How to Grocery Shop with your Kid

We know what you’re thinking. “Why would I bring my kid to the grocery store if I don’t have to?” You probably already know you can get the shopping done much faster on your own (and without having to deal with begging for chips, soda, or sugary cereal!). Not to mention we’re in the midst of a global pandemic and going anywhere at all can be a challenge. But there are times when bringing a kid to the store with you can’t be avoided and we want to give you the tools to manage that. We’d even go as far as saying we can help you make grocery shopping with kids work to your advantage! It can help make the shopping quicker AND teach your kid to eat healthier. In this post, we’re going to talk about how to make sure grocery shopping with kids is a positive experience for both you and them.

Make sure to have a list!

This one is for you, mom. Make sure you prepare a grocery list beforehand so that you are prepared and know what you need to purchase. This prevents you from getting side-tracked or forgetting important items that you need to come back for later. It also helps you make your trip quick and effective- no more wasting time wandering around, trying to remember that one thing you really need! Ask your child to help you make the list by asking what fruits and vegetables they’d like to have this week, or, if they’re old enough, have the kid write the list as you tell them the items one by one.

Set expectations in advance.

If you have a little one who tends to beg for a treat anytime you shop, be sure to discuss what you will- and will not- be buying beforehand. This is an opportunity to have a clear conversation with your child and invite them to come up with something you might buy instead. For example, you might say, “We’re not going to buy treats at the store today, but I’d love you to help me pick out some new fruit to try. Can you think of something you might like?” Having rules in place beforehand and inviting the child to think about something healthy they’d like helps to give them a guided choice, which encourages their autonomy- something we’ve discussed in other posts.

Once at the store, try a treasure hunt!

Photo from Pexels by Gustavo Fring

Obviously, you don’t want to let your child run free around the store, but if they’re old enough, have them grab things you need in the section you’re shopping in. For example, if you’re in the produce aisle, you might ask your child to grab something on your list that is close by and in your line of sight. You might say, “I spy some fruit you love eating for breakfast. Can you bring me a bunch of bananas and a carton of strawberries?” Not only does this help kids get better at identifying and handling foods, which increases their competence, it also helps you get the shopping done faster! Make sure you remind them to maintain a safe distance from others and to wear a mask when shopping!

Hand them things before they go in the cart.

This one is for younger kids. As you put a food item into the cart, hand it to your baby first. Ask them what it is, what color it is, if they like it or not, and so on. This is a great way to start to educate young children about food and nutrition, which helps support their competence. It also keeps them busy while you shop!

Let them pick!

This one may sound risky, but if you guide kids rather than letting them run wild, letting them pick out a healthy food item can be very beneficial! Telling them they can pick one new fruit or vegetable to try (even a crazy one like a dragon fruit!) can be a great way to get them interested in new, healthy foods. Giving them a guided choice helps build their autonomy and trying a new food together at home is a great way to have a shared food experience, which encourages relatedness. The best part? You might even discover a new, healthy food that your child loves! If you want to do this ahead of time, go through the produce section of the store’s weekly sales flyer and let your child pick out a fruit or vegetable they’d like to try.

Grocery shopping with your kid doesn’t have to be a hassle! All it takes is a little preparedness and some positive action to make grocery shopping an event that can help your child become a healthy eater. Have you tried any of these tips? What works for you when you bring your child grocery shopping? Tell us below!