How to have fun while grocery shopping with children

Grocery shopping with your kids can be a chore. Jennifer has a few tips that could help.

By letting her daughter help with grocery shopping, Jennifer is teaching her to make healthy food choices.

Raise your hand if you like grocery shopping with your children.

Exactly what I thought. Not a single one of you raised your hand. And for good reason — grocery shopping with children is an adventure for the bravest of parents. Early in parenthood my husband and I agreed that we would never make grocery shopping a family outing, having witnessed many meltdowns in the cereal aisle at the store. Unless they have superior impulse control, inevitably, your children will:

  • accidently break something
  • scoop molasses out of a bulk food container with their hands
  • play hide-and-seek with you (of course without telling you they planned to hide)
  • beg for candy
  • get their fingers pinched in the conveyor belt at the check-out
  • head-butt their sibling and give them a bloody nose
  • poop their pants

In the last month, all of those have happened to me. But as a stay-at-home mom, grocery shopping is an unavoidable task (that said, over the summer when I was feeling overwhelmed, my husband took over the grocery shopping). Call it trial by fire, but I’ve come up with a few strategies to actually make grocery shopping with children fun.

Shop locally
We buy all of our milk, bread and meat locally. The business owners have gotten to know our children and greet them by name and the kids love it. It’s also less travel time in the car, which can add up if you are in a rural area like we are (a “quick” trip to the grocery store can take an hour when I have both kids in tow).

Let them do the shopping
By letting your children choose the colour of apples or peppers, how many bananas to buy or their favourite flavour of yogurt helps them feel more involved in what they eat, plus it’s an opportunity to teach number and colour recognition.

Avoid the kiddie-sized carts
The kiddie-size carts were invented by someone who a) doesn’t own a grocery store and b) doesn’t have children. Hands down, they are worse than any full-sized cart with a wobbly wheel, the kiddie carts were invented for the sole purpose of having toddlers play demolition derby in the pasta sauce aisle (which means that you are left on the hook for $50 in broken jars of marinara). I tell my kids that the carts are either broken or cost money to use. That white lie saves my sanity.

Play the “Does This Look Healthy?” game
I remember my son begging me for some sort of processed-fruit-gush-simulated-dairy-flavoured product last summer. The box was brightly coloured with explosions and cartoon characters and he kept telling me that ALL of his friends had it. Instead of immediately saying no, I asked him if he thought that food choice was healthy and would make him run faster at soccer. After taking a second look at the product packaging, he shook his head. This is now one of our favourite games to play at the grocery store.

Steer clear of the cold cereal aisle
If you’ve ever gone grocery shopping with children, this one does not need explanation.

Make friends with fresh fruit
No matter if your children ate a full meal before entering the grocery store, they will be starving the second you enter the grocery store. Many grocery chains offer free cookies to children, but I prefer to pick up a container of fresh pre-cut fruit. While you may frown on this method of taming hungry tummies, I’d much rather get the stink eye from the clerk when I pay for the empty fruit container, than a child hopped up on sugar cookies.

What are your tips for surviving grocery shopping with children?

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