Guest Author - Dean Ingalls
I often here my sister say how much she hates grocery shopping. Usually, I think to myself she has no idea just how much of a challenge buying groceries can be especially when you are dealing with a disability. I am very stubborn and try to stay as independent as possible. I challenge myself to do many of my errands instead of asking a sighted person. Learning to complete the task of grocery shopping was a challenge in organization and preparation.
Over the years, I have developed a successful plan for grocery shopping. I start with the shopping list. You would think making the shopping list would be easy but I found out after several frustrating trips to the grocery store that writing a list of items on a sheet of paper doesnít work well. I discovered most of the employees didnít know where items were located. I would spend most of the time being led back and forth around the store. I became determined to design a shopping list eliminating what seemed like an endless search for items on the list. I decided to design a shopping list according to the layout of the store. I shop at a County Market near my apartment building. I have designed a route from my home to the store. I also have purchased a shopping cart of appropriate size for carrying my purchases home. Next, I went with my neighbor and we surveyed the layout of the store. We broke the store into six sections. As we went around the store, I recorded the types of items located in each section. After, touring the store I organized the information in a file and saved it on my computer. Using my information, I construct my shopping list. I list the items on my shopping list in the order they appear in the sections of the store. For example, I know from my survey that the first section we encounter when entering the store is the produce section. Therefore, the first items on my shopping list are fruits and vegetables. The next section of the store is a section consisting of six lanes. I listed in the survey a sample of the types of items on each lane. For example, I know lane one contains items such as canned soup, condiments, pickles and other canned items. Using this information, I list the next items on my shopping list. After going down the first six lanes, the next section encountered is the deli and meats section and thatís what appears next on the shopping list. By now, you probably get the idea of how I have designed my shopping list, so letís move on to the next part of the plan.
The next part of my plan was to take the time to meet and get to know the employees who work in the customer service department. Developing a working relationship with the store employees gave me the opportunity to discuss with them what I was trying to accomplish. Now whenever I enter the store most of the employees know what I need without asking. Usually a person who has helped me before is working and I am helped without much of a wait but even if there is no one working who knows me, because I have everything organized it only takes a few minutes to explain to them how I have everything constructed. If they work with me and understand my design, my shopping adventure goes very smoothly. The only problem I have encountered is when I purchase a new item. An item I have never purchased forces me to rely on the person helping me. After I purchase the item, I always add it into my original survey for future purchases. So far, the plan has worked well.
One of the reasons my shopping technique works well for me is I have shopped long enough to compile a list of foods and brand names that I like to eat. In addition, I tend to buy the same items on a weekly basis. I also plan my meals of breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the week before designing my shopping list.
I designed a shopping list allowing me to enter the front door of the store, work my way through the store ending at the checkout counter in an efficient and time saving manner. I am very pleased with the way my shopping plan has worked. I do not hate going grocery shopping but in fact, enjoy the adventure. I have developed some good friendships with my neighbors and the store workers who assist me. The trick to my success is good planning and detailed organization.