Teaching Kids Life Skills: Food Shopping
There are a lot of life skills for teens that you can work on when food shopping.
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!
Oh yes, this is so important. I remember the first time I sent one of my kids over a couple aisles in the store to get a gallon of milk, he came back with the most expensive organic milk they carried! I didn’t notice until we were checking out. Needless to say, I am now careful to be specific when I ask my kids to get something 🙂
I’d love it if you link this post up a Family Fun Friday happening now over on my blog. Thanks!
I’ve been in the same exact position Sarah! My kids love to run and get stuff and I’m always worried about what they’ll come back with. I’ve learned that it’s not just about teaching them the basic skills, but also the reasons behind them. I try to explain why I buy certain products and brands instead of others. But sometimes I just want to get out of the store and no teaching gets done! That’s when I’m happy I have so many years with them.
We went and linked up this post and our money management post. I LOVE your Friday link up!!
Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
I love these tips! My daughter loves to be in charge of the grocery list. 🙂
Thank you Angela! That is always a favorite of my girls too. Personally I think they just like to boss us all around LOL! Thank you for stopping by.
Hi! I’m stopping over from the SITs “tribe.” I LOVE shopping with my kids since we started homeschooling (assuming they are rested and not hungry and miserable when we get to the store). My 4th grader spends the whole time pointing stuff out to her brother. “The carrots are orange!” “How many fish are in the tank?” It’s so much fun to watch them grow together in that way.
I am looking forward to exploring your blog further and getting to know you better! 🙂
Hi Elizabeth. I’m so glad you stopped by. I’m looking forward to getting to know you via our tribe challenges.
That is so wonderful that your daughter spends so much of her time shopping teaching her brother! That’s what homeschooling is all about in my book. I know what you mean about enjoying shopping with them as long as they’re full and rested. It can be such a nightmare if they’re not – completely speaking from experience!!
I’ve been involving my youngest in the shopping list more. It’s great math practice!
That’s great Adrienne! My youngest hates grocery shopping, but is much more pleasant when she has control of the list. I love doing mental math activities at the store. There’s so much to choose from! Thanks so much for stopping by.
Great tips! It really does make the experience better if the children are involved. I am looking forward to reading the other posts in your life skills series.
I’m following you on bloglovin and am part of the tribe.
Thank you Latonya! We had so much fun writing the series and it really seems to be resonating with moms. I just popped over to your site too! I’m looking forward to seeing more of your site.
I use many of these tips to shop with my 5 kids. This past year I started giving one of my boys our list on a clipboard. He then tracks how much money we are spending. We’ve turned it into a game – How Close Can You Get. One week he was within 30 cents of the register total. I’ve seen math skills improve greatly. Thanks for sharing via Family Fun Friday.
What a fun game! I’m definitely going to have to add that to my routine. I know my oldest would enjoy doing something like that. It’s great that you’ve found a way to improve everyday math within a real life application. I love Family Fun Friday!
Wonderful Ideas! Pinned and am featuring at Family Fun Friday!
It goes live Thursday afternoon: http://www.happyandblessedhome.com/2014/01/family-fun-friday-week-53.html
Thank you Monica! I love Family Fun Friday – there’s always a ton of great ideas!
Very helpful information for my children. Thank you so much
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