Grocery Shopping…With Kids

For those of you who are new to the blog, Anna and I dedicate one week a month to a theme such as sleep training, organization, or laundry. This week we’re tackling the subject of grocery shopping with kids!

shopping cartI’ve noticed that I get more “I-don’t-know-how-you-do-it” comments in the grocery store than in any other place I go with kids. Have you found this to be the case, too?  Back when I just had one kid, grocery shopping was a nightmare for me. I could no longer just run in and out of a few stores at a time, and I had to deal with countless temper tantrums.  If you’re at that stage, wondering how in the world you can add another kid into an already-crazy experience, take heart!  It gets easier.  Shopping with four is actually not that much more stressful, now that I’m more experienced and have a predictable routine in place.

We mainly stick to two familiar grocery stores that are small and manageable, so we can be in and out in under half an hour. I wear the baby on me and keep the toddler in the cart. Now that I have two big kids running around outside the cart, there is the potential for silliness and misbehavior if I am not fast. My trips with the kids are not time to browse or price-check. I try to involve them in picking out produce, and I grab the other supplies and get out. I have had to leave a cart and go out to the car and administer discipline enough times for misbehavior that the kids usually remember I’m serious about staying calm in the store.

Grocery shopping is a trip in itself—I no longer combine it with other errands when I have all four sidekicks with me. If I need to make a trip to Target or the post office or the drugstore, I usually do it at a different time. This feels inefficient, but I’ve learned my kids’ limits. My husband or I will go out in the evenings or weekends to run those errands.

In the past few months, I’ve coordinated with a friend who lives close by and shops and cooks the same way I do. We discovered while shopping for each other when our babies were born that our shopping lists look almost the same.  So we pool our resources on Wednesday afternoons—one of us watches all of the kids, and the other runs to Sprouts with both our shopping lists and gets all the shopping done in half the time. It’s a win-win because the one with all the kids is basically overseeing a playdate and having her shopping done for her while the one shopping gets to shop kid-free without paying for a sitter.  I tried this one time before with a friend whose family has food allergies (we don’t) and buys organic (we don’t), and it just didn’t work because we had to go to different stores for different things. But if you have a friend who shares your shopping preferences, I highly recommend trying it!

What’s your most successful grocery shopping technique?

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2 Responses to Grocery Shopping…With Kids

  1. Anitra says:

    I’ve found that, since I can rarely to get enough time to go shopping with NO children, I will try whenever possible to go shopping with just ONE child. If it’s my oldest, she can read the list, cross things off, and put items in the cart. If it’s my preschooler, he can help with certain items but not others. If it’s just the baby, I try to move quickly so he doesn’t get fussy, but at least I’m not getting the “mom can we?” questions.

    Having a concrete list helps immensely. But it involves quite a bit of pre-planning.

    • Emily says:

      You’re right–shopping with just one of my kids (it doesn’t matter which one) is pretty much always easier than with all of them.

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