Grocery shopping with children in tow may be tough from time to time, but
the jury's in and experts agree: grocery shopping with kids fosters skills they
need for life.
"The more often your kids shop with you, the better it is for their
development," says Tanya Remer Altmann, MD, a pediatrician. School-age
children can sharpen a variety of skills in the supermarket, including those
that will help them to make savvy food choices on their own in the years to
By Francesca L. Kritz
Consult Your Doctor
One night a few summers ago, when my 18-month-old daughter's mosquito bites
were making her itchy, cranky, and sleepless, I went to a 24-hour pharmacy to
buy antihistamine. It wasn't until I got home that I read the package
instructions: for children under 6, consult physician. By then it was after
10:00 p.m., and I didn't want to bother her doctor. So I guessed and gave Dina
a teaspoonful. As it turns out, the amount was right, but that...
But what about the whining, begging, and boredom? There will always be some
of that. The trick is to make kids part of the process, long before you head
out to the store.
Grocery Shopping With Kids: It Starts With a Plan
Before setting foot into the store, you want to lay a little groundwork. One
key is to get children involved in the grocery shopping process. Try:
Talking about what to buy for healthy meals and snacks, then have kids make
a list of what you need, suggests Janice Bissex, MS, RD, co-author of The
Moms' Guide to Meal Makeovers.
Get everyone involved in checking store flyers for sales, or new and
different healthy foods to try.
Keep kids involved emotionally. Allow them to pick a few items for school
lunches and other meals.
Ready, Set, Grocery Shop!
Once you're in the store, give your kids as much to do as they can handle
for their age. Here are some ways to keep kids busy and hone their
Let Kids Help. Dole out coupons to kids and let them find the
relevant foods. Or delegate part of the grocery shopping list and have kids
locate the items. They can also help by crossing off items as you toss them in
the cart. And stick to the list as much as possible to curb costs and set a
Make Up Some Math Games. School-age kids are capable of tracking
grocery costs with a calculator. Have them enter the price of each item. It's
fun for them to see how close they come to the final cost. In the produce
Asking kids about how much six apples might weigh, then weigh the fruit to
see if they were close.
Ask kids to place 2 pounds worth of oranges in a bag for you.
Give older boys and girls the price per pound, and have them guess at the
total price. See how close they come at checkout.
Play "I Spy." When grocery shopping with older kids have
them play detective, searching out certain items for you, such as:
Cereal with at least 4 grams of fiber and fewer than 8 grams of sugar per