 
    • Limp/ wilted vegetables can be put into soups  
    • Stale bread could be made into breadcrumbs or it could be microwaved and turned into croutons
    • Bake potato peels with a little bit of oil and seasoning and turn them into a snack
  • See beans and pulses in a new light, with these ideas:
    • Toss chickpeas, beans and or lentils with any vinaigrette for an easy protein-packed bean salad. Add some rice to make it a complete protein.
    • Ground dried chickpea and turn it into chickpea flour. Substitute half the amount of all-purpose flour with chickpea flour in your recipes
    • Purée chickpeas with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and tahini to make a quick and tasty hummus, which can be used as a dip or spread
    • Add beans, lentils or chickpeas into soups
    • Mix chickpeas with your favorite spices for a delicious side or snack
Buying Food at the Store

If you need to buy groceries, just get enough supplies for what you need so everyone has enough. Plan ahead: see what you need and come up with meal ideas for the coming week to save you time at the store. Here are suggested items to get:

  • Vegetables and Fruit:
    • Fresh veggies with a longer shelf like include: beets, carrots, parsnips, turnip, potatoes, squash and onions
    • Fresh fruit with a longer shelf life include: apples, melon, oranges and grapefruit
    • Frozen and canned vegetables/fruit, dried fruit, applesauce and tomato sauce 
  • Whole-Grain Choices include: rice, couscous, quinoa, bread (with longer shelf life), tortillas, pasta, dry and hot cereals, bread rusks, crackers, granola bars
  • Protein Choices:
    • Frozen/canned meat and fish
    • Low-sodium canned soups/stews
    • Yogurt, eggs, hard cheese, non-refrigerated milk
    • Canned/dried beans chickpeas, lentils, nuts, seeds, nut butter
  •  Other Pantry Items: 
    • Whole grain flour, oil, non-hydrogenated margarine, coffee, tea, spices, condiments
    • Meal replacements (if taken for specific medical conditions)

Keep Food Safety in Mind

Currently, there are no reports of COVID-19 transmission through handling groceries or similar items.  But as always, it’s a good idea to wash your hands frequently (including before and after handling groceries), and practise food safety. This includes:

  • Washing your hands BEFORE and AFTER handling food
  • Perishable foods should be properly stored or refrigerated to stop bacterial growth and to reduce the risk of foodborne illness
  • Wash fruits and vegetables under cold running water. It is not recommended to use household and body soap on food that you will eat. If you choose to use a cleaning product on food, only use food-grade cleaners directly on food and follow label instructions
  • Ensure foods are cooked and reheated to the proper internal temperature to avoid foodborne illness 
  • Get more advice about food safety during COVID-19 here.
Additional Resources: