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

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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)

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