As adults, food shopping is not an activity that we give a lot of thought to. It’s something we just know how to do. But we aren’t born knowing how to shop for our weekly groceries. It’s a life skill that is taught and learned.
To be honest, if I had a free hour in my day, I would not choose to shop for food. For me, it’s a necessity, not a pleasure trip.
However, I know that if I want my children to be able to eat after they move out on their own (which I do), then I need to teach them how to shop for food.
From the time they were very young, I’ve given my kids tasks while shopping. At first I did it to save my sanity, because most of my shopping trips lasted longer than my kids’ patience. Now that they are older, I use the trips as an opportunity to teach them various skills.
Grocery Shopping with Younger Kids
Give Them Tasks to Do
When children are busy, they are less likely to get bored. Younger children LOVE to feel like they are being helpful.
One of the first tasks I gave the girls when we were shopping was to grab the items we needed off of the shelf and put them in the cart. I let them know that I couldn’t get it done without them!
When they started to read, I would often give one child control of the shopping list. She read out what we were looking for and crossed it off when it was placed in the cart.
When I started using a grocery app on my phone, my kids really enjoyed checking off the items.
Keep it Fun
Let’s face it, most children don’t love to go grocery shopping. Try to keep your trips short when shopping with your kids. Let them pick out a special food for the week. Play silly word games as you move along the aisles.
Keeping them engaged will go a long way toward their attitudes about food shopping as they get older.
What Skills Older Kids can Learn while Shopping for Food
Give your child one night a week to be responsible for a family dinner. Have them plan the menu and work with them as they shop for all of the ingredients they will need.
Once they have mastered that, give them a set budget for the meal and teach them how to stick to it. Will they have to modify the recipe? Will they have to make sure they buy sale items or store brands?
Grocery stores are wonderful places to work on mental math skills with your kids. Unit price, budgets, price per pound, and sale prices are some of the math skills you can talk about as you are shopping.
Are there certain brands that you trust? Does your family regularly choose store brands over name brands? Do you use coupons? When is it better to choose a larger size container than what your recipe calls for?
These are all things that we don’t even think about anymore after years of practice. Take the opportunity to teach your child why you make the decisions you do when shopping.
Do your children understand what makes a balanced diet or why you choose the foods that you do to feed them?
A grocery store is an excellent place to discuss nutrition.
Have you been following along this week as we’ve been talking about teaching life skills to our kids?
We’ll be tackling a lot more of these topics this year, so make sure you sign up to get our latest posts directly into your inbox so you don’t miss anything!