There are days, sometimes a week or more when I just can’t…anything much less shop for groceries. Taking a shower is like running a marathon when you have an autoimmune disease or chronic pain. Walking from the shower to the bed feels like the last stretch of the mile I had to run in junior high school. It shouldn’t be a surprise that shopping with chronic illness is akin to climbing a mountain for most Spoonies or Unchargeables. That’s why I came up with some shopping tips for the chronically ill. I hope they help you as much as they have me.
When it’s too hard for me to blink because of pain, exhaustion, and weakness there is no way I can go grocery shopping. It still needs to be done though. After you’ve licked the empty peanut butter jar clean and your dog’s food starts to look better than starving something’s gotta give.
When friends and family help…
Sometimes we have friends or family that can help us but most of them have jobs and their own lives. No matter how much they want to help it sometimes doesn’t coincide with the times we are coherent or have the strength to shop. You may want to show them this list of shopping tips for the chronically ill so they understand a little more about what would be helpful.
I can’t always stay awake or function when my family is available to take me grocery shopping. If they use my list they come back without things or get a different size or brand that just doesn’t do the trick. They mean well and I’m not going to complain about any help I receive but it is nice to get what you want.
Here are my tips to make shopping for groceries easier if you have a chronic illness:
- Amazon, have things delivered to you. I like to buy some things in bulk because it is more cost effective and I can shop less. Anything that saves me from shopping is my hero.
- Walmart can be good but their inventory tracking doesn’t seem to be in real time. That means the app could tell you your store has an item in stock but after you place your order you could wait days or weeks before you get what you ordered. You also have to go inside to pick up your order but you can check in when you leave your house so they can get your order ready to load into your vehicle. If you aren’t in a hurry then this tip for shopping with chronic illness can work greatly in your favor. I have been lucky enough to have the person bring everything to the car and load it for me. I’m sure that unless they are swamped they will have no problem doing this for you. I haven’t tried it but I have wondered if you could call Walmart to have someone help you shop or bring things to the car. I haven’t tried their grocery app or ordering food from them online but it will be one of my next research tasks.
Have someone shop for you. One of the best tips for shopping for the chronically ill.
- Task Rabbit, hire someone to shop and pick up what you need.
- Use those bags that keep food hot or cold. I usually use them for cold or frozen food. If I have no energy when I get home I can leave the groceries in the car until my family is home to bring them inside.
- Uber Eats, order food from a restaurant and have it delivered. If you are so weak and exhausted you just can’t go shopping and you live in an area that supports Uber Eats then this will at least get you through a meal or two. Hopefully, you will be able to shop or have someone else help you soon after.
- Uber to take you to pick up groceries. There are times we can’t drive whether it is because of medication or exhaustion and pain. I have had to pull over and take a snooze because I was a danger to myself and others. When everyone else is busy get yourself an Uber to pick up groceries you ordered online or go in, shop and get another Uber home.
Use grocery store personal shoppers
- My grocery store here in south Texas is HEB and they have HEB Curbside where you order online, an employee shops for you and you just pick it up. I LOVE this because it makes everything so easy. I would do all my shopping like this if I could. We aren’t too far off from that happening with drones becoming popular with Amazon for delivering orders.
- Shipt is another service I’ve heard good things about from friends. I have not personally tried it because the area I live in is pretty “small town” and doesn’t really support things like this. We just got Uber not too long ago but there are never any cars available because there aren’t any drivers. I used Uber when I stayed with my daughter in Houston.
Use the electric grocery scooter. I usually have to use my cane to get from the car to the store entrance. Once inside I grab the first scooter and put my cane in the basket out of the way. This makes it easier if you are weak, in pain or the fatigue is too much to walk the store with a cart. On my better days, I use the cart to hold me up.
- If you can shop online and have your items picked up. See if a friend or family member can do the pick up at a time that is convenient for them. This means you get exactly what you want and don’t have to use precious energy shopping. Don’t be afraid to ask if they will help you put things away too. When you are feeling up to it make them a special meal or dessert they like as a thank you.
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Check out these other shopping tips for the chronically ill from other people just like us.
Kim over at Grace Is Sufficient has some more great ideas to help you get through shopping while staying sane and saving some energy. Here are her 12 Tips To Make Grocery Shopping Easier that I think you will like.
Sometimes it is hard for family and friends to understand how difficult everything is for you. I like to share articles to show family or friends how difficult every task is with my autoimmune disease. Sometimes it’s nice to know you’re not alone too. The Mighty had readers send in their stories about what grocery shopping is like when you have a chronic illness. Read more here.
Shopping while chronically ill or in a flare is much harder than able-bodied people understand. Sometimes it will be easier than others but, if you’re like me, it takes too much out of you. I did some light shopping and light cleaning the other day. I slept for most of the next 48 hours and the 3rd day I was completely knackered.
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Using some of these services or apps can help you conserve energy and, hopefully, keep you from triggering a flare. I like to use a grocery app called Grocery IQ to keep track of what I need to make shopping easier too. Still, there are times all I can do is try to text what I need to one of my kids. Try keeping a few people in reserve for those times you need groceries but can’t get out of bed.
I love hearing all about how you tackle your struggles with chronic illness!
Do you have other tips you can share with us? Most spoonies have found workarounds for all types of things and I’d love to share your advice. Write a comment below or send me an email.
Kim is a freelance blogger, writer and VA. She loves sharing resources for other “spoonies” to help them create lives they love. Hoarding crochet patterns on Pinterest is her second favorite thing.