5 Must-Know Facts About Buying Produce During the Pandemic

by Kristen Keen, MBA, RD, LDN

Last Updated: April 29, 2020

Grocery shopping today looks a lot different than it did a few months ago—from new in-store safety measures to what products you can find on the shelves. As people stock up on items, what you are able to purchase may be affected. While canned and frozen foods are great shelf-stable options, you may be wondering about the safety of purchasing fresh produce—especially since right now it may be easier to find fresh strawberries than many other items that would have seemed all-too-ordinary before the crisis. Check out these tips to help you feel more comfortable when purchasing fresh produce at the grocery.

Pro Tip: If you are unable to find ‘no salt added’ versions of your favorite beans, rinse them in water to reduce salt content by about 20%.
  1. No evidence of virus transmission via food.
    According to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), there are no documented cases of the coronavirus as a result of transmission from food or food packaging. As an extra safeguard, you can wipe down and air-dry product packaging. You should also continue to rinse your fresh produce purchases with water before consuming or preparing the produce, as recommended by the FDA long before the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. Look for pre-packaged produce for an easy grab and go.
    As you try to minimize your time in the aisles, consider bagged items such as apples, oranges, grapes, greens, onions, celery, potatoes, and corn, as well as items that are sold in containers like strawberries, tomatoes, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, greens, raspberries, and kiwis.
  3. Eat local.
    Keep an eye out for local products that support small businesses and farms. There are plenty across the produce section at your local Kroger.
  4. Mitigate food waste.
    Worried about your fresh produce going bad before you eat it? Go for products that have a longer shelf life to avoid wasting food. Some examples of products with a longer shelf life include: apples, carrots, beets, onions, potatoes, citrus, celery, winter squash, garlic, cabbage, and pomegranates. Also, be sure to store your produce properly to extend its shelf life. For more tips on how to prevent food waste, click here.
  5. Utilize your freezer.
    Don’t forget- you can freeze your produce before it goes bad. Here are some tips to help you freeze your produce properly.
    • Individual produce: Rinse the item and allow time to dry. Then place produce in a single layer on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer. Once frozen, store in an airtight, freezer-safe container.
    • Fresh herbs: Chop fresh herbs and place into ice cube trays. Top with olive oil, then freeze. Use later in sauces, soups, or sautéing.
    • Citrus: Slice lemons, oranges, or limes and place them into ice cube trays. Top with water and freeze. Add these citrusy ice cubes to your water or tea.
    • Cook extra: Make a large pot of vegetable stew, soup, or chili and freeze leftovers for later.
    • Pro tip: Remember to leave extra room in your containers when freezing items to allow room for expansion.

Kristen Keen, MBA, RD, LDN

Kristen Keen, MBA, RD, LDN

Kristen believes having a strong relationship with nutrition is key to having a healthy life and that relationship should center around the power of self-love!