Kids + Grocery Shopping = Learning Time




Grocery shopping is my most dreaded chore.  No matter how organized I think I am, it always seems to take too much time. I have tried making a weekly list and going once a week for everything. I have tried going daily to get what I need just for each day. It just seems to take way more time than I want to spend, but it’s a necessary part of life. Have you ever thought about it as more than just getting groceries? It can be a perfect time to work on your child’s learning and behavior.


1.       Needs vs. Wants

Grocery shopping is a great time to discuss needs versus wants. As you put items in the cart, you can have conversations about the importance of it. “We need more toilet paper.” “I want a cake mix to make dessert for dinner.” “We need some more apples.” “I want a candy bar.” 

2.       Behavior

How many of us dread taking our kids to the grocery store? It can be a nightmare when they decide to have a melt-down. But it can be a fantastic opportunity for conversations and learning.  Keeping them engaged while shopping, can stop many issues. Talking a lot to keep their interest can be helpful. “Look at those apples. Which ones do you think we should get? Let’s get three red apples and three green apples. We also need oranges. Help me pick 4 good ones.” 

Putting a good behavior incentive on your list can help. It can be anything that your child likes and wants. If you get all your shopping done, they can have that item. If they have problems, it will be crossed off the list. Regardless of how well you plan, you always have to be prepared to walk out of the store without your groceries when you have kids. If you walk out, make sure they realize that you don’t have dinner groceries or their special item and you’ll have to do without for today. Dinner may have to be something like a plain sandwich with whatever is at home.


3.       Budgeting

Teaching a child to live within a budget can begin at a very early age. Talk about your budget while shopping. “We have money for cookies today, since It’s in our budget. We haven’t budgeted money for ice cream this week, but maybe next week. We can get 2 boxes of cereal with our budget this week.”  Make your child realize that if it’s not in the budget, we can’t have it.


4.       Books/Magazines

Did you know most grocery stores have a magazine/book section? Even better are the stores that have the bargain bin books. A new book/magazine can be added to the list and they can pick it out. If you don’t want to buy anything, just give them some time to look at the books.  Make sure you tell them whether you are buying any books each time.


5.       Give your child a shopping task

Giving your child a task while at the store can keep him busy. Have him try to find every letter of the alphabet while you’re shopping. Let him count everything that you put in the basket. (3 apples, 2 soup cans…) Have him identify different colors as you shop. (red apples, yellow squash, green lettuce)


6.       List making

Keep a grocery list on the counter and have your kids help create the list by writing or telling you what needs to be added. Sticking to the list can be a little harder for both you and your kids. If you want to allow your child to get something extra (candy, cookies,toy…) while at the store, make sure it’s on the list before you go in. If it’s not on the list, it can’t go in the cart. This one rule can stop a lot of bad store behaviors.


Here’s how one mom uses Tips & Tricks for Making Shopping Fun


My Story –

When I only had one kid, I thought it was hard to get groceries, but when I had 2 it seemed impossible.  I can’t count the number of times that I stopped the cart where it was and left the store. Of course, my time to shop was when we were all tired. I was just getting off work and they were just getting out of school. One solution that I came up with was to use my lunch time. I would go get all my non-perishables at lunch. Then, after I picked up the kids from school, I would go get the cold items.  This helped me a lot, since it shortened the time that we spent actually shopping.


How do you make grocery shopping a learning time?


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