Tips for Grocery Shopping during COVID-19 Pandemic

How to plan, prepare, and shop during the COVID-19 Pandemic

While you may feel anxious and uncertain about the pandemic, there is no need to panic and rush to purchase and stockpile supplies. Many of us are confused with how and when to grocery shop and what to buy.

Grocery stores are public spaces. If you have been asked to self-isolate or if you are feeling unwell, please stay home and avoid all public spaces.  If you have been asked to self-isolate, this means that you will need a friend, family member, neighbour, or delivery service to get your groceries for you until your isolation period is done.

There are several grocery stores and meal programs that will deliver foods to your home.  Please visit for more details.

If you are feeling well and have not traveled outside the country, you can shop at local stores.  You may also consider asking your older neighbour or relative if they would like help in getting groceries.

Remember, before and after grocery shopping, wash your hands and bring hand sanitizer with 70% alcohol if you have it.


Here is some advice on how to grocery shop. 

  1. There is no need to stockpile. Fortunately, in Canada our food supply chain is one of the strongest in the world.  In a statement put out by the Ontario government, they are committed to ensuring Ontarians can access healthy and nutritious foods.  There are no plans to stop the supply of products to meet food related needs.


  1. Practice normal grocery buying habits. If you normally go once a week then continue with this schedule.  If you go several times a week, you could plan to buy a week’s worth of food and supplies instead, to prevent having to go out in public more often.  Social distancing does not mean we cannot go to stores if we are feeling well. Reducing the amount of time we are in public spaces and in crowds is key.


  1. Go during non-peak times. If your schedule allows for it, shopping during off-peak times gives greater distance between you and other shoppers.  Shopping during off-peak hours when stores aren’t crowded further reduces your risk of exposure to viruses.  We’ve all become familiar with a term called social distancing. This is where you want to keep 2 meters away from others.


  1. You may consider disinfecting the grocery cart. Many businesses including grocery stores have ramped up their disinfecting procedures.  If you have a disinfectant wipe with you, it is good hygiene practice to clean the handle of the shopping cart.  When in public spaces, avoid touching your face, and sneeze and cough into your elbow.  As soon as you can, wash your hands.  Here is a resource to help keep you and your family healthy.


  1. Consider purchasing nourishing and less-perishable foods. Here are some suggested items:


Canned beans and lentils, tomatoes, tomato paste, canned meat such as tuna and salmon

  • Nut butters and nuts
  • Pasta, quinoa, rice, oatmeal, whole grain bread
  • Soup Stock
  • Eggs
  • Margarine, Butter, cheese, and yogurt
  • Frozen vegetables and fruits
  • Longer lasting produce such as citrus fruit, broccoli, cauliflower, root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, squash, onions
  • Meat like turkey, ground beef, chicken, fish
  • Tofu
  • Vinegars and Olive oil, canola oil
  • Spices like chili powder, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, dried oregano, dried tarragon.
  • Many of these items can be frozen.


  1. There is no need to stock up on bottled water. Municipal tap water is a safe source for water.


  1. Healthy eating gives you the nourishment your body needs. A healthy diet pattern that meets Canada’s Food Guide recommendations does not need additional vitamins and minerals or supplementation.


If you have any questions regarding COVID-19, visit our Chatham Kent Public Health’s website at or email

14 Comments on “Tips for Grocery Shopping during COVID-19 Pandemic”

  1. Good Day,
    What grocery stores, if any, in Chatham are allotting hours for seniors only?
    Shoppers Drug Mart is, apparently, on board but their dairy products are always spoiled. I have returned eggs, as well as milk, twice. …
    So not an option.
    Grocery stores in bigger cities have offered up an hour or two to seniors. Will Chatham?
    The gov’t classifies is as the “vulnerable population.”
    We have the money, and just ask for the opportunity to spend it.
    Thank you : )
    Dianne Stephen 66 and working

    1. Hi Dianne, lots of information is changing on store hours and supports for seniors that is challenging for us to keep up with and monitor. Please connect with your local store to confirm what’s available and when. Thanks for your message.

    2. Hi Dianne,

      I noticed today that Sobey’s in Blenheim is offering up an hour in the morning for seniors, so I would think that Chatham is the same. I heard something about No Frills in Chatham doing that too, but I’m sorry, I can’t substantiate that claim. Try calling Superstore and Walmart to see if they’re doing it as well. I can’t see why they wouldn’t be if other stores are getting on board with it. I wish you well!

      Good luck and stay safe!


      1. Hi Sherri, we’re trying to compile these details and hopefully can share more information when we hear back from stores.

  2. And the seniors are buying all the cleaning products and TP. Been to 2 stores that have “seniors hours” and they both told me that they were restocked but sold out after the senior hour was up. What about TP for families? I have 6 living here.

  3. I have noticed that stores are finally setting limits to prevent people from hoarding and giving others a chance ..finally! Now they are limiting how many go into the store to promote social distancing, but they have only moved the problem to outside. Now you have a line up of people outside the store coughing on each other, but you can’t move or you can’t get food!! Why can’t they issue tickets with numbers so we can wait in our cars and have an electric sign to show the next number to go in? Just an idea, maybe there are other ones that would work.

    1. Hi Cheryl, we updated and shared some recommendations for retail stores yesterday. This is definitely a concern and we will address this through our community partnerships.

      1. Thanks for answering my initial question!
        Now, another:
        Where, exactly, have you posted these updates for participating stores who are willing to cater to seniors for an hour or so!
        Dianne Stephen

  4. Hi,
    I was wondering about the stores totally closing to the public, just having staff inside to stock shelves and take phone orders from the public? The staff could fill the orders and bag them up and then the public could pick them up and staff could place in the trunk of the car. Less exposure for the staff and the public this way. Payment could be made over the phone with a credit card or tap the debit card with employees using a portable POS machine

    1. Thanks for the suggestion Jill. As of now those items are not in the guidelines but could be possible as things continue to unfold.

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