How to make the most out of a trip to the grocery store with your kids
Every busy parent knows the experience of having to take your kids with you to run errands. Whether it’s a matter of saving time or saving the cost of a babysitter, sometimes your young sidekicks must come along. But a trip to run an errand like getting groceries doesn’t have to be a burden. In fact, there are lots of ways to make a trip to the grocery store productive for you and educational for your child at the same time. And if you can do two things in the same trip, why not try it? Here’s how to make the most out of a trip to the grocery store with your kids, no matter how young or old they are.
If your child is between 3 and 5, practice counting and colours.
Play the biggest game of ‘I spy’ in the fruit and vegetable aisle! You can make the trip fun for your child by asking them to identify the colour of the items on your shopping list, and trying to have them find those coloured items in the store. You can advance this colour search by saying, “We need cheese for taco dinner at home, can you see where the cheese is?” and explaining why cheese sometimes comes in different colours and what that means for how it tastes. Once they find the food item from your list, ask them to count how many of the item you need. Your child can even keep counting the items in your grocery cart, thereby learning the beginnings of addition each time you add something to the cart.
Learning to read doesn’t have to be kept to the pages of books, you can encourage your child to start reading the shopping list to you while you pick the items up to put in your basket or cart. Or if you want to switch roles, you can sound out the word on the grocery list, maybe even show the word to your child, and ask them to find the item that matches that word on the shelves. If you want to progress even further in your educational time in the grocery store, try asking your child what ingredients they think are in the meals your family will be preparing at home. For example, “It’s Taco Tuesday, what do you think we need to pick up to make tacos at home?” would be a good way to start to get your kids to identify the food they eat and the ingredients that go into larger meals.
If your child is between 9 and 11, practice learning about portions and price comparisons.
A far step from basic counting skills, why not have your child try their hand at comparing prices. Under the guiding principle that the family likely wants to put the food in the basket that is more cost-effective and lower in cost, you can ask your child to compare an item like poultry or pasta and see which one they think would be more money-friendly to buy. Within reason, you can also take the opportunity to explain to your children why you choose the food you do, especially if sometimes you go for the more expensive option. On the way to teaching your kids about meal preparation, you can also ask them to select how much of an item is needed to feed all the members of your family – “How many taco shells do we need to buy if everyone in the family will eat two tacos at dinner tonight?”.
Including your child in the process of grocery shopping makes them feel like they have contributed to the process of meal preparation and cooking at home. They will also enjoy the feeling of helping their parents who do so much for them day in and day out. Make extra time to spend in the grocery store, because you never know how many ways you can find to make the experience plentiful in learning.