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9 Tips for Making Grocery Shopping with Arthritis Easier

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These simple adjustments can reduce your discomfort at the store.

woman walking with plant in bag

When you suffer from a health issue like osteoarthritis, chores can become even more of a, well, chore. Tasks that you might once have taken for granted, like grabbing a jar of pasta sauce from the top shelf, can become difficult to execute without a struggle. Still, you need fresh groceries regularly, so here are some tips to keep in mind that can help take some of the pain out of a shopping excursion.

Strategize Your Trip

Just like an organized prep session can make cooking a whole lot easier, a bit of planning can help a grocery shopping trip go smoothly. Make lists of everything you need and plot out your path to minimize the amount of time you have to go up and down the aisles. For a run that requires stops at more than one store, drive to the one that's farthest away first, getting closer to home as you cross things off your list. This way, if you need to take a break and finish your errands tomorrow, you won’t have as far to go.

Protect Your Hands with Gloves

Before you head out to the store, put on a pair of gloves. They can be tight-fitting gardening gloves, leather gloves, or special compression gloves designed for those with arthritis. They’ll help with gripping while you load your shopping cart, and have the added benefit of keeping your hands a little warmer when you're dealing with refrigerated or frozen foods.

Bring Your Own Bags…

The handles on plastic shopping bags can dig into your skin, causing pain when you transfer from cart to car, then from car to house. For easier grip, you can use a hook or clip that functions as a carrier tool for your bags. Or, better yet, bring your own reusable bags with shoulder straps and ask the bagger to keep the load light for each bag so that you don't have as hard a time loading and unloading them from the car. (Another bonus: they’re better for the environment than plastic!)

…And Your Own Cart

Why does it seem like every shopping cart at every store has at least one wheel that doesn’t move at all? Make things easier on yourself by storing your own wheeled utility cart in your trunk (which will also make the trip from trunk to home easier on you, too!). If you live walking distance from your local market, bring it with you.

Have a Feel-Better Kit Ready

You can’t just stay home every time your joints are bothering you — you need to eat! Keep a kit handy of ways to help relieve any minor arthritis pains that arise, like an easy-open bottle of Advil Easy Open Arthritis Cap, lotion to massage and stretch your sore joints, or heat packs and hand warmers.

Use a Motorized Shopping Cart

You can often find mobility-assistance devices like motorized shopping carts at outposts of many larger chains. Taking walking and pushing out of the equation can mitigate discomfort.

woman smiling at her phone

Use a Delivery Service

If you have the means, it might be worth considering using a delivery app or website, especially on days when your symptoms are heightened. Many grocery chains often offer home delivery as well, for a small fee. This can also help if you find you have trouble pulling cash or credit cards out of your wallet, as there’s no pressure to get them out in a timely manner.

Set Up Some Repeat Deliveries

It may be most comfortable to order large or heavy items from an online retailer that offers a subscription service. That way, you can get regularly scheduled deliveries of things you always need, like toilet paper, cat litter, olive oil, and other things that are difficult to lug around.

Enlist a Buddy

When you’re at the store, it can be difficult to find store employees to ask for assistance (or you may feel embarrassed about asking). If you have a friend or family member who you can coordinate with to run errands together, it can make for a less anxious—and more social—shopping experience.