Grocery Shopping With Kids
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
This is one of the activities that I end up doing almost every week with my kids. Making grocery shopping into a fun activity is a good way to get your kids out of the house on a weekly basis.
Going to the store is an activity that you have to do. As a parent, you’re going to have to buy food for your kids as well. Depending on how busy you are, this may mean that your kids are coming with you to the store. If you have the luxury of both parents going to the store, then this is a much easier task to accomplish. If you’re headed to the store with you and more than one child, it can be chaotic.
Back when my wife started going to school again, we found that she ends up being very busy in the evenings and weekends with homework. As such, I generally had the opportunity to go with my two kids, by myself, to the store each week. While she has since finished school, we've continued our weekly adventures with the kids and me. Below are a few tips for making a trip to the store a fun time.
Go at off hours to the grocery store
Each store is a bit different as to when it’s peak days and hours are, so you’re going to have to figure that out. Saturday’s are generally the worst in our area, but sometimes they’re alright. Our favorite time to go to Costco is Friday evening. It’s usually pretty empty in the store, especially after 6PM. Of course, you’ll miss the free samples going at this hour, but my kids don’t mind too much since we’ve just eaten dinner when we come at this time.
Avoiding the major crowds allows you to keep a little sanity and worry less about your kids getting in the way. It will simply allow you to have a much lower stress level with your kids.
Find the carts for kids at the grocery store
A lot of stores have special carts for kids. If you’re there at peak hours, it’s going to be hard to find them. These carts come in different variations, but they usually have a place for kids to sit in front of the cart (like a car) or the main sitting area of the cart has a special build out for kids. There are a couple of downsides to these carts: they are often hard to steer, and your kids may not want to sit in them. If you can get over these two issues, then these carts are a great option.
A less common cart is simply a smaller cart that kids can use to push and place things in. These are my favorite when they’re available. Unfortunately, they’re very uncommon, and some of the stores that we go to regularly no longer have them available. My kids love to help out and put our groceries in their own cart. If you can find these, try them out with your kids.
Find the free fruit or samples at the supermarket
Free samples disappeared with the coronavirus pandemic, but they've slowly made their way back. Costco has free samples throughout the day, but they’re often during the higher peak hours. Every now and then we’ll be at the store and they’re available, but it’s rare that we see them. My kids love trying different items and will try most anything at the store, while at home refuse to touch the item they seemed to love at the store. It gives them a fun way to get distracted and actually stay a bit calmer at the store.
In our area, we also regularly visit Kroger stores, and they started to stock fruit off to the side of one of the fruit stands that was meant just for kids. We always grab a piece of fruit for both kids when we get in the store. If your store offers this, definitely take advantage.
Let them help you at the grocery store
Letting your kids help out and walk around will take some practice, especially with younger children. My 2-year old (now 4 year old) toddler has become pretty good at walking around with us at this point and staying up. He likes to stop at the candy of course, and I always have to go back for him, but letting him walk around and help out by putting items in the cart is a great way for him to feel like he’s really helping, and wears him out a lot more than if he was sitting in the cart the whole time.
You’ll have to pay close attention to your children by letting them walk around the store, and some children may not be mature enough to do so. You may have to deal with a bit of a tantrum at times, so just be prepared to help your child through it.
Get them in a regular routine of going to the supermarket with you
My kids absolutely love going to the store at this point. They are excited for our store nights, and run to the car when I say that we’re headed out. They know when we go to the store, they know which stores we go to, and they know how they’ll be helping out. This has come after many months of taking them to the store on a consistent basis - it’s not something that happened on our first visit. Getting kids in a regular routine as to when and where you go to the store will help them to be better behaved.
Don’t worry, your children will have breakdowns, won’t be perfect, and will require more attention than you may want. However, that’s the case with most any activity with children. The store should be a place that your kids learn how to help buy necessary household items, and learn how to control themselves.