shopping with child


  • Park wisely at the grocery store.  Choose a space near the cart corrals instead of looking for a spot closest to the entrance. Having easy access to the carts makes it easier to get your kids ready to go in, to unload groceries to your car, and to return your shopping cart.
  • Let your child make their own "shopping list" at home.  Make a shopping list at home before you leave. Involve your children. Let them pick some snacks they’d like to eat. Have them choose a recipe to help prepare meals or snacks they’ll want for the week. Have them make a list by drawing the items they chose. At the store let them be responsible for “reading” items on their list.
  • Avoid going to the store when you and your child are hungry. If you shop while you’re famished, you’ll be morelikely to make unplanned (and unhealthy) purchases. Eat a light snack with your child before you head to the store or bring some easy-to-carry snacks along. Nothing will ruin your grocery trip more than a hungry child having a meltdown.
  • Set expectations. When you arrive at the store, ask your child to help you find some healthy snacks. (See GO, SLOW, WHOA Foods.) If possible, allow your child to choose one new and one familiar snack food.
  • Stick with the healthy samples.  Some supermarkets offer healthy foods for children to sample in the produce aisle. This is a great way to expose kids to new foods, unless it’s something you don’t want your child to try. Skip the unhealthy samples.
  • Stick with the game plan. You want to get in and out as efficiently as possible. Organize a grocery list with the items grouped in similar areas of the store. This will keep you from running back and forth from one side of the store to the other. Remember, the healthiest foods are usually found in the outer aisles of the store!


Playing games while in the grocery store can be fun for everyone. For example, you and your children can play a game of:

  • "I-spy" Challenge your child to locate something green in the produce department. Encourage children to look around to be engaged with their surroundings.
  • "Guess the ingredients" Tell your child that you’re making spaghetti sauce, then have them “guess” what items you need to buy for the sauce. Bonus: Have your child help you make it!

For older children: 

  • "Guess the weight" Pick a certain produce item and let your child guess how much it weighs. Once you’re both ready for the answer, place it on the produce scale to find out!
  • "Guess the price" Point to a certain product you’re planning to purchase and then have your child “guess” how much it costs.


Helwig, J. (2019, March 1). 6 Ways to Make Grocery Shopping with Kids Not Awful.

Lindsay, A., & Buffington, A. 2021, Shopping with Kids, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno, FS-21-105

Learn more about the author(s)


Also of Interest:

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Buffington, A., Lindsay, A. 2021, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno, FS-21-106
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Lindsay, A. and Taylor, S. 2020, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno

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Healthy Kids Resource Center

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