How to Grocery Shop While Sheltering in Place

Farmers market veggies

California’s COVID-19 infection rate continues to tick up, but you still need to eat. Staying safe while you shop is more important than ever. Grocery stores have adjusted hours and are enforcing social distancing in a bid to stay open and keep customers safe. Here is what you need to know now.

As before, some items and supplies go out of stock quickly and most stores and services are understaffed to handle the pressing demands of house-bound customers.

Stores are receiving regular deliveries of produce, meat, baking goods, and dry goods. For items such as paper towels and toilet paper, quantities are being limited at most stores to one package per person per visit. Plexiglass shields now protect cashiers at some stores and aisles are marked for single-direction shopping to limit shopper interactions.  To limit your exposure and adhere to the shelter-in-place order, shop with a big list and a two-week plan.

This list is by no means complete and changes are occurring faster than we can keep up with them. Please contact the business directly via their websites or social pages to ensure they meet your needs and please send us updates to us if you have them (please share news, especially about your favorite local store, if it is not already included here).

New Bag Policy

While the CDC maintains that there remains no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted via food, there remains uncertainty around transmission via packaging. San Francisco recently banned reusable shopping bags as part of on-going efforts to curb the spread of the disease. In Marin, stores are asking customers who do bring their own bags to do their own bagging in an effort to protect staff or asking that you use their bags (paper bags are widely available). If you do bring and use your own bags when shopping, please ensure they were sanitized or otherwise thoroughly cleaned between uses to help prevent spread of the novel coronavirus.

Safest Time to Shop vs. Best Time to Find Stocked Shelves (i.e. Toilet Paper and Flour)

Consumer Reports also suggests shopping when the store is quietest, usually during dinner hour (6–7 pm in Marin) but often during the store’s later hours, and wearing a face covering when you do. Larger chain stores use overnight hours to clean so morning hours there are usually cleanest there (independent stores clean throughout the day). Mornings are also the most likely time to find stocked shelves as deliveries arrive in the early morning hours at most stores. However, lines can be long during these times so expect to wait outside for an hour or more before entering the store.

How to Buy Groceries During a Shelter In Place Order:

Direct from Farmers

Many ranchers and farmers sell direct, meaning no need to go out. The Marin Agricultural Land Trust compiled a list of shelter-in-place food suppliers here. Please keep in mind that delays in shipping are the new normal.

Farmer’s Markets

Per the order for “shelter in place” as of March 16, certified farmer’s markets may continue operating as essential services.

A health and safety protocol is in place for all AIM markets that includes sanitizing equipment and frequently touched areas. Hand washing stations and hand sanitizers available. Stands have been placed six feet apart, shields are in place to prevent customers touching or handling food, and marks on the ground indicate safe social distance while waiting your turn. All food must be purchased “to go” and shoppers must maintain social distancing (at least 6 feet).

Please visit the AIM website for the most current updates.

Marin Community Farmer’s Markets runs the open-air markets in Corte Madera Town Center (Wednesdays, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.), and in the CVS parking lot in Mill Valley (Fridays, 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.).

The Larkspur Farmer’s Market at Marin Country Mart runs on Saturdays from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Other local shops:

Andy’s Local Market

Open. No self-service at food bar and deliveries arriving on a regular schedule.

Sun Valley, San Rafael 7 am – 8 pm

Loch Lomond, San Rafael 6:30 am – 8 pm

Corte Madera 7 am – 8 pm

Driver’s Market

We are taking extreme care, from sanitizing to social distancing, offering curb-side pick up, and limiting the number of shoppers.

Beginning March 25, we will reserve the 9-10 am shopping hour for our senior and immuno-compromised customers. We are prioritizing health and safety over every other function of our store.

Note our new store hours: 9 a.m to 8 p.m.

Good Earth Natural Foods

Current store hours in Mill Valley and Fairfax are 10 am – 9 pm. Self-serve items are currently not available. Only 40 customers are being permitted in-store at any given time.

When shopping at Good Earth, please do the following:

– Maintain a social distance of 6 ft as much as practically possible

– Please help us limit the number of people in the store by shopping alone when you can

– Please save your shopping until after 10:00 am if you are not over 60, immunocompromised, or pregnant. We are reserving the hour of 9-10 am for our most vulnerable communities. 

We are limiting the number of customers shopping our stores to 40 at one time. Beginning March 24, we will have staff actively working our doors to support this, and you may be asked to wait in line if there are already 40 shoppers in the store.

Inverness Park Market

Kitchen open for takeout or order directly from the deli, 8 am –6 pm. Please call to order; curbside pickup available.

Wednesday sushi takeout menu available, Wednesdays only starting at 4 pm.

