WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Staples out of stock? Try these other ways to get meat, produce, milk, eggs

Posted April 18, 2020 9:44 a.m. EDT
Updated April 20, 2020 10:39 p.m. EDT

Groceries in cart

With the recent shortages of staple grocery items and non-food essentials, shoppers are finding it difficult to buy these products through grocery store online pick-up and delivery services. Some stores are just not making them eligible for ordering.

One of our WRAL Smart Shopper readers sent an e-mail today with this question: "I appreciate grocery and big box stores offering pick up services, but most of what I need is not eligible for delivery or pickup, just "in-store" purchase only: bread, eggs, milk. So I'm forced to go inside anyway. Having key items ineligible for pickup defeats the goal of social distancing, or makes it a lot harder anyway. Why aren't these items eligible for pickup?"

Those are excellent points and a great question!

The reason that some stores are not allowing online ordering of certain items is because their stock has been so low or inconsistent that they don't know when when they will have them in the store. In addition, some stores do not have refrigeration and freezer space for online orders, including some big box stores. They cannot store the perishables once they have been pulled from the floor before you come to pick up your order.

Unfortunately, for the next few weeks, it is not going to be easy to get all the groceries we normally can without taking the risk of going in to the stores. Even then, those products may not be available.

For me, it's not worth the risk so I am not going in to stores and instead, I am making meals with what I can get online or through a relative who works in a local grocery store (and does not live with me) and is willing to drop off products for me when she can.

If you need any convincing to stay out of stores right now, check out the 2 articles below regarding the distance a sneeze or cough can travel and how that looks when you are in the grocery store. Hint: The droplets carry over to multiple additional aisles!

If you are still going to stores, keep in mind that a new executive order from Gov. Cooper with tougher guidelines for social distancing for retailers during the coronavirus outbreak will go into effect Monday, April 13, at 5 p.m. Among other things, it will limit the number of customers inside at any one time to 20 percent of allowed capacity under fire regulations, or five people per 1,000 square feet.

Read on for some ways to find those elusive products including eggs, milk, bread, paper products and more with out having to go in to the store.

Try a Different Store

Many stores are still offering the option to order the most popular items and will ask to make substitutions if they are out of the specific brand or variety you requested. For the time being, many items in an online order will need to be substituted so be prepared to try some new brands. If the store you usually order from is not accepting new online orders any time soon or is consistently out of many items, try a different store you may not have used before to see if you can get a delivery or pick-up time that is sooner.

Ask Your Shopper To Add The Items

If you are ordering online, once the personal shopper begins to fill your order, you should get a notice. Often times the shopper will text you to let you know about substitutions they have to make.

I suggest texting the person back and asking if they will please look for the bread, eggs or milk that you could not order online and ask them to add them to your order if they are in stock. Some stores will allow you to add additional products to your order.

Buy Groceries from Restaurants & Bakeries

If you are ordering delivery or curbside pick-up from any local restaurants or bakeries, ask if they have any grocery items for sale like bread, meat, milk, flour, sugar, butter, eggs, toilet paper, etc. Many are offering that additional service right now, even if you are not ordering a meal.

Multiple chain restaurants have announced that some locations will have grocery items available to order including Ko-an in Cary, Firebirds, Moe's, Panera, Ruby Tuesday, Subway, Texas Roadhouse, Potbelly Sandwich Shop, California Pizza Kitchen and more.

Check on their website or call your local restaurant to see what they are offering.

Order Produce or Meat Online From Local Farms

Produce Stands: Many local produce stands will allow you to order online and they will bring it out to your car when you drive up. Some will even allow you to pay online for touch-less checkout.

See a fantastic resource for North Carolina produce stands HERE. You can pick the county you live in and see all the stands available. You can even sort by the type of stand and if they offer organic produce. If the stand has a Facebook page, see if they offer online ordering/payment and curbside pick-up or delivery so you do not even have to get out of your car.

Local Produce Boxes: There are a number of local companies offering produce boxes with many NC grown products. With most boxes, you sign up for a specific size produce box and then they either deliver the fresh fruits and vegetables to your house or you pick them up from a set location on specific days and times. See a list of local options from the WRAL Out & About article HERE.

Misfits Market is a resource for "sometimes funny-looking" organic produce. They are temporarily pausing first-time orders and have set up a waitlist to accept new subscribers when possible. See the details on their website.

Because of the high demand right now due to social distancing, you will find that some produce box services are pausing sign-ups for new members. You can get on the waiting list of many of them though if a slot opens up.

Local Farms Selling Meat to Consumers: To help address the increased demand for meat and higher prices due to Covid-19, NC Choices, a program of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems and NC Cooperative Extension, launched MeatSuite.com. Through the MeatSuite.com website, consumers can find nearby local farms selling pasture-raised meat in bulk quantities.

You can even get fresh fruit delivered from Edible Arrangements. They are now offering delivery of fresh fruit boxes in various size boxes. See the details on their website.

Buy Chicken from a Chicken Truck Sale

Various chicken producers are offering truck sales all over the Triangle and surrounding areas and they are usually excellent deals. The chicken is often sold in 40 lb boxes for rock bottom prices.

House of Raeford is the producer offering the greatest number of sales each week. See their Facebook page for the schedule each week.

Carlie C's has also been hosting House of Raeford chicken sales and you can see the details on their Facebook page.

Shop at a Restaurant Wholesaler

A local restaurant grocery wholesaler in Morrisville is now selling directly to public. Restaurant Depot has locations nationwide including three in North Carolina in Cary, Charlotte and Greensboro.

They are temporarily open to the public and customers can shop with a day pass. You will receive the pass at the door when you present your driver's license. Spots are limited to the public each day and they suggest that you go early in the day before they exceed their limit. They are accepting all major credit cards and cash. No checks are accepted and no returns are being taken on products purchased during the COVID pandemic. See the details HERE.

Add Grocery And Drug Store Items to Your Pharmacy Delivery Order with Free Shipping

Pharmacies and drug stores throughout the Triangle are offering free delivery to help everyone, especially seniors and those who are most at-risk, reduce contact during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many of these drug stores are also delivering products from their drug store for free in addition to medications from the pharmacy.

If you are picking up your prescription in the drive-thru window at a pharmacy, many locations will get limited groceries and non-food essentials from the store that you can pay for at the drive-thru without having to go in to the store.

CLICK HERE for a list of many pharmacies offering free delivery of prescriptions and other drug store items and groceries in the Triangle area.

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