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How to survive a trip to the grocery store when you have young kids

Shopping tips Just for parents

Buying groceries is one of constant task for moms, and we often lack anyone at home to watch our baby or toddler. Trips to the store can turn into a huge headache if your kids are in tow and are grabbing every box of cookies they see and complaining about everything you put into the cart!

Shopping with kids is rarely fun -- but it's always an adventure. For instance, if you are like my sister-in-law Karen, you will watch in dismay as your 1-year-old son reaches behind him and promptly hurls a dozen eggs on the supermarket floor! Plus, you are likely to get comments from older women as you shop, discretely critical of the commotion or unhappiness they see transpiring. If they get too restless, disaster can strike, and they'll throw a tantrum.

Savvy shopping advice for parents

Here are some tips to avoid this and making your trip to the grocery store a lot more pleasant:

  • Shop at non-peak hours

  • To make your shopping experience more efficient, organize your grocery list by aisle. Arrange your list into categories, such as fruits, vegetables, cereals, canned goods, dairy, and health and beauty products.

  • Before you leave for the store, clear off your counters to make space for incoming groceries.

  • Feed your child before you take him so he'll be less likely to crave the sweets he sees in the store. Make your toddler a cereal necklace out of oat rings and string to eat in the store. Bring a snack with you, just in case.

  • Start in the produce aisle and give your child a piece of fruit to eat so he doesn't ask for candy or cookies.

  • Allow your child to pick one treat per trip, or agree to spend a certain amount of money on treats in the store. It helps keep your child from begging when he knows ahead of time what he can expect.

For an infant or toddler:

  • If you don't find a safety belt on your grocery store shopping cart, use a fanny pack and adjust the straps to fit snugly around your child's waist and the cart. You can also use your belt as a makeshift seatbelt.

  • Bring your child in a backpack, which gives a great vantage point, keeps your hands free, and makes it difficult for him to grab items from the shelves.

  • Bring stroller toys and attach them to the cart so you won't have to dart to pick up dropped or thrown toys in a crowded aisle.

  • To keep your child from picking up germs when he mouths the handle of your shopping cart, wrap a cloth around the handle.

  • Your preschooler or elementary school age child can help you clip coupons or find specific items for which you have coupons, using the picture as a guide.

  • Your toddler can also "help" by taking non-breakables off the shelf and putting them in the cart. Let him pull the number at the deli counter and try any samples they may have.

  • Help bag your own groceries so you can group items by where they belong in your home

  • When you get home, you can put away the frozen and refrigerated items and get the rest later if your child needs your attention or you need to start making a meal.

  • One last tip: when unpacking, put the freshest items in the back of the fridge to make sure the others with earlier expiration dates get used up first.

Get more grocery shopping tips and tricks:

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