Marinwood Market

Effective Sunday 3/22 the Deli & Meat Dept. will close at 6:00 pm, the Store will close at 7:00 pm.

In regard to senior shopping, 7:00am-8:00am is typically very quiet for seniors to shop.

If you would like to email/call in an order, we can have it ready for you to pick up. Email [email protected].

Mill Valley Market

Revised store hours, as of April 6 

Mon/Tues/Thurs/Sat: 7:00 am – 7:30 pm

Weds/Fri: 9 am – 7:30 pm

Sunday: Closed

Delivery provided via Instacart. Orders accepted via email at: [email protected] with your name, phone number, and a detailed list of what you would like, then specify delivery or pick-up. Orders may be delayed once staff capacity per day is reached. Hand-washing station out front and social distancing enforced in-store. Please do not bring your own bags and use the sanitized carts and baskets provided for shopping.

Mollie Stone’s

In conjunction with InstaCart, delivery provided in normal times within a 2-hour window but currently experiencing significant delays. Expect to wait a week or more for delivery. A 14-day trial period is available before a monthly service fee kicks in. Though there is a fee for orders of less than $35, no upfront payment required.

Open food/open food bar areas are now all in pre-packs.

Special shopping hours for those 60+ and immunocompromised: Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 7-8 a.m.

Coffee bar hours are now 7 am – 4 pm.

Regular store hours are now 8 am – 8 pm.

Nugget Market

Corte Madera and Novato 7 am – 9 pm.

Tuesday and Thursday mornings from store opening to 8 a.m. are temporarily designated as shopping hours specifically for our guests ages 65+ and those guests who are at-risk due to health conditions.

Please be mindful of those in need and reserve this time for our senior citizens and other at-risk members of our community.

Palace Market

Hours are currently unchanged: Sunday – Thursday 8 am – 8 pm, Friday and Saturday 8 am – 9 pm. If you need assistance due to self-quarantine please call us & we will do our best to help.


Daily 6 am – 10 pm; senior hours are Tuesdays/Thursdays from 6–9 am. Home deliveries experiencing significant delays.

Scotty’s Market

Open 7 am – 9 pm

Trader Joe’s

San Rafael and Larkspur store hours 9 am – 7 pm until further notice. Staff posted at door to help wipe cart handles and squirt sanitizer if you do not bring gloves. Separate line for seniors.

United Markets

Only 50 customers permitted in store at a time. Plexiglass screens at registers, one-way aisles. Sanitizing wipes at store entrances. Self-serve salad bar converted to pre-packed salad bar. Hot bar moved behind the glass deli counter.

Extended home delivery and grocery pick-up service at United to Go.

Special senior (60+) and immunocompromised community shopping hours daily from 7:30-8:30 am.

Store hours for all in San Rafael and San Anselmo 8:30 am – 9 pm.

Whole Foods

Adjusted hours:

Mon – Sat: 8:00 am – 8 pm

Sunday: 8:00 am – 8 pm

Delivery provided within a 2-hour window and is available to Prime members.

Only immuno-compromised and customers 60+ from 8–9 am. Staff person at the door to squirt your hands with sanitizer and wipe down cart handles, enforce social distancing, and manage any line. 

Woodlands Market

From Friday, March 27, the first open hour of the day, 7–8 am on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays is dedicated to immunocompromised and 65+ customers.  Close daily at 9 pm.

Delivery only:

Good Eggs

Headquartered in San Francisco, this delivery-only service brings the local farms to you with local produce, eggs, meat, milk and many other products. Like other retailers, Good Eggs has strict sanitation protocols and has taken additional steps to keep everything clean in response to COVID-19. Their app is experiencing loading issues so please use the website to order. Delivery windows may be sold out but not items. If an item appears to be sold out, please select a different delivery window to try again.


Other essential businesses, including Target (Marin City 7–8 am; San Rafael 8–9 am) and Costco (8–9 am on Tuesdays and Thursdays), are providing separate time windows for seniors, often first thing in the morning. These stores, along with Pharmaca, CVS and Walgreens, are restocking food and cleaning and paper supplies as well. Please contact the business in question to confirm their most current hours and delivery options.


Christina MuellerChristina Mueller is a long-time Bay Area food writer. She hails from the East Coast and has spent way too much time in South America and Europe. She discovered her talent as a wordsmith in college and her love of all things epicurean in grad school. She has written for Condé Nast Contract PublishingSunset, and the Marin Independent Journal, among others. She volunteers with California State Parks and at her child’s school, and supports the Marin Audubon SocietyPEN America, and Planned Parenthood. When she is not drinking wine by a fire, she is known to spend time with her extended family.