Thanks to a special someone out there who took pity on me and my pandemic food shopping in a brand new neighbourhood in Toronto situation, I was gifted with a Quik Cart. I am so grateful and you are about to see why!
I have had a “granny cart” in the past but it was a nightmare for my hands, shoulder and back. Ever since then I have carried heavy groceries in a backpack.
This cart is so light I decided to try once again, especially since getting groceries these days is so bloody challenging.
It collapses so I can store it under my bed after it has been decontaminated. The best part is it has a lid so I can sit on it and safely rest when I am out, since you have not been “allowed” to sit on benches in Toronto for a while now.
My first test? Taking it out to Shoppers Drug Mart. Last time when I shopped at Loblaws via PC Express I was not very happy with the produce so I wanted to see how much my closest Shoppers had so I could still get points. This way I could avoid a giant store with lots of people and pick out my own produce.
First Adventure: Shoppers Drug Mart
Getting down the stairs was a piece of cake. It would be getting back up with a bunch of food that would be the challenge.
I have to say that going for one of my first walks through my new neighbourhood on my own was downright surreal. It felt like I was in some post apocalyptic movie.
The cart did very well on the way there. Noisy and the lid kept skewing but my hands, shoulder and back were OK. What a relief!
I went into the store and did not buy as much as I wanted but got some food I really needed.
It was quite a long walk so I was very grateful that I could sit and rest.
The cart did not complain about my body weight!
“Oh boy, here we go,” I thought as I took this photo!
I had to use both hands but the wheels went over the stairs quite easily!
The cats found it all fascinating and it was not a big deal. Yay!
I got some very basic produce and some of my favourite products.
I was most excited to get legumes!!! They have NOT been easy to find!
Second Adventure: Loblaws
I had not gotten any food in over two weeks. This was the big test for the cart and to see if I could get home without paying for an Uber and adding additional risks to my health and potential contamination.
I filled up the cart and my backpack and yes, that is a lemon cake mix! My Auntie Laima had shared a recipe with me and I so wanted to make it. Sadly Loblaws was out of almond extract!
I geared up and got ready to walk that long and heavy walk, plus going up that flight of stairs!
I did it!!! Was it easy? No. Was it worth it? Hell ya!
And check it out, this time I got a TON of meat and seafood!!!
And so many of my favourite President’s Choice products! Stocking up on my favourites has been a huge challenge for me. Starting a pantry over is never easy or cheap.
The Best Part
Not only was that awesome but this sweet letter from my shopper Umesh totally made my day! My sisters had recommended I not only say yes to substitutions but to also add very specific information about what is accepted: equal or lesser value to, any ground beef of that price or less…
I added anything I could think of so it would be easier for them to find me what I was looking for. Not only did it pay off for me, it helped Umesh! Which totally rocks. So please feel free to add intel too!
Adventure Number 3, 4, 5…
I have heard so much about Nosso Talho butcher shop since I moved. They had recently been in the news because they offered free food to people who could not afford it. I knew I had to go support them myself and check out their place which I had heard sells a lot more than meat. Which I was counting on because I still needed almond extract and had just bought a TON of meat.
Sure enough, the lineup for the shop went around the corner and down the street where people physically distanced, patiently waiting their turn.
It felt crazy to not buy meat when I was in there because it all looked so good but I needed produce, almond extract and the ever elusive toilet paper.
They had every kind of extract, including pineapple and banana, but no almond damn it!
They did have something I had just about given up searching for… seafood bouillon! Not only that but Knorr seafood bouillon! The foodie Cadillac! The last time I enjoyed that in my cooking my mom bought it for me from Chinatown. That is a long time ago now.
Yes, that is Prego on my conveyer belt! Prego is one of my first food loves, long before I became a foodie. I have missed it dearly. Have not been able to find it in over a year. I can not wait to make spaghetti!
It is kind of hard to tell what is going on around me. Is it because of the pandemic? Gentrification…??? But there is a feeling of being lost and discarded out there. The man in the lineup behind me so wanted to talk to me but with the noise of Bloor right behind me and his mask on, I could not understand what he was saying.
I walked into a dollar store that was so cramped and nobody moved so I could not even get in it and had to turn around and leave ASAP.
Life is very, very odd right now.
I finally found some almond extract (fake) and toilet paper at a flower shop/convenience store where I also picked up some produce. It was raining at this point and I was totally done. Three days of hunting for food and I was exhausted.
Next Adventure? Give Me Drugs!
One issue I had not taken into account is how difficult medications and supplements would be to get. I have only been able to get pills here and there so I have to continually go back to the store.
Thankfully my No Frills has a separate spot for picking up pills because if I had to wait in this line every other day???!!! It actually bent and wrapped around the parking lot. Longest one I have ever seen!
Family To The Rescue
When Auntie Laima heard that I could only get imitation almond extract I think that inspired her and Uncle Meinhard to bring me another care package which came today.
Not only did they bring me real almond extract, clear corn syrup, almonds (due to another foodie fail), sewing supplies… She gave me her creme brulee kit!!
Greta whole heartedly approved.
Leave it to Latvian family to understand the importance of having dill. Something I have not been able to find anywhere I have been and I have been to many places in the last week.
It has been one hell of a week. Honestly, finding food has became a full time job and I am exhausted. I am so happy with my amazing new Quik Cart which made shopping so much easier and accessible, I would have had to Uber home many times without it. I am grateful to all the stores and my family for their wisdom, help and generosity.
It has been so hard physically to get it home and clean everything and, well, life is kind of weird out there. But, I have food. Lots and lots of food again and toys to play with too!
Please feel free to share your adventures in pandemic shopping! Am I alone in this experience? Has it been harder for you? Does the world feel stranger? How are you doing?