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Being asked to stay at home as much as possible, to socially distance yourself when out, means shopping is now a more deliberate exercise.
Going in without a list can lead to a more frazzled experience as shelves get empty and certain necessities become harder to find.
With no plan, you're more likely to buy things you think you need but don't — like way too much toilet paper instead of a pack of chicken. Rather than waste your money on what you don't need to keep at home during this uncertain time, plan ahead and shop smart.
According to recent data collected by LendingTree, Americans are spending $178 on average stockpiling supplies during the coronavirus isolation. Supplies range from food to alcohol, medications and cleaning products.
We all know that cleaning and paper products are topping the list as stores immediately began selling out or setting buying limits on things like paper towels and Clorox wipes. Some of these purchases make sense, some don't.
A good rule of thumb is to not buy more than you actually need for about three weeks at the most. Overbuying not only leads to spoiled food or a lack of storage space, but it can put important items in short supply for everyone else.
Think about what you use in an average week when it comes to items that quickly expire like fruits, veggies and milk. Over-buying these items can lead to waste, so don't get more than a two-week supply for any of these. If you feel like you need a little more fruit or vegetables just in case, hit the frozen section and grab an extra bag of your favorites.
Canned goods, dried pasta, rice or beans are always good to have around. In a dinner emergency, they come in handy every time. You might already have a small stockpile in your pantry. If you do, great. Go through what you have first. If not, don't go crazy at the store.
Most people don't think about their toiletries until they run out. Then, it was a quick trip to the store to grab the one item you needed. Today, with the coronavirus keeping people at home, it's not a good idea to keep going back and forth to the store, so you have to think ahead.
Consider picking up these essentials:
Take a quick inventory of your everyday toiletry items. Everything should have one backup, so if you're on the last bottle of something you use regularly, even if you have half a container left, grab one more the next time you're at the store.
If you do get sick, you'll need to make sure you have a fully stocked medicine cabinet. Some stores are limiting the amount of over-the-counter medication you can purchase or they might be sold out, so some of these items might be difficult to find:
A variety of these are getting harder and harder to find, so don't stockpile. Make sure you have what you need for now and when a container begins to run low, start looking for it at the store. Having five bottles of things like an all-purpose cleaner is unnecessary and takes up a lot of extra space.
That said, some supplies, like hand sanitizer, have become impossible to find, yet are in high demand. While it's hard to find the finished product, you can make items like these on your own. To make your own spray sanitizer, you'll need:
In spray form, you can use it on your hands and around the house, focusing on commonly touched items like doorknobs and light fixtures.
As you shop for yourself and your home, don't forget about your furriest family members. Staying on top of supplies of pet food and cat litter is important since again, it's harder to rush out at the last minute. Keep an eye on supply and as you get low on any given pet item, add it to your next shopping trip.
While grocery stores will stock smaller amounts of food and have less variety, if you can grab what you need for your pets while you're shopping for yourself, all the better. If not, do a pet store run where you buy a little more than what you use regularly to avoid making multiple trips. There are also mail-order options just for pet items.
When you buy too much of an item, there's a trickle-down effect. Grocery stores struggle to keep stock on the shelves and people who need materials can't get them. Don't hoard, but instead, buy what you need for a few weeks at a time.
“Try not to strain the system further," says Wired, “or some people in your community won't have access to items they need." In addition to not over-buying, keep these items out of your shopping cart altogether:
While this is a lot to remember, the most important way to approach shopping is with a list. Now is not the time to impulse shop. Staying organized, planning meals ahead of time, taking inventory of your pantry, fridge and freezer means you'll shop smarter and only buy what you actually want in your home.
Don't get upset if not everything on your list is available as you shop. Pick meals that are easy to adjust if ingredients are missing. Try to shop just once a week, if that often, in order to stay clear of people and give others a chance to get their shopping done. If we all work together to shop smart, the supplies we need will be on the shelves when we need them.