Grocery shopping can be an amazing opportunity to find, touch, and smell food without the pressure of having it on a plate. Getting kids involved in the shopping process can help them become more familiar with different foods and give them the autonomy to make decisions. This will help with food acceptance and ultimately encourage them to be a better eater!
Here are my top strategies to make shopping as painless as possible
Make sure they are fed first. And that you’re fed. Grocery shopping takes patience from everyone and you want to minimize the whining that comes with hunger.
Avoid shopping when kids are sick or tired, as this is almost a guarantee for meltdowns.
Choose a store that offers fresh fruit as a snack, it helps keep them busy. Especially fresh apples, it takes them ages to eat and buys you time uninterrupted.
Be organized. Have a shopping list and section it into 4 quadrants. Three of these are generally around the perimeter (Fruit/Veg, Dairy/Alternative, Meat/Alternative, and inside aisles for grains, starches, spices, miscellaneous). Work off the list and have a plan so you don’t need to backtrack.
Choose a time of day the store will be QUIET, I like early mornings (we are up anyways!) at 8:30-9am.This will lead to a less stressful experience for everyone.
Don’t choose a store that makes you bag your own groceries, you will thank me when your kids are running around at the check out stand.
Give them a checklist with foods to find.
Let them choose. I find this the most helpful in the produce aisle.
- Find the mushrooms and count 10 of them
- Smell the pineapples and let me know which smells the best
- Choose the best looking cucumber
- Find the green apples and put 4 in the basket
Give yourself time. Don’t shop with kids when you are in a rush. Or plan a massive shop with them, no one will have fun.
Nip the “I wants” in the butt. “I want cookies, I want candies, I want a toy…” list goes on. Usually I nip this with, “oh that’s a good idea to put on your birthday list, did you want me to take a picture so I don’t forget”. Or if it isn’t something you would ever buy, you can say “that’s not something our family eats”, which will follow with your kid saying “but Jimmy has it in his lunch” and the response “every family has different rules.”
I’m also not forgetting bribery: This is a tried and true strategy. We use a store that has balloons and a horsey ride at the end.