Shopping Strategies

Photo of an electric mobility shopping cart

One of the most energy-expending things I do on a semi-regular basis is shop for groceries. I enjoy a few aspects of grocery shopping, especially the part when I am almost done with it, but mostly it’s just a tremendous pain that forces me to confront my physical disabilities head on. I’m not tired all day after a big shopping trip, but I try really hard not to shop on a day when I have any other obligations.

Recently, I made three deliberate changes in how I lay in supplies for myself:

1. I order bulk goods online and have them shipped to my door. This works great for non-perishable foods I use a lot, physically large items, and very heavy items. For example: laundry and cleaning supplies, canned goods, cereal, snack chips, paper towels, toilet paper. I use, an online retailer that ships for free, and also which also offers free shipping when you have an Amazon Prime membership. It’s a little more expensive than going to Walmart or Costco, but it more than pays for itself in convenience and sheer physical accessibility.

2. I maintain a running shopping list using the Grocery IQ iPhone app, and I try to eat away at it with small trips for just a few items that can generally fit in one or two light bags I can carry from my car into my apartment in one trip. It’s usually easier on me to do several short shopping stops like this than one big trip. If I'm already going to be out for something else, might stop and get just bacon and bread, checking those off my list and making it that much smaller for my next real shopping trip.

3. When I do have to do a very large single-trip shopping, I try to arrange it so a friend or paid aide will be available to help me carry all the groceries from my car into my apartment. I use the electric cart at my local big supermarket, so the actual browsing and choosing products doesn’t bother me that much. It’s the getting there, parking, walking in, getting out, and especially the car-to-apartment trip and putting stuff away that’s the real killer. A bit of help with that once a month is a nice thing, and even a good investment if you have to pay someone for it.

These steps accomplish two things. First, It makes shopping easier for me, less draining, more accessible. Second, and even more important, because these strategies make shopping easier, I am much less likely to procrastinate and go without important supplies. One thing about physical disabilities and chronic illness is that unfortunately, just not doing a thing is always a possibility. That’s certainly true for things we’d like to do, but also for things that, strictly speaking, we really have to do. And shopping is one of those things I have always found it relatively easy to put off, or do in a half-assed way that feels better in the moment, but is bad for me in the long run.

That’s why it feels remarkably great to have these strategies that have made shopping, to me, a much more feasible and even satisfying chore. It’s never too late to learn to adult, and to adapt.