Healthy Grocery Shopping with Kids

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on March 08, 2020

From the bright packages to the rolling carts, a grocery store is a stimulating, exciting environment to young children. That raises the chances they're going to run, shout, whine, and beg -- and you'll be frazzled by the time you hit the checkout. These tips can make grocery shopping with kids easier and get kids -- from toddlers to teens -- interested in healthy foods.

Tips for Young Children

Give your child a snack before you go shopping or bring a snack to eat in the store, such as raisins, orange sections, or whole-grain crackers.

Make shopping a game by asking questions like "Where do apples grow?"or "Can you spot the oranges?"

At the checkout, ask your child to name the foods in your cart or the colors of the packages.

Tips for School-age Children

Let your child help make a healthy shopping list. They can look in the fridge or cupboards to see if an item is on hand or if it should go on your list. When getting ready to cook, ask them to choose a vegetable to have as part of dinner.

In the store, ask your child to help with simple things, such as finding your usual breakfast cereal or putting six tangerines in a bag.

To deal with the "I want that!" syndrome, let your child choose one food each shopping trip that’s not on the list. Tell them the rules beforehand, and then be sure to honor their choice.

Tips for Tweens and Teens

Keep kids busy by letting them push the cart, find items on the shelves, check off items on your list, or help unload the cart at checkout.

Have kids check prices or read nutrition labels to compare similar food items. Encourage them to learn to read the nutrition facts box. When comparing items, teach them to look for the one with the least saturated fat, no trans fats, and little to no added sugar. To avoid added sugar, show them how to read the ingredient list so they can steer away from items with high-fructose corn syrup, glucose, cane sugar, dextrose, and syrup.

Ask your child to choose a family dinner each week and find the ingredients at the store. Give kids only as much as they can handle for their age. By making grocery shopping a family affair, everyone wins.

WebMD Medical Reference



American Dietetic Association: "Raising healthy eaters from preschool to high school."

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension: "Winning ways to grocery shop with young children." 

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