Before you leave the house

Research sensory friendly shopping times in your local shop, if available. Check what time and day of the week that these are on. Alternatively you can consider visiting your local shops at an off-peak time.

Plan your meals so that you don’t buy too little or too much food. Deciding what meals you will be having in the week will also help you plan ahead and will help complete your shopping list.

Have a list in your kitchen which you can add to throughout the week for food and household supplies that you need to buy. This can then be used as part of our shopping list. Depending on what works better for you, have a written list and bring a pen to the shops with you to tick the items off your list, or make a list on your phone, or a shopping list app.

If you have sensory difficulties while shopping, bring your headphones and listen to some music while going around the shop. If the bright lights bother you, bring sunglasses with you. It is often quite cold in supermarkets, wear something comfortable to keep you warm if you are sensitive to temperatures.

Visit the shop with a friend or family member and take pictures of the layout of the shop so that you are less apprehensive when you go by yourself and you will have a better idea of where certain items are located.

What to bring with you

The important things to remember: Phone, Keys, Wallet/Purse

Your shopping list, on paper

Shopping bags

Bring a €1 or € 2 coin with you for a trolley, some shops take different coins, or get a keyring for shopping trolleys

Sensory supports: Headphones and playlist, sunglasses, gloves, fidgets etc

When you get there

Using a shopping trolley in the supermarket is often less stressful than a basket as it means you do not need to pack your bags at the checkout and can place all groceries back in the trolley and pack your bags at the bag packing area afterwards, at your own pace. You can decide what best works for you.

When choosing meat and dairy products, make sure you look at the use by date and try to get the date farthest away.

Frozen vegetables are really handy to have, as they don’t spoil like fresh vegetables. Buying frozen vegetables like corn, peas, peppers, spinach and broccoli are handy to keep in your freezer to use for dinners.

When at the cash desk/till, unload your groceries onto the belt. Try to pack similar foods together, cleaning supplies together, meats together, frozen foods together, and don’t squish bread or eggs at the bottom of your bags. You can pay with your bank card, phone (if you have it registered to your bank card) or with cash.

There are self-service checkouts available in some supermarkets and these allow for you to go at your own pace. These are only for customers with baskets and not for those with trolleys.

When you get home

Unpack your shopping and place them in the fridge and presses. Make sure you put anything frozen away first.

Relax after completing your grocery shop. Do something nice for yourself, even if it is just to sit with a cup of tea to help you decompress.

Don’t use food after their use by date.

If you have forgotten something on your list, its ok, it happens to everyone. Put the forgotten items on your new shopping list and get it in next grocery shop. If the item is needed that day, you could pop in to your local shop.