Grocery Shopping with a disability

Since becoming unwell grocery shopping was something I dreaded each week.

Its an energy consuming and physically demanding task that is essential for everyday survival. But for those with physical, mental, intellectual, sensory difficulties the grocery store can be a place which causes significant distress and setbacks to one’s health.


The Grocery Store is a place that sets your brain on fire: its full of blaring stimuli such as moving customers, big florescent lights, millions of colours, textures, smells and shapes. It also requires a lot of problem-solving, sequencing and planning as to what is currently in the pantry, what meals I am going to cook, and skills to know where to locate items or ask for help.

I would often find myself becoming so overwhelmed that I would stand in the middle of the aisle confused as to where I was, disorientated, dizzy and often leaving 2 hours later without purchasing the items I needed for the week or impulsively purchasing items just because I wanted to get out.

This continued to happen until I was introduced to online grocery shopping. An amazing way to use technology to adapt a complex occupation into something more manageable, especially after someone, has been discharged from the hospital!

Saved Mental Energy:

  1. Through my online account (e.g Woolworths) I have set up a shopping list of the regular items that we need each week. Bread, milk eggs. All I have to do is tick, yes and they are placed in my virtual trolley. 🥕
  2. Simple meal planning. Woolworths offers a list of hundreds of recipes you can try. If you are interested in that meal you can tick which ingredients, you need to purchase from that recipe. This means you can easily check what you have already in your pantry 🌽
  3. Once you’re familiar with the online website, items are easy to locate. You can search by browsing categories or search in the search box for a particular item. 🥒
  4. You don’t have to remember your recyclable bags which is another thing taxing your memory. 🍒
  5. During the week, as you use items from your pantry you can add them to your online grocery cart to purchase later, instead of having to remember all items at the end. I suggest making a regular time order your items for the next week. Calendar 📆
  6. Items purchased last week. There is a section where you can view the items you purchased last week. As my eating is very simple I generally select the same items.

Physical Energy Saved: 💪

Shopping requires a tremendous amount of physical energy such as trying to navigate through customers, push a trolley and lift heavy shopping bags from your car to inside your house. I would become so mentally exhausted from shopping, that physically I couldn’t lift items. Sometimes my grocery bags would sit in my car for hours as I regained energy to lift them inside.

• With online delivery, you can pay for items to be delivered directly to your bench ($2 per crate) or to your door ($1). Generally, if you ask nicely, the deliverer is happy to take the items straight to your bench to avoid you lifting them.

Other Benefits:

• Through purchasing online, we have saved around $50 each week. This is because I am not impulsively purchasing items we do not need. It is also easy to purchase items straight off the catalogue and save money either by searching for sale items via the categories. 💰

• As for delivery cost. It costs annually $75. This is just over $1 per week. We have saved energy, time, marital arguments caused by stress when shopping.

As grocery shopping would normally take hours to recover from. Now, instead of grocery shopping, I am now spending this time doing exercise, spending time with my husband outdoor, or doing art! 🎨

FAQ and Tips

• The items that are delivered are they of good quality?

Yes. We have generally been happy with the produced delivered. Only once in the last two years have we been delivered something that was not quite right

• How do you select your delivery time?

Generally, you need to put your order in for delivery the next day. Orders are delivered in four-hour windows. This can be a little bit frustrating. So we choose Sunday arvo when we know one of us will be home. You will also get a text message alerting you to an approximate 1-hour window that your items will be delivered.

• Is it expensive?

Work out what’s best for yourself, whether that is pay as you go, an annual fee or spend a certain amount to get the free delivery.

• What happens if I forget an item?

If I forget to purchase an item I can still go up to the shops and get it. I still do a small shop if we need something specific. The beauty is, instead of spending 2 hours I can get into and out within 10 minutes!

OT principles applied: Adapting the occupation, memory aids, assistive technology, energy conservation

Until then… Have a day,   

Love Laura

Founder of OT for BPD

Published by OT Trauma Tools

Founder Mental health Advocate; Phd Candidate; Occupational Therapy Teacher and Researcher Australia “As an occupational therapist diagnosed with BPD I will use this page to share about the various interventions and strategies that are helpful to those with BPD. I will also share about the positive and sometimes challenging approaches that health professionals have used in my treatment in emergency, inpatient, outpatient and community settings. I hope that by sharing my lived experience I can help improve the experience of those struggling to understand Borderline Personality Disorders (BPD) and also support those living with BPD and other mental health challenges Most importantly we will share how occupation can powerfully help change lives!" Laura

One thought on “Grocery Shopping with a disability

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: