We’ve all seen it: the exasperated mother in the checkout line with a shopping cart piled to the brim, trying to calm her crying baby (who’s teething) and hungry preschooler (who’s reaching for candy) while attempting to keep her cool all at the same time.

Maybe if you’re like me you’ve been in this situation at one time or another and wondered how you can make things different the next time around.

I really believe it is possible to have a successful trip to the store without caving into your child’s requests or completely going crazy!

As a mom of three {update: four!} little ones under 8, I’m learning how to effectively grocery shop with young children. Let me share with you some things that have worked for me!

5 Tips for Grocery Shopping with Kids

tips for grocery shopping with kids

1) Feed Them First

We probably all know that bringing hungry children to a store with aisles and aisles of food is a recipe for disaster! Keep some healthy snacks that don’t need refrigeration stashed in your car for such an occasion.

This is especially helpful if you are picking your children up from daycare or school right before your grocery run.

If it’s not too messy, I bring the snack in for my kids to eat while they shop. I have a friend who packs her son’s lunch ahead of time and he eats it while she shops.

Sometimes, I’ll also reward my kids with a special treat, like the free cookie from the bakery if they behave well (I’m not beyond a little bribery when making a long journey through Target).

2) Establish Rules Before You Go to the Store

Before you even go into the store, let your kiddos know what shopping rules you’ve established. You may want your kids to keep one hand on the cart at all times or hold hands with each other as they cross the street. Make it clear whether or not you will be allowing them to pick out a treat and hold firm.

Here’s how you can parent with grace when your child is acting up in public.

If we are in the store and my kids mention they want a certain toy, I tell them to keep it in mind for Christmas or their birthday. Sometimes they will remember what it was and have me write it down, but often they decide they didn’t want it that much anyway! Having trouble with obedience? Read my tip for one simple way to encourage obedience in your child.

3) Give Them a Grocery List

I find it helpful to give my children a list of items that we need in picture form so they can be a part of the shopping experience. My 3-year-old daughter loves her clip-art photos of bananas, carrots, cereal, and other foods. She loves to show me what she knows and is excited to point them out on the shelf.

Here’s a fun printable your kids can use to look for different groceries!

Having identifying words next to the pictures is fun for my six-year-old son who reads them off to me as we shop. For toddlers, you could use a spiral notebook and a sheet of stickers to keep little hands busy!

4) Make Your Child an Active Participant

If we forget our kid lists at home, I try to make it fun for my children by asking them questions as we stroll the aisles. “Do you see any yellow fruits?” “Can you find the letter B?” “Can you find the aisle sign with the word ‘bread’ on it?” My kids also like to help put the groceries on the conveyor belt during checkout.

Keep it fun and light!

5) Leave the Kids at Home

This obviously isn’t a tip about shopping with kids but rather shopping without them. Now that I have three four children (including a busy toddler), I have found that it is much easier to match up coupons and shop sales when I am alone! Swap babysitting duties with another mom or go on your hubby’s day off if you can.

Also, now that there are grocery shopping services, you may want to make use of that too, especially if you have a new baby!

How do you make shopping with your kids a more calm experience?


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14 Comments on How to Grocery Shop with Kids (and Not Go Crazy)

  1. If you have a SAMs club in your area, you can shop online, order the groceries, they pull them for you, and you can just walk in, pay, and load them up! That’s how I shop with 4 boys age 6 and under! We still visit the meat dept and pick out our produce, but click and pull makes the trip much shorter!

  2. We always have to stop by the bakery for the free cookie for the kids! It gets me all the way through the produce and deli section with that bribe then the rest of the store while they munch away. But the key is feed/change the baby right before going and bring lots of snacks for the toddler! Too cute to read I am not the only one who needs a ‘game plan’!

    • Oh, yes, we love the free cookie at the bakery too! Good idea to feed and change the baby before going. Thanks for commenting!

  3. Our decent grocery store is 45 minutes away… and we ALL go- the four kids, hubby, and myself! It’s definitely a challenge! Thanks for all your tips!

    • I hear you! Our decent grocery store is 30 miles from home…sometimes I get away by myself but not much! Good for you for taking the whole crew :)

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