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.
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.
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.
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.
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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