Bread, milk and salty snacks

January 31, 2019

La PORTE COUNTY – Got milk, eggs, bread? Those are the hot items residents have been stocking up on during the big freeze.

“We’ve always seen patterns where the customers stock up on the staples,” said Alexis Pontius-Buell, vice president of Lakeshore Foods Corp., which operates the Al’s Supermarkets in Michigan City and La Porte, and Barney’s Supermarket in New Buffalo.

“We try to make sure we’re well stocked.”

But that’s not all shoppers are in need of with the frigid temps continuing.

“We imagine in this weather it might also be shovels, sidewalk salt and windshield wiper fluid,” said Pontius-Buell, adding that the latter is “one of those bad ones. If you’re out of it, you’re stuck.”

Snack items and drinks, as well as beer and wine, are also top choices.

Meijer Public Relations Manager Christina Fecher said, “We tend to see consumers purchasing staples like bread, milk and eggs at this time. But also salty snacks and beverages when they’re hunkering down.”

At ALDI, “We typically see people stock up on everyday grocery essentials and fresh produce leading up to major winter weather – items like milk, eggs, berries and bottled water are top sellers,” according to a company spokeswoman.

“Families with little ones may also want to consider stocking up on baby essentials, like diapers...”

Pontius-Buell said Lakeshore locations hadn’t seen a significant rush in their groceries until Tuesday.

“People weren’t really planning on it over the weekend,” she said.

ALDI saw a big increase in customers leading up to Wednesday, the spokeswoman said.

The safety of employees is also a high priority for the company and the reason why they reduced hours on Wednesday, closing at 4 p.m. Customers can find the most updated hours on the Facebook page, “Al’s Supermarkets.”

“It’s about preparing for customers and preparing for getting your employees home safely,” she said.

The ALDI spokeswoman agreed, saying “Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our employees, our customers and the communities in which we live and work. As long as it is safe to do so, ALDI will keep as many stores as possible open and operating in the impacted area.”

In anticipation of more store traffic, Lakeshore Foods brings in more employees to man cash registers, re-stock food and other responsibilities.

“We try to schedule for a little bit of a sales increase,” Pontius-Buell said.

And, realizing that fewer customers will be out when the weather worsens, the company schedules fewer employees during those times.

If customers find empty shelves in local groceries, it may very well be because the weather restricted deliveries. For example, the only delivery Lakeshore Foods is expecting today is for produce.

“We would be expecting several deliveries, but they’ve been canceled. We need to do the best with what we have,” Pontius-Buell said.

“Keep in mind with nothing to do, you tend to snack more,” she said.

And with area students off school and completing eLearning days from home until Friday, it’s also a good idea to pick up extras to feed hungry kids, she said.

When planning meals in anticipation of bad weather, Pontius-Buell said, “I always think of pasta. With all the varieties, you can make it interesting. It’s a good family-friendly meal.”

Gemini Fox of Chesterton is one shopper who stocks up on pasta too.

“And soups and chili are also fantastic, especially at this time of year,” he added. “If a major storm is coming in, shopping a few days before is always preferred, as you can miss the crowds and the weather if you shop early enough.”

Pontius-Buell agreed with Fox’s soup suggestion: “You can empty out your refrigerator and freezer. You can use up your veggies and come up with something healthy.”

Besides soup, Michigan City resident Sue Prybylla listed eggs, bread, butter and cheese as staples she stocks up on before a storm.

For Tracy Zorick, also of Michigan City, she makes sure she has plenty of lunchmeat and bread on hand in case the power goes out, and eggs because of their versatility.

“We get milk and always have big water jugs on hand, too,” she added.

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