We’ve begun our third week of isolation. Our state, Oregon, has done well on containment. As of today, we stand at 538 confirmed cases and 8 fatalities. No fatalities have been reported in my city, Ashland. Nineteen cases are reported for Ashland. Our city hospital been set up as a COVID-19 county treatment center for mild to moderate cases.
The first two weeks of being sequestered at home, we cleaned, inventorying supplies on hand and reviewing recipe and meal ideas.
(Okay, when I say, ‘we’, I’m using the couple we. My wife has done 99.9% of this. My input has been almost negligible.)
My wife suggested first in, first out eating practices. The oldest stuff should be consumed first, if we agree it seems edible.
I countered: we want to use our fresh produce so that it doesn’t go to waste.
A compromise was agreed: FIFO would be employed one day, and a fresh meal the next. Whenever we do a FIFO meal, we’d add fresh produce, if it made sense. Smoothies would be consumed each day.
It’s been going well. We were well-supplied with staples. My partner baked. A can of old pumpkin was sacrificed (along with old cream cheese and an extra sweet potato) to make a pumpkin roll and pumpkin muffins. A quarter was consumed; the rest were frozen for future eating.
She slices and freezes bananas that become overly ripe (they’re used in smoothies). But when we’d had a large supply of them established, she made us banana-pecan muffins. Again, a few were consumed, but most were frozen.
Vegan split-pea soup followed, then roasted vegetable soup. Each lasted us several days.
Along the way, we’d been eating salads, which is our long-established habit. As COVID-19 practices and projections took shape, we began thinking in longer terms. While grocery stores have taken precautions and special hours set aside for people like us (over sixty years old), they also report supply chain issues. My wife has RA and is considered vulnerable. She didn’t want us going out if we could avoid it. But more supplies were needed.
I created an Instacart account and explored it. Instacart supports four chains in our area: Safeway, Albertson’s, Fred Meyers, and Costco.
Costco! That’s our go-to place.
First I logged into Costo.com to check supplies. Out. Out. Out. Out.
I figured that resupplies would eventually arrive. I made it a daily practice to check. Finally, on Friday, bingo, several items that we wanted were now available. We also wanted fresh produce, for example, romaine, blueberries, bananas, celery, potatoes. Ah, that was available, but only if we shifted the order to Instacart.
Prices were compared. One, shopping groceries online with Costco is more expensive than shopping at the warehouse. Kind of expected, and they weren’t gouging us. Two, prices with Instacart were just a little more. Three, you tip your Instacart shopper.
Okay. We discussed it. Seeing that our supplies were going down, that cases in Ashland were going up, that the whole situation was unstable and uncertain, we put an Instacart order in last Friday.
The process itself was simple and well-organized. In fact, I consider it one of the better online shopping experiences that I’ve gone through. I was never confused about what was happening. They would tell us immediately if an item wasn’t available in our zip code. With some items, such as eggs, they warned us that they were in short supply, and brought up options. Cool.
Next were delivery instructions. Well, we didn’t want to break them directly into the house. We couldn’t leave them outside, either. I came up with an option: move one of the cars out of the garage and set up a table in there. When they were in route, we’d open the garage. They’d put the stuff in there.
The garage usually runs 48 – 52 degrees F at this time of year. We were only ordering one frozen item and a few refrigerated items. We’d put ice on those things and let everything stay out there overnight. Then, we’d clean it off and put it away.
Once the plan was established, we entered those instructions into our order and selected a delivery time. Delivery times were two hour windows on Saturday. They began at 2 PM. Well, we weren’t going anywhere… We selected two to four PM.
The order was received and processed within minutes. The system told us that we could change it, removing or adding things, until shopping was underway. After considering it overnight, we decided some of the stuff we’d ordered was too much, and removed them.
Next came our first ‘issue’, and it as small one. Our delivery window was moved to Sunday morning, 11 AM. Bummer. We were looking forward to it coming on Saturday. With little else to do, we were sort of focused on that happening. Oh, well, though.
Time passed. On a whim, I checked on the order.
Gadzooks! It was on the way. According to the email, it’d be arriving in about ten minutes.
Scramble, scramble, scramble! We were dressed, but had to follow up on our receiving plan. That done, a few minutes later, the delivery arrived.
Alicia P was our shopper and delivery person. She had an assistant with her (he was driving, citing the changing weather conditions as his reason for being). Everything went off without a hitch. Only one item didn’t make it: pasta. We have some pasta. I’ll do another order for Albertson’s via Instacart this week to see if that can be ordered.
Instacart recommended a five percent tip, which worked out to just under nine dollars. I upped it to fifteen. I figured Alicia P deserved it, and it was cheap at that. I acknowledge, yeah, we’re lucky. We have the financial wherewithal to do this, a Costco is in range, and people like Alicia P are willing to work for Instagram under these conditions. And, yes, part of my reason for pushing my wife to do an order on Friday night was that Instacart drivers were talking about striking on Monday, 3/30. The other reason was that stuff was at Costco, but how much longer would it be there?
So, we’re set again.
I slipped outside for a few minutes, taking out the recycle and getting the mail. We decided we’d pick up the mail every Sunday morning.
It was balmy and drizzly, a lovely day for a walk, except for the hidden killer that could be lurking in the air. Sadly, I returned to the house via the garage and followed sanitizing precautions.
Hope you’re all doing well out there in webland. Good luck, and stay well.