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Why Every Parent Should Take Their Children Grocery Shopping

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Why Every Parent Should Take Their Children Grocery Shopping

Whether you are the type of parent who loves going to the store or one who dreads it, we all know that as parents, grocery shopping is almost unavoidable.

Since grocery shopping is so essential to most families, why not take your kids with you? 

Grocery shopping benefits your children because it allows them to learn about nutrition and food through hands-on experience. (1) Children learn at the grocery store by smelling, looking, touching, and asking about specific foods. (2) Children who are involved in the shopping process are also more likely to eat and help prepare the food at home. (3) It is a win-win situation for both you as the parent and your children.

10 Benefits to Grocery Shopping with Your Children

Grocery shopping offers numerous learning opportunities for children, both at the store and after at home. Throughout the experience, children: 

While at the store 

  • Learn about different types of fruits and vegetables when they can see and touch them in the store (2)
  • Realize how much variety and how many items there are in a grocery store
  • Learn about the nutritional value and the healthfulness of the items your family eats
  • Expand their vocabulary by learning about new food items and store objects (1)
  • Learn the cost associated with specific foods
  • Practice math skills by counting items or adding up the cost (4)
  • Work on communication and task-management skills 

At home

  • Want to try new flavors and foods once they get home (3)
  • Will be more excited to help prepare the food at home since they helped shop (3)
  • Feel empowered to make their own healthy lifestyle choices while on their own and later in life

10 Ways to Get Children Involved While Grocery Shopping

To create an engaging and thoughtful shopping experience for your children, consider these activities:

Before going to the store

  • Have them help you take inventory of your kitchen 
  • Allow them to help create a grocery list. Ask them what type of vegetables and fruit they would like to buy. Let them select a recipe they would like to shop for. (4)

While at the store 

  • Have them hold the list and cross off items as you put them in the cart
  • Let children pick out a vegetable they want to try at home (3)
  • Let them place the fruits and vegetables in produce bags 
  • Encourage children to name fruits and vegetables (4)
  • Point out foods that are new to your child and ask them to describe the color, shape, and texture (4)
  • Have them locate the items in the store 
  • Let children weigh the items and report the measurements
  • Ask your kids to help bag items at the registry

10 Tips for Parents While Shopping with kids

As most parents know, grocery shopping with children can be challenging at times. Follow these tips for a more successful trip to the store: 

  • Find out if and when your local grocery store offers samples. Your children will likely be excited about the samples and want to try new foods
  • Ask the store if they provide any nutrition educational handouts for children
  • Show enthusiasm and remain optimistic when shopping; your children will likely mimic this behavior
  • Set expectations by letting children know what types and how much food you are buying. For example, let children know you will not be buying a lot of snack foods, or you will only be buying vegetables today
  • Children may sometimes ask for products that are high in refined carbohydrates, excess sugar, and saturated fats. To avoid this, allow them one or two snacks of their choice.  Be patient. Grocery shopping with your kids may take longer than your regular shopping routine 
  • It is best to go to the store when children are well-rested and already fed
  • If your schedule allows, go during off-peak times 
  • Plan by letting children know what they are responsible for, such as picking out the vegetables or bagging the items
  • Allocate plenty of time, so you do not feel rushed and to allow children to take full advantage of the learning experience
  1. O’Dougherty M, Story M, Stang J. Observations of Parent-Child Co-shoppers in Supermarkets: Children’s involvement in Food selections, Parental Yielding, and Refusal Strategies. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2006;38(3),183-188. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneb.2005.11.034
  2. Pattersson A, Olsson U, Fjellstrom C. Family Life in Grocery Stores- a study of interaction between adults and children. Int J Consum. 2004; 317-328. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1470-6431.2004.00389.x
  3. Wolfman T. Tips to Help Kids Enjoy Fruits and Veggies. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.https://www.eatright.org/food/planning-and-prep/snack-and-meal-ideas/get-fruits-and-veggies-to-the-plate. Published May 16, 2018.
  4. Fontenot B. Explore Produce with Kids. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/dietary-guidelines-and-myplate/explore-produce-with-kids. Published May 23, 2019

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About the Author

Rebecca Berg

Rebecca Berg

Rebecca Berg is an M.S. nutrition and public health candidate at Teachers College, Columbia University. Additionally, Rebecca works for Healthie, an all in one practice management and telehealth platform for dieticians in private practice. Outside of school and work, Rebecca is training for her first marathon and is an avid traveler.

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