Sep 18, 2013 0 Share

Learning to Shop

Young man choosing apples in grocery store.

For many years when my family has taken shopping trips, my primary responsibility has been to push the shopping cart. In recent days, however, I have also taken on the task of learning to shop for myself, including my own groceries. I have spent years going with my parents into all kinds of different stores, but now, with their help, I am learning the finer details of this very important life skill.   

My mom has found a website where I can create my own shopping list, and has helped me to figure out how to compile the needed items on my list. First, I look through the refrigerator and cupboards to see what I have in supplies and then dispose of any items that are spoiled or past their expiration date. I then go to the website and make my shopping list, checking off all of the items that I need. I like using this system because it has an array of basic food and household items and space to add more detailed information as needed. I can quickly look through the list and find the items I need for a particular shopping trip. Once I am finished making my list, I then look through my family’s coupons and match any to my list, always checking their expiration dates. With my list, coupons, money, and wallet in tow, I then head off to the stores with my parents to shop.     

Even though I know my way around the stores my family frequents fairly well, I was surprised to find that when I first tried shopping independently, my anxiety level increased, and I became agitated in the store. One issue that I immediately noticed was that I got confused about how I was going to hold my list and push the cart at the same time. I then started to shut down and my mother had to step in to calm me down. She explained that I could set my list down as I pushed the cart and then pick it back up when I reached the item I was looking for. I think the added pressure of knowing that I was expected to find and retrieve everything on my own and still push the shopping cart overwhelmed me a bit. My mother also has started to teach me how to check the food items for spoilage as I shop. Having to do this added task threw me as well, probably adding to my urge to shut down.

Another detail that bothers me is that sometimes a store’s layout changes between my shopping trips, and I have to figure out where everything is again. This is can be compounded by the reality that sometimes my desired food item is not available either because the grocery truck has not arrived yet or the store no longer stocks it. At times the item is there, but is of such poor quality or spoiled that it is not worth the investment. As I have noted in previous columns, I like static or relatively stable environments best, so going to a store that has changes in its layout and contents does little to ease my mind. My mom and I have been working on some strategies to help me to cope with these conditions. I can find items more easily by paying attention to the signs over the aisles. If I still cannot find an item, I can ask for help from someone at the Customer Service desk. Also, if an item I want is missing or in a sorry condition, then I can always go to a different store to shop for it. I know that my parents have done this in the past as well. I think if I remember these little tips, it will help me immensely on future shopping excursions. 

The one step in the shopping process that I am very comfortable with is going through the cashier station. I have helped my parents put the items on the conveyor belt for many years, and I have paid for my own items such as a magazine or book for many years as well. I know to have my money ready, wait for my change, and secure my receipt in case I need it later. I do have to work on putting everything away when I get home though. Other than the few magazines, books, or DVDs that I buy on my own, my mother usually handles the task of putting our groceries away, but I soon will be adding this step to complete my shopping process.    

I have only been using my own shopping list for a short time, but I am starting to learn more about what I can do to help make my shopping trips easier and less stressful. I know that one day, with practice and helping hands from my parents, I will be able to handle all of my shopping needs on my own.