Grocery Shopping with Your Kids: How to Make it Work

Grocery Shopping with Your Kids: How to Make it Work

Try these tips to keep your kids busy and happy while you shop at the store.


By: Laura Franklin

Shopping with kids doesn't have to be torture.

Between the middle-of-the-store tantrums, the shouts of "Mom, can we buy that?" and the inconvenient potty breaks, grocery shopping with kids can be taxing. Despite the fact that shopping alone is quicker and easier, needing the kids to tag along every once in a while is inevitable.

Luckily, a few simple steps will ensure that you're in and out of the store as quickly as possible and arrive home with the food you need and smiles on everyone's faces.

Make a List
Knowing what you need to buy before you even enter the store will keep your shopping trip as organized and concise as possible. You'll also save money by sticking with items that you need instead of filing your cart with impulse buys.

Get to Know the Store
The better you know the layout of your grocery store, the faster you’ll be able to map out your route through the store and back to your car. Nothing eats up time and patience like wandering a store trying to find an ingredient or two. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in finding the right aisle to complete your list.

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Take Care of Business
Make sure that little ones head to the bathroom before leaving home or at the beginning of the shopping trip so that you take fewer unexpected and inconvenient trips to the restroom while shopping.

Make Shopping a Game
If your kids are old enough, enlist them in helping you locate the items on your list. Finding the most affordable options can also give your child basic for older children. Younger kids can still participate by selecting the right color box from the shelf or counting the number of cans of vegetables you put in the cart. The best part is that they won't even realize that they're learning.

Choose Your Time Wisely
When shopping with kids, the time of day really does make a difference. Instead of attempting a quick trip to the store right before nap time or when they’re hungry for lunch, head to the store when the kids are well-rested, well-fed and in good moods. Also, pay attention to when your store is the busiest — such as right before dinner on weekdays or Saturday afternoon — and avoid them (and the resulting long lines) like the plague.

Set Limits
Be consistent. Decide before the shopping trip whether or not you’ll let the kids pick out a treat or special snack. If you cave once in a while, your kids will ask for treats every time you go out — and they’ll keep asking until you say yes.

Bring a Bag of T­ricks
Keep a few snacks, a book or an electronic game in your purse for those times when your child gets restless. Sometimes a distraction is all a child needs to get through an ordinarily boring task like grocery shopping. Don’t forget to talk to each other — an engaging conversation is often all they need to keep them occupied.

Above all, attitude is everything. Kids mirror their parents’ attitudes. If you go into the shopping trip stressed, they will in turn be more restless and unhappy. Have a positive attitude, and the kids (and you!) may end up loving your shopping trips together.



A stay-at-home mom turned full-time writer, Laura is a mother of five in the Washington, D.C., area whose daily life consists of a little bit of everything: kids, food, photography, travel, books, music — and very little sleep. Find her at her blog, Better in Bulk.

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