Tuesday, July 7, 2009

6 Tricks for Introverts who Hate to Grocery Shop

Bruce, my guest this week, is husband to Jane and dad to two tweens.

He willingly met me at Whole Foods in Boulder to learn how to shop on a budget.

I say willingly, because as I mentioned yesterday, Bruce apparently admitted to Jane that he needed help navigating WFs and overcoming his tendency to impulse purchase.

Jane works part time and Bruce, a geology professor with flexible work hours, wants to do more to help Jane with household responsibilities, like the grocery shopping.

When I asked him about impulse purchasing, he said plain and simple: "I hate shopping so I go in and grab whatever, then get out!"

With that in mind, I thought it really big of him to offer to do the grocery shopping in the first place!

Thing is, I can totally identify; I find shopping overwhelming and thus it often feels like a real chore. It has something to do with being an introvert and finding a big grocery store too stimulating.

The noise, the people, the bright lights, the choices -- it all adds up to sensory overload, if I let it.

Paradoxically, being an introvert, is also the very trait that makes me such a good budget shopper because, like Bruce, I tend to get in, grab what I need, then get out fast.

But unlike Bruce, my getting in and out fast isn't an exercise in impulsive shopping, rather, as a stimulus-sensitive introvert, I've learned to employ the following 6 tricks to keep me on task, on budget and under-whelmed:
  1. I shop the least busy time of the day, i.e. early morning. I find Saturday or Sunday mornings the best.
  2. I one-stop shop and then only once a week.
  3. I write a list and stick to it.
  4. My list is made up of whole, unprocessed foods like fresh produce, fish, dairy, meat, bulk items, which I collect easily and quickly from the edge of the store.
  5. I avoid the middle aisles as much as possible because that's where I tend to feel overwhelmed by the choice, the patterns & colors of the boxed, bottled and packaged products, and by the people and their carts.
  6. I give myself about 45 minutes to collect my groceries and check out. More than that and I start to feel annoyed or agitated, which is a sure sign that I'm moving into overwhelm.
Because Jane and Bruce both work at a distance from where they live, actively co-parent two busy tweens, and live in the mountains above Boulder, they have to be very organized when it comes to buying their groceries from a store that's 40 minutes away.

When they lived in the UK (where they're from) Bruce happily shopped online for their groceries (an introvert's definition of the perfect shopping experience) and the groceries were delivered for free.

For Bruce it was easy, organized and convenient.

So it's no surprise that during our pre-shop conversation outside WFs, while Bruce browsed the Good Stuff For Less sale items and the Whole Deal for coupons, already looking somewhat overwhelmed, he commented, "I wish Whole Foods had an online shopping service."

Bruce might not enjoy shopping, but he does enjoy cooking, and like a true scientist, he follows recipes diligently. With that in mind, he added to the above comment: "If Whole Foods had an online shopping service, I'd use our master shopping list plus their online recipe guide to help me make my grocery selections."

I mentioned Whole Foods free personal shopping service to Bruce, but he preferred the idea of shopping online over using their concierge -- again, for an introvert, you can't beat the convenience of navigating a pick-and-click screen.

Tomorrow, I'll talk about how Bruce managed grocery shopping for the family while I shadowed him, emphasizing the 6 tricks above in an effort to keep him on task, on budget, and we two introverts from becoming overwhelmed.


jen said...

thanks....i never really thought of my dislike of grocery shopping in relation to my introversion...i always prefer small local places to places like whole foods bc it is soo overstimulating and big and too many choices! thanks for helping me understand this part of me!

Louise Ross said...

Good idea, Jen, shopping in smaller grocery stores where there's less choice, people, noise, and stimulus in general is a much better grocery-shopping experience for introverts.