I went shopping yesterday. Not just any shopping - weekly shopping.
No more is such a trivial journey a hopeful glance into the infinite possibilities of a supermarket's maze. Maybe a new flavour of breakfast bar, or a discount on caramel lattes? Those were the days weren't they.
Now the military might of the prepared is all this world permits. Like trained Scouts, the well prepared shopper must search and scavenge like a hunter for a precise list of items, that remain within the permitted limits.
"Two bottles of milk! TWO! You sycophant. How dare you think that you need more than four pints for a pair of kids and a breastfeeding mother! Summon the supervisor, cast out this heretic for his soul is lost."
At least that's how I remember the conversation going at the till, last week.
The truth of the matter is though, that shopping has changed and, like everything else in lockdown, it's not the end of the world but it is irritating. Take my local Tesco; last week they finalised a plan, that must have taken weeks of organising, and finally put down arrows indicating a one-way system. A sensible approach to keep up social distancing you might think - alas, tis folly. Why you have made an assumption in hearing this, an assumption that all the arrows in the store follow the same direction. HA!
I go through the doors, up the escalator, wait patiently for my scan as you shop Star Trek phaser, walk up the first isle and as I turn to come back down I'm met by the stern, cold scold from the more experienced shopper who no doubt made the same mistake as me 2 minutes ago.
Then I get to the items I need and worry at what might be seen as a socially acceptable number to take. It's 8.30 in the morning, and already the pasta isle has been hoarded by folk who I can only assume are desperate for some home made carbonara. I'm left with the spares as choices: do I pay 50p more for a posh brand, or take the cheap option, of which only 3kg bags remain?
I don't need 3 kilos, I have nowhere to store 3 kilos, but will I be as lucky next time? What will people think of me driving my overfilled trolley with crates of Coke already in it. I'd look like a hoarder, the new scourge of society, sapping the life out of England's green and pleasant land...
Anyway, I bought the posh pasta so stop judging me.
This is the problem with society at the moment. There are grand sweeping gestures flying all over the place, from priority shopping times for key workers and vulnerable members of the public, to free Dominos Pizza for NHS staff, but what does that mean for people in between?
Take our Sam, because of his SEND he has a limited diet. When you compare him to other children with his condition though he is doing really well, because he's not peg-fed through a tube. Still this means that getting the food he needs is very important and that requires us buying specific food, like pasta, on a regular basis.
He's not classed as vulnerable however. His condition does not affect his lungs and he does not fall into any of the other 'vulnerable' categories, so we're stuck trying to compete with perfectly abled people desperate for some spag-bol, or tagliatelle with a twist.
We are trying to do our best to avoid going out and buying things unnecessarily, and with this in mind I have devised a list of tips to follow so you too can avoid the perils of becoming a 'Bulk Buyer'!
Choose your trolley wisely - Do you need a big one, with space for 2 children, really? Before you join the queue, take a moment to think about how much you need to buy and if it's just for you, then get a smaller, more appropriately sized trolley, or even a basket, to reduce temptation.
How many bags for 'life' do you need? - It tends to help, if you can scan as you shop, to bag as you go round so think how many bags do you need? If you run out, think: do I want to buy more of them, or can I put something back?
Plan your meals and buy for your needs - Why would someone like myself, who openly claims I need pasta for my child's special needs diet not openly hoard the stuff in broad daylight without shame? Because I don't need to. We planned our meals for the week ahead, and I knew that 1kg would be more than enough. There's no point in me getting any more than that, and if we all do that there will be more left on the shelf.
Stick to your list! - If you know what you need, get it. Don't get distracted for any reason, no- "ooh that looks nice", or "I wonder if they'll like this?" nonsense. If you need it, get it - otherwise, don't bother.
Know your supermarkets - Most importantly, every chain of supermarket has it's own rules and regulations on what you can and can't buy, and they are changing regularly. There are plenty of places to find out online, but the best way to get access I find is to sign up to their accounts online. Every week the SEOs of Sainsbury's, Asda, Tesco and many others send out emails with what they are doing to get products on shelves and in your food cupboards so find out what the ones near you are doing and, if you can, shop around. I now find myself having to go to more than one shop each week to try and get my full list completed, and even then I still don't manage it.
So that's it - for now - we'll see how long this lockdown goes on for, and if possible I'll think of some other tips before my next venture out. Until then:
Stay Home; Stay Safe