Meal Planning

Grocery Shopping Is the Worst. Make It Better With These Tips.

An efficient shopping trip requires iron-clad planning, time-management, organization, and self-control skills. So is it any wonder that adults with ADHD hate the grocery store so much? These survival strategies can help.

A man who hates grocery shopping is speeding through it to get it over with.
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Save Money, Reduce Stress

Are supermarkets designed to stress us out? With confusing pricing, crowded aisles, and tempting displays, a seemingly simple weekly chore can turn quickly mind-boggling — especially for those of us with ADHD. Follow these tips to avoid impulse buys, stay within budget, and get in and out of the store as fast as possible. You'll never say, "I hate grocery shopping," again!

A woman with ADHD uses apps on her phone to make a shopping list so she doesn't hate grocery shopping as much.
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Tech It Up

The grocery shopping experience has taken a leap forward thanks to a handful of mobile apps with equal parts utility and ease. Try AnyList for easy-to-use list making — and sharing with friends or family, so anyone can add necessary items. If you’re into saving money, try Checkout 51 — it searches for coupons and deals near you, then reimburses you once you make the suggested purchase. No more clipping coupons!

An adult with ADHD writes a shopping list on the refrigerator, so she doesn't forget things and hate grocery shopping.
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Post Your Shopping List — With Pencil Attached

If you’re more into old-fashioned paper lists, post yours in a spot everyone will see it every day — like the fridge. If you run out of something — or you’re about to run out — write it on the list the moment you notice.

Confused woman with ADHD shopping in grocery store
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Know the Store

Shop at the same store every time. Your brain is memorizing the layout to help you find things easier each time; don't fight it. But if you still get frustrated trying to find the couscous, try Big Oven — it organizes your list according to the aisle-by-aisle layout of participating stores, so you never have to backtrack. Brilliant.

A woman with ADHD putting food in her cart at the supermarket while thinking, "I hate grocery shopping."
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Set a Specified Shopping Day

Avoid spur-of-the-moment trips by shopping at a scheduled time — once a week, every week. If crowds stress you out, try early in the morning or late at night on a weekday. If you’re too tired before or after work during the week, aim for a weekend day, preferably before soccer practice lets out.

Dad with ADHD in supermarket on phone
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Don't Shop Hungry

If your blood sugar is low, you’re more likely to make impulse buys. It’s best to go shopping after you’ve eaten — it’ll help keep frustration at bay, and you won’t buy things you don’t need just because they look tasty!

A mom with ADHD and her daughter hold an item on their list at the supermarket. With a list, she doesn't hate grocery shopping anymore.
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Buy Ahead of Time

For non-perishable items, like canned goods or toilet paper, buy a package or two ahead of when you’ll need it. If you have three toilet paper packages and you use one, buy another one right away, so you’ll always have three on hand. You’ll eliminate the stress of running out last minute — life is too short to get hung up on paper towels!

Woman with ADHD looking at check in grocery store
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Pay with Cash

When making your list, calculate the approximate cost of each item (various grocery list apps can help you with this). Then, set a budget every week, and take out that amount of cash before entering the store. That way, it’s impossible for you to spend more than you intended — say goodbye to impulse buys!

Fresh vegetables and fruits are good for people with ADHD to eat
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Shop in Season

Produce is pricier when it’s out of season — sometimes up to five times more expensive! There are tons of easy apps that help you learn when foods are at their peak of freshness — try Seasons, which has over 200 entries and is available in the US, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and most of Europe.

A man with ADHD puts milk in his basket at the supermarket, while thinking, "I hate grocery shopping."
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Stick to the Perimeter

Most grocery stores are laid out with the produce, meat, and dairy around the outer edges of the store. The center aisles are filled with unhealthy processed foods that are often costlier than fresh foods. Avoid the center aisles unless it’s really necessary, and you’ll save money AND eat better — what more could you ask for?

Employee assisting a woman with ADHD
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Ask for Help!

If you don’t know where something is, don’t wander aimlessly around the store. Ask an employee for help — they’ll be happy to point you in the right direction. The less time you spend looking for what you need, the less frustrated you’ll be.

ADHD person shops for groceries using a phone app
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If All Else Fails — Deliver!

With online services like FreshDirect or apps like Peapod, busy adults with ADHD can actually skip the store altogether and have their groceries delivered right to the door. Both of these services do have delivery fees attached, but the item prices are comparable to what you'd find in-store — and if it eliminates a weekly stress from your life, it may be worth the additional cost.

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