Inspire Others

Photo by nrd on Unsplash

by Harriet

When I had my traumatic brain injury (TBI) I really struggled with shopping. It was such an every day thing that I always managed without thinking about it before my injury so it took me a while to work out how best to tackle it. My memory was so bad that I couldn’t remember what I was going to buy and ended up just chucking stuff in the trolley and coming out with nothing that I could make a meal out of! With 4 children in the house it became a problem really quickly!

There was one time it took me 5 trips to the supermarket to get all the ingredients for a Greek salad – which only has 6 ingredients in it!

With my TBI I have difficulties thinking straight in supermarkets, I get dizzy in the aisles and if there’s lots of people I start to panic and need to get out really quickly. I then struggle to process what I am in there for, specifically, and just either buy a load of stuff in the hope it works or forget to buy what I went there for.

So here are my tips for shopping and I use this method all the time now, every time.

  1. Go to the same supermarket each time if you can.
  2. Find a time that the supermarket isn’t as busy and go at that time each week if possible. I find that the more people there are in the shop the less I can think clearly and I also can’t read my list properly when it is too ‘peopley’.
  3. Before going shopping make a list:
I make a menu for what we are going to eat each night for the week. I always make it on a Sunday and shop on a Monday morning when the shops are quiet.
When I decide each meal choice I check what I have in the fridge and what I will need to buy to be able to make it.
I then write under the menu what I need to buy for that meal, in the order that I will come across it in the shop. There are sections in my list for each aisle – baked goods, veg/fruits, meats, tined goods, dairy, and frozen.
Below that list is a list of things I need each week anyway, like squash or milk etc to make sure I don’t forget those too.

4. I use Apple Notes to make the list and I share it with my Other Half so he can add anything to the list if he finds we are running out of anything during the week

5. Apple notes can change your list into a tick list so you can check things off as you shop so you know where you are.

an example of Harrie’s shopping list made in the Apple notes app

This has worked really well for me for many years now and is fine until the dreaded aisle reshuffle! Supermarkets often decide to rotate the stocking of their shelves so that people see different products and make additional purchases. But when they do this it disorientates me hugely as I am reliant upon the aisle plan being as I planned. The tick list can help a bit but I really need to know it in order or I am all over the place.

I recently went to my supermarket and found that they had moved all the items closest to the entrance and it threw me completely! When I asked why it had been done I was told that a new law had been passed that all items with more than a certain amount of sugar in them had to be a minimum of a 10 meters from the door so they had had to rearrange the aisles over night!

I’m presuming they had had warning but there was none for us customers and it took me longer to find the things I needed as some of the bits I would have picked up as I came in. Couscous wasn’t where I expected it to be! I’ve been in 3 or 4 times since and I still can’t remember what they have put in aisle one.

I will have to take a couple of photos when I next go to remind me when I want to make my next list, but this sort of things does throw me for several weeks thereafter.

Perhaps supermarkets could publish their proposed aisle changes in advance so its not a disorientating surprise? And perhaps they could give us information on where things have been moved to if they’ve moved them?