7 tips for doing food shopping with toddlers

I hear a lot of people saying how they dread doing the food shop with their children and how they avoid it at all costs. So I wanted to share some of my tips to make the weekly food shop a little less stressful when going with toddlers. Day to day chores used to take time away from my children and made me stressed as I tried to get everything done each day. So I began including my children in the day to day running of the house, meaning I’m not as stressed, I have little helpers and I get to spend quality time with my children while doing mundane tasks. Now I actually enjoy doing the food shop with my little ones and use it as a little outing we can do together. So here are my 7 tips to make the weekly food shop with toddlers that little bit easier.

7 tips for doing the food shop with toddlers


1. Counting fruit and veg

We use the weekly food shop to learn about colours, different foods and numbers. A lot of what we eat is plant based, so we spend a majority of out time doing the weekly food shop in the fruit and veg aisle. I’ll ask the boys to get me things we eat every day like raspberries or blueberries to put in the trolley. With Bear because he is now three, I ask him to check them to make sure they aren’t damaged and are ripe before he puts them in. With loose fruit and veg like carrots, tomatoes, sweet potato and avocado, we count them as we put them into the bags. As we walk around I also tell them to look for yellow bananas and green broccoli to put in the trolley, so that they start recognising colours.

7 tips for doing the food shop with toddlers


2. Take advantage of the free fruit

A lot of supermarkets now offer children a piece of fruit while a parent does the food shop. After we finish getting our fruit and veg, I give the boys a piece of this free fruit to keep them entertained while I get the meat and dairy products.


3. Get fish from the fishmonger

We only have fish once or twice a week, but we always make a point of getting it fresh from the fishmonger. Not only is it cheaper to get the exact amount of fish I need and better for the environment by reducing waste, but the boys also love looking at everything at the counter and find it fascinating. We point out the tails, eyes and talk about the different types of shellfish while we wait.

7 tips for doing the food shop with toddlers


4. Let them choose

Depending on what is running low in the house, I let the boys choose things they would like in the cupboard. Bear always helps with what bread or rolls he would like and they take it turns to pick cereal. Whenever we have people coming over, I let them choose the cakes or biscuits to put out as well. In all of our local supermarkets the toiletries are at the back of the shop and the last thing on our shopping list. The children are always getting a bit restless by the end of the food shop, so I let them pick out what toothpaste / bubble bath / bathroom hand wash they want. It is usually something I was going to get anyway and it keeps them from running awol on the last leg.

7 tips for doing the food shop with toddlers


5. Provide snacks

Halfway round the food shop, the kids get a bit tetchy and the free fruit is well and truly gone. So I always carry a stash of raisins with me to dish out and keep them from running riot for another ten minutes.


6. Get them to help pack

I try to choose a checkout that has someone in front with a fair bit of shopping. This gives quite a lot of time to empty the trolley, meaning both of the little ones can help me. Bear loves taking things out of the trolley to put onto the counter and Monkey doesn’t like being left out so helps too. At the other end I give Monkey another snack (bribery is often needed in parenting) and Bear gets given a bag to fill with things I pass to him.


7. Positive reinforcement

If the boys have been really good during the food shop and we have avoided tantrums, I always tell them how helpful they have been and make a point of doing something really fun afterwards. Sometimes that will be a trip to the park or café, an extra 15 minutes watching Paw Patrol or a go on the rides outside of the supermarket. I personally find that positive reinforcement is a great way of encouraging the boys to be well behaved and makes it more likely that they will be helpful on our next food shop.


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7 tips for doing the food shop with toddlers


Do you take your children on the food shop? Have you got any tips that I haven’t mentioned? Let me know in the comments, on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also follow me on Pinterest.

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43 thoughts on “7 tips for doing food shopping with toddlers

  1. Love these ideas and so many opportunities to learn too! I have to say with a toddler and newborn I have been doing all our food shopping online, but I love wandering around the shop so will hopefully make a trip soon 🙂

  2. Agree on the helping front! The more my daughter thinks she is a major part in the process (I.e picking things off shelves, scanning the items etc) the better behaved she is and the less bored she gets! So important when I have both of them!

    1. Oh absolutely. Some story have those portable scanners now, which make it so much easier. Bear loves doing to food shop when he can scan things as he goes around.

  3. Yay! I am so pleased that you’ve encouraged yours to join you in the food shop experience. As a food writer I think it’s so important as this is the start of cooking. My boys are fab cooks because they know what’s available because I would do exactly what you’ve written about in your lovely post . Another yay!

    1. Oh absolutely. I think it is important to encourage a healthy relationship with food from an early age and including them in things like the food shop is a great place to start.

  4. Great tips. I tried to avoid taking my 3 year old shopping with me but if i have to I ask her to help me out as we go along. We usually do the scan and pack and she loves holding the little scanner thing and scanning everything before we put the item in the bag. X

  5. When I just had one child we went to the shop every week but having 2 and then 3 made it too stressful! We did go out together this week but went early in the day so there weer few people around. I let the children put everything through the self service till and they loved it!

  6. I really love this post. I always take my toddler food shopping and its actually started to become a really fun thing for us to do. Evie always helps me with the list, with putting things in the trolley, spotting things, describing them and helping me pack. I love this list! Some really great tips and some I’m going to be using on our next shop. xx

    1. It can be so difficult and like you need more arms sometimes, but I love involving them. It definitely makes it an easier task when they feel included.

  7. I think that taking children food shopping is a great idea. I had no idea that supermarkets offer children free fruit, what a great way of getting more fruit and veg into their diet! x

  8. They are brilliant tips for getting children involved in the weekly shop. I always let BattleKid put things into the trolley to help me and he then helps by putting things on the belt.

  9. Great tips here, I am lucky that I don’t have to take mine now as I can do it whilst they are at all school. However during school holidays I can’t get away with it! I will implement some of these tips

    1. I think the free fruit is such a great initiative and really helps introduce more fruit into children’s diets, while making it easier for parents to do their food shop.

    1. It is quite fun going as a family, we always try to race round and make it into a challenge as to which team can get the most in the trolley!

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