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How To Streamline Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping with kids is enough to make anyone twitch. Why is this simple task so hard? What about “Don’t touch anything” means “Yes, please grab 14 boxes of pasta!”? Why the sudden need to exercise and run around despite the cart designed to look like a fire truck?

And what on earth is so intriguing about the other side of the store when you don’t even know what’s over there?

(Yup. Just answered my own question.)

I still struggle with this. We’ve moved around so much since having kids that I’ve had to get used to a new grocery store every 18 months. I wish I could pay Cub Foods for footage in their parking lot the other day. You’d see a pleasant, happy, engaged mama going in and then an hour later a crazy maniac coming out, running for her car as if fleeing a hungry bear.

HALP!

Lord knows I’ve learned a few things that have helped me. And hopefully we’ll get used to our new grocery spot soon. Here are a few things I do to make things less … well, torturous:

  • I categorize my list

I still prefer pen and paper, for some reason. I start my grocery list by marking 4 sections: produce, grocery, dairy, and frozen. As I add things to my list, I put it in the appropriate section. My trip through the store is much simpler and I don’t end up bouncing around as much. Here’s my Grocery List Printable.

  • If I can, I involve the kids!

Kids actually love to be a part of what you’re doing. If they’re old enough to be interested, humor them!

If we walk to the grocery store and I’m pushing a stroller, I let the kids push the kid-sized cart and lug the groceries. Why they love it, I don’t know, but my almost 3-year-old sticks to me like glue and is at the ready when I hand him something.

If I bring coupons to use, I let someone be in charge of them. I’ll bring a small envelope for one of my kids to hang onto and as I find the items, I’ll hand the applicable coupon for them to keep in the envelope. Again, they love being in charge of that.

I’ll bring a $5 bill, which a kid gets to keep in his pocket. He then gets to pick out a treat within a section (this usually means berries from the produce department). We keep that item separate – the kid can even hold it in his lap or carry it – and he gets to pay for it separately at the end of the grocery trip.

My last go-to involvement is loading the groceries onto the belt. Kids love it, even the heavy items. Again, I’m bewildered and so thankful 😊

  • I bring snacks.

Nothing makes a child stay put like a snack. Granola bars or string cheese are good for this situation. Enough said.

  • I take a trip to the bathroom, if necessary.

If someone keeps acting up, we take a trip to the bathroom (or in front of the bathroom if it’s not cart friendly). Here, they get a very direct reminder about what good behavior is in the grocery store. My kids hate the idea of being brought to the bathroom, so even the question, “Do we have to take a trip to the bathroom?” usually makes them wise up. They know what it means! Most of the time, if you give extra diligence to nip things in the bud, your kids will start to get it. Unfortunately, this often means having to inconvenience yourself by bringing them aside somewhere or taking them out to the car. Yes, grocery trips take 3 times longer with kids. Oi vey!

A word on rewards: I try to avoid