Quick: What’s your least favorite thing to do? If you’re like my ADHD clients, shopping for groceries is right up there, along with paying bills and doing laundry.
Supermarkets seem to be designed to play tricks on the ADD mind, with their eye-catching displays, seductive product packaging, and food choices too numerous to count. And all those “on sale” signs? They’re rocket fuel for impulsive types.
Other shoppers stroll up and down the aisles, placidly loading their carts and checking items off their lists. We ADDers stand there, frozen like, well, a box of frozen veggies: Should we go for the chopped or the julienne string beans?
In the end, we give up trying to decide — and buy both. What begins as a quick trip to pick up a few items turns into a half-day excursion that empties our wallets and leaves our pantries overstocked with food that spoils before it gets anywhere near our dinner tables.
Not long ago, my client Maggie R. stopped by the grocery store on her way home from work. Her intent was to buy detergent, fresh produce, milk, and English muffins. Two hours later, she left the store with a cart overflowing with groceries, plus an hibachi grill, charcoal, and lighter fluid. Oh, yes, all that and a lawn chair, complete with its own umbrella.
At this point, Maggie realized that she needed a better approach — and promptly came up with three rules:
Rule #1: Always eat before leaving the house. Maggie figured that if she weren’t hungry, she would be less tempted to buy snacks (or stock up for an impromptu cookout). Indeed, studies show that, on average, shoppers spend 17 percent less on groceries when they shop on a full stomach.
Rule #2: Shop at a specified time each week — no more random runs to the supermarket.
Rule #3: Shop with a written list, created after checking the contents of her pantry, refrigerator, and linen closet (where she stores cleaning supplies). Taking a pre-shopping inventory, she reasoned, would make it easier to tell what she needed to stock up on.
Maggie made a good start. But, as I explained to her, there are many more time-saving, headache-sparing, cost-cutting strategies that have worked wonders for my clients, and for me.
1. Post a shopping list on the fridge, and attach a pencil to it.
Ask everyone in the household to add items to the list, as necessary. An envelope taped beside your list makes it easy to collect coupons.
2. Bring along your shopping list, your coupons, and a pencil to cross things off your list as you go along.
Bring your cell phone, too — in case you need to ask someone at home whether a particular item is needed. Attach the store’s discount card to your key ring.
This article comes from the October/November 2006 issue of ADDitude.