7 Tips for Shopping with Kids


When you hear about kids in a grocery store, what do you think of?

Little ones fussing for naptime? Or your four–year-old throwing a tantrum in the candy aisle?

But what if shopping for groceries could be more than manageable with a couple of young helpers—what if it could be something everyone looked forward to?

Try a few of these expert tips to turn your grocery shopping experience around!

1. Chart your trip.

Many super centers offer apps that allow you to search items and see ahead of time where they’re located in the store.

That means with a little planning—whether on paper, or in an app—you can easily get into a shopping routine that’s faster for everyone.

Before you head to the store, group your groceries together by the aisles where they’re located. This cuts out your back and forth trips around the store, and keeps you from forgetting something you need!

2. Get everyone involved.

Did you know children influence 80% of household purchases? Their spending has doubled every ten years for the last three decades, and climaxed at a total of 1.2 trillion dollars in 2012.

Young girl hanging on a shopping cart while scouting the food aisle.

So plan to be the influencer at the store instead of being influenced. Use the trip as a teachable experience for your children. You can do this by giving everyone a part in the trip!

Give them their own job on your terms—coupons to hold or specific groceries to choose. Have little ones count the fruits and vegetables that go into a bag in the produce section.

Or make a game out of it, and include yourself! Time the whole “team” and see if you can beat an old record getting in and out of the store together.

3. Germ–proof your shopping cart.

Guess which one of these items carries the most germs:

  • Playground equipment
  • An escalator handrail
  • A shopping cart
  • A diaper changing table

You guessed it—a shopping cart carries the most germs.

Why? Because they aren’t regularly cleaned—or really cleaned at all. Ever. In fact, according to a study conducted by Saint Louis University, your average shopping cart contains about 13,800 bacteria per square inch.

Maybe that makes you feel like you’re taking your children into a GERM mine when grocery shopping. But hey, now you know—so you can do something about it.

Bring along hand sanitizer. Have the kids wash their hands back at home. Or try this easy idea: cover the handle bar with a pool noodle for teething mouths.

4. Do a hand check.

Find “connection points” for the kids throughout your grocery trip. Try telling them to keep one hand on the shopping cart, or have them all touch the car door while you unload the groceries in the parking lot.

This is for YOUR peace of mind—and it helps you focus on what you need while herding one, two, twelve little pairs of feet around the store at the same time.

5. Eat before you go.

It turns out that shopping on an empty stomach really can empty out your wallet faster.

But research from a large department store also showed that hungry customers not only bought more food, but more of everything in general.

So think of a snack as a money saver and meltdown prevention for your child. Plan for a quick bite before you head out the door, or take one on the go!

6. Buy a treat.

You have to say “no” a lot to children in a grocery store sometimes.

No, don’t touch that.
Sorry, you can’t have that.
No, you do not raise your voice, and do not ride on that part of the shopping cart.

Try giving a few privileges for a change.

Thank them for the parts of the trip they helped out with. Let them each pick out a treat during a grocery shopping trip and look forward to eating it together when they get home.

7. Speed up your loading time.

So you got through another grocery adventure with the kiddos—go you! And you’re wiped out (and so is your six-month-old).

Make loading up a smoother experience by parking near a shopping cart return. This way, you can get out of that parking lot ASAP.

Also, try keeping a laundry basket in the trunk. When you’re getting kids out of car seats at home and grabbing left–behind toys, the last thing you need is three trips back and forth to the van. Put your grocery bags right into a laundry basket for easier unloading as you wrap up your grocery experience!

Family Consumer Science

High school juniors and seniors learn budgeting skills and more through our Family and Consumer Sciences elective.


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