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Tips for shopping with kids

Despite what you might think, it really is possible to shop with kids and not go nuts. To paraphrase Honest Abe, “You can do it with all kids some of the time, some kids all of the time, but not all kids all of the time.” Here are a few tricks to maintain your sanity while shopping with kids.


1. Shop when the kids aren’t starvinG

If they are hungry when you arrive, go to the deli counter and ask for samples of sliced meats and cheeses (most grocery store deli counters have a “try before you buy” policy).

2. Agree on one treat per shopping trip

“You want fruit leathers? Granola bars? Fine. But one, not both.”

3. Make rules before you get to the store

Stick to the rule that there’ll be no new cereal bought until the old one almost gone. Also, check the labels. If there’s too much sugar, a cereal is automatically disqualified from being purchased. Have a set limit and let them read the labels themselves. The kids may not always agree to “naked” Cheerios (no honey nut flavoring, etc.), but they’ll learn that big sugar cereals are out of the question.

4. My kids frequently get to choose the vegetables and fruit

This means we eat a lot of broccoli, bananas, melon, grapes, and strawberries, but that’s okay. When they choose it, they’re more likely to eat it!

5. When kids help make the shopping list, they stay on track at the market

Give each child an item that they’re in charge of finding without your help.

6. Don’t always go to the same market, it gets boring for the kids

We try to go to farmers’ markets whenever possible. Not only is there a lot of wonderful produce to look at (and to buy!), but it’s got far fewer junk food distractions. I’d much rather buy the kids in-season cherries or a package of sweet peas that they can pop into their mouths as a snack than a chocolate-covered graham cracker.

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