Monday, 27 June 2011

Surviving the supermarket

As a single parent every domestic chore is my responsibility. Whether it’s cleaning, washing, ironing, or trawling the Internet to check the authenticity of nude Britney Spears photographs, they all have my name on.

One of the things I dislike doing most is supermarket shopping. I know it’s a virtual necessity today, but like filling my car with diesel, I see it as an irritating interruption to the rest of my life.

So, I’d thought I’d share my tips for surviving the supermarche.

1) Think exit not entrance

When arriving at the supermarket don’t fight and scrounge for a parking spot as near to its entrance as possible, think about how you are going to leave. It’s a false perception that being close to the doors of a supermarket is of immense benefit. It’s normally the busiest area, and thus slows you down. I always look for a spot that has a short exit path, and is also very near a trolley store. Often supermarkets have alternate exits that very few people use. I have a keen eye for them, and in general it means my exit from them is a much more pleasant and quieter affair.

2) Have a list

Always, always have a list. Even if it is just the key items you’ll be screwed without scribbled on the back of your hand. I have developed a system at home of developing a shopping list. There’s a wipe board on the back of my pantry, I write on it when we are out of something I don’t buy every week. Max even chips in, sometimes with little drawings.

The system doesn’t work brilliantly, and I still forget stuff – I even forget stuff when I have it on the list in front of me – but I reckon it means I forget fewer items than I would without one, and, more importantly, it means I don’t buy more stuff than I actually need.

3) Take earphones

I always plug myself into music when shopping. It deters other people from talking to you and thus slowing you down, especially if you sing along to Olly Murs or Chesney Hawkes, folks tend to leave you alone.

4) Sarcasm is your friend

Isn’t it always? Are you sick of being asked: “Could I interest you in this?” or “Do you need help with your packing?” Sarcastic replies like: “I don’t know, but I’m not going to let you try” and “I have no idea, I haven’t even started it yet.” help quell my irritation.

5) Ignore the offers

My iPhone comes in useful again here, where it turns in to my calculator. Retailers have a nasty habit of changing the way prices are displayed and comparable. The place this is most often prevalent is the ketchup section. The biggest item is not always the best value. Have a healthy scepticism towards everything offers. And don’t worry about working out the best deal, everyone else in the supermarket already thinks you’re a dick because you’ve been singing JLS out loud anyway.

6) Pick your queue wisely

The shortest queue may not always be the best option. Look out for the numpties so unable to add and subtract that they need to separate their shopping to pay from different sources. These dicks also tend to have five pence off discount tokens, which of course they don’t produce until their shopping is complete, which leads me neatly to.

7) They are going to ask you for money, have it ready

It amazes me the amount of people, who having stood admiring their conveyor belt of crap slowly moving past the till, are then seemingly surprised when asked for money. They then obviously ferret about in their bag looking for a card for ages, and then a loyalty one, much to my irritation. My conveyor belt loading protocol includes having my payment method ready in my back pocket. I’m like Clint Eastwood with it.

8) Arrange your shopping

Have a relative plan of how you are going to arrange what was loose shopping into whatever you are taking it home in, bags, boxes, whatever. I am not terribly anal with this, I just tend to load the conveyor belt by weight, grouping items that won’t crush each other together, or at least having the heavier items at the bottom of bags and the lighter for delicate items on the top.

9) Don’t go to the supermarket

My top tip for supermarket shopping is not to do it. I’ve found online grocery shopping a brilliant experience. And some of the delivery slots cost as little as £3, and with the price of fuel, I think I may struggle to make a specific visit to the supermarket and back for much less. It also fantastic for adding items that you may have forgotten on your first look in the fridge or pantry. It's a myth that they always send you out of date crap, I've never had a bad experience in two years of on-line grocery problem and isn't that what a freezer is for anyway?