Real Tips for Grocery Shopping with Kids

While we're all grateful for the proliferation of grocery pickup options, going to the store with your kids can still be a fun learning experience.
grocery shopping with kids. two children sitting in a grocery cart

When I had my second child, honestly, grocery shopping with the kids became torture. I felt exhausted before we even left the house. Shopping with a toddler in tow is enough to make any parent throw up their hands and order take-out for the foreseeable future. But the fact that the fridge is never truly bare and that we continue to eat every day is proof that shopping with kids is doable.

First, can we just talk about how more and more grocery stores are offering pick-up services? This wonderful new service is a dream come true for parents. I simply go online at night after the kids are in bed, do my grocery shopping and then schedule a pick-up time for the next day. I get a text message when my order is ready, and then I load up the kids and drive to the store. The store employee brings me my groceries and loads in them in my car. I shut my trunk and head home. It is truly magical. But I know not every store offers this service, and if you’re like me and hit up the bulk item stores once a month, you’re still toting around kiddos in the cart. So how can you make the tip less torturous for everyone? Here are a few tips:

Get yourself organized.

I know you’ve heard it before, but having a meal plan and making a list before shopping makes it easier.

Make the kids grocery lists.

Let your child make her own “shopping list” at home with a few items. If she’s older, she can use this as an opportunity to work on her spelling, think A-P-P-L-E-S. If she’s younger, she can draw pictures. At the store, let her be responsible for reading items on her list.

Don’t shop on an empty stomach.

This goes for both of you! Nothing is worse than a hungry toddler meltdown, and if you shop while you’re famished you’ll be more likely to make unplanned (and unhealthy) purchases.

Set up expectations in advance.

Before you go into the supermarket, tell your child that you won‘t be buying any treats, but he can choose one new fruit to try or a box of granola bars for snack time.

Park smart.

Don’t automatically look for a parking spot closest to the entrance. Instead, choose a space near the cart corrals. You can load your kids up by the car and avoid abandoning your cart when you’re finished shopping.

Play I-Spy.

Whether your little one is spying “something green” or spinach across the produce department, encourage your kids to look around and be engaged with their surroundings.

Have an action plan for tantrums and fights.

This will depend on your kids and your needs. The most common problem I have at the store is my two start arguing. This is a great time to give jobs of spotting a grocery item you need or to start playing Grocery Store I-Spy.

Give yourself time and reframe your mind.

It’s so much easier to be patient when you’re not having to rush. If you can get into the mental mode of this being a playful adventure, it’s easier to relax.

While you’re likely to experience a transition period, and not every shopping trip will be a dream, getting groceries doesn’t have to be hard. And, while I do love the local grocery pick-up options that I mentioned earlier, there is something to be said for making grocery time a fun time for kids. Sparking your child’s curiosity in food can help lead to a lifelong interest in healthful eating, cooking, or even farming. It’s never too early or too late to begin.

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Categories: Little Ones