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Ideas for grocery shopping with your kids

Taking your kids grocery shopping can be a great learning experience for them and get them excited about trying new foods. But it can also be a headache! Here are some tips on how to get your kids involved while decreasing stressful situations:

  • If you can, plan to go to the store with your child when you have plenty of time and the store is not crowded. 
  • Plan shopping trips when your child is not tired or hungry. Or bring a nutritious snack for them to eat during the shopping trip.
  • Discuss your rules before you enter a store. Remind your child to stay close to you. Also, set ground rules about what is acceptable to put in the cart. Discussing acceptable behavior before going into the store can save a lot of headache later on.
  • Give your child a job. For example, ask them to help pick out five oranges or three tomatoes. Or let them choose if you get apples or pears. Kids who help pick out fruits and vegetables are more likely to eat them. Older children may like to hold onto the grocery list and cross off the items as you put them in the cart.
  • Set positive limits. When your child does something you do not want them to do, instead of reacting with a negative limit, such as “don’t throw the oranges on the floor,” tell your child what is expected in a positive way, such as “keep the oranges in the bin.”
  • Make the shopping trip a learning experience. Keep kids entertained by asking them questions and having them search for items. Teach toddlers about touch by asking how different items feel, like the skin of an apple or if the milk is warm or cold. Teach preschoolers about colors by asking them to point out items of different colors like the green peas or the cereal in the yellow box. Have school-aged children look at the labels and compare items based on nutrition and unit pricing. 

What other tips can you share about shopping with kids?

Adapted from Spend Smart. Eat Smart.

child in grocery store
Girl with Asparagus at Grocery Store

How to Serve Berries

Here are a few ideas on how to serve berries:

  • Put some in a plastic container to eat as a snack or lunch on-the-go
  • Add to a bowl of whole grain cereal
  • Make a yogurt parfait with berries, yogurt and granola
  • Sprinkle on salads
  • Make fruit kabobs along with other fruits such as pineapple chunks (fresh or canned), bananas and grapes
  • Use as a topping for ice cream or frozen yogurt
  • Make smoothies

Adapted from Spend Smart. Eat Smart.

breakfast bowl with berries

Easy On-the-Go Breakfast Ideas

We keep hearing that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but many people still have trouble finding time in their busy mornings to eat a nutritious breakfast.

breakfast (banana, cereal, and milk)

Here are some quick grab and go ideas:

  • Whole fruit, like bananas, apples and oranges. (For an even faster option, keep peeled oranges in the refrigerator in plastic baggies)
  • Whole grains and peanut butter: spread 2 tablespoons of peanut butter on whole wheat bread, bagels, English muffins, or frozen waffles.
  • Low fat yogurt cups.
  • Fruit smoothies
  • Low sugar granola bars
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Leftovers: you don’t have to eat breakfast food for breakfast!

Planning ahead

Planning your meals ahead of time will actually save you time and money in the long-run, and help you stay on track with healthier food options.
meal plan chart
Here are some ways to plan ahead:

  • Plan as a family. Have family members suggest different healthy meals they want for the week.
  • Buy meat in bulk, then season, divide into portions and freeze. When prepping for a week’s worth of meals, place each entrée in a glass container, so you can easily identify its content at a moment’s notice.
  • Plan meals by using a checklist of proteins, fruits and veggies and side dishes of all the colors of the rainbow. This makes it much more fun and exciting when the kids actually choose to eat or try foods like purple eggplant or yellow squash blossoms.
  • Have a meal that you serve once every week.
  • On the weekends (or days when you have more time), make bigger meals or meals you can double to freeze such as lasagna or enchiladas, to reheat during the week
  • Be flexible! For some people, using a very precise menu for every day of the week works well, but some people actually find it more stressful to be tied into food that their family may or may not be excited about that day. Another option is to plan a loose guide of the proteins and general veggies for the week and make what sounds good in the moment.

What other ways do you like to plan ahead? Comment below!

Reduce Screen Time

There are a lot of great ways to help get your kids reduce their time in front of the television, computer or video games. Here are a few tips:

  • Talk to your family. Explain to your kids that it’s important to sit less and move more in order to be healthy. Tell them how they will feel better, have more energy, and help them develop and/or improve skills like riding a bike or shooting hoops. 
  • Log screen time vs active time. Start tracking how much time your family spends in front of a screen, including things like TV and DVD watching, playing video games, or playing games on a smart phone. Then take a look at how much physical activity your family gets. That way you can get a sense of what changes need to be made.
  • Make screen time = active time. When you do spend time in front of a screen, do something active. Stretch, lift weights, or walk in place. Or, challenge the family to see who can do the most push ups, jumping jacks or leg lifts during TV commercial breaks.
  • Set screen time limits. Create a house rule that limits screen time to two hours every day. More importantly, enforce the rule.
  • Make meal time = family time. Turn off the TV during meal times. Family meals are a great time to talk to each other.
  • Provide other options. Watching TV can become a habit, which makes it easy to forget what else is out there to do. Give your kids ideas such as playing outside, getting a new hobby, or learning a sport.
  • Don’t use TV time as a reward or punishment. This makes TV seem even more important to children.

Adapted from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. US Department of Health and Human Services.  

child watching TV

© 2024 North Carolina Cooperative Extension
Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP)

North Carolina State University
Agricultural and Human Sciences Department

Cooperative Extension at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES)