Here's the safest way to shop for Thanksgiving groceries this year

Grocery shopping is considered a relatively low-risk activity, but there are several ways to make it safer this holiday season.
Make a list in advance so that you know what you need and can avoid lingering in the aisles.
Make a list in advance so that you know what you need and can avoid lingering in the aisles.TODAY Illustration / Getty Images

Even smaller, modified Thanksgiving plans are likely to require some time spent grocery shopping - and while shopping is generally a low-risk activity, especially if masks are worn and social distancing is maintained, it can be worrying to have to spend time around so many strangers while getting the groceries you need.

Experts say there are a few different ways to stay safe while shopping.

Start by making sure you're doing everything you can to get in and out of the store quickly. Make a list in advance so that you know what you need and can avoid lingering in the aisles.

"I think the best strategy is to limit your time in the store as much as possible," Amanda J. Deering, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Food Science at Purdue University, told TODAY in March.

It can also help to go to a store during slower hours. Some states or stores may have rules designating a time for senior citizens or other high-risk individuals, so take advantage of those if you do qualify. According to a recent data analysis by Google Maps, grocery stores are the busiest on Saturdays between noon and 3:00 p.m., but the least busy time is 8:00 a.m. on Monday.

Avoid bringing too many people with you if you can, and make sure you're properly prepared with your mask and hand sanitizer so you can clean your hands after you've finished shopping.

When you are at the store, take basic precautions like wearing your mask and maintaining six feet of distance between yourself and other shoppers. Many grocery stores have created one-way aisles to avoid customers passing each other, so follow those signs and arrows as best you can.

Once you get home, you should immediately wash your hands with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds. While there is no evidence that the coronavirus can be transmitted through groceries and little concern about the virus spreading on surfaces, you should wash any produce with running water.

If you are especially concerned about contracting the virus, you could get your Thanksgiving dinner delivered, or use an online service like Instacart to have food dropped off at your home, but in general, grocery stores are considered relatively safe if precautions are taken.

"In general, places that sell food are hard-wired for sanitation and hygiene," Celine Beitchman, director of nutrition at the Institute of Culinary Education, told TODAY Food in March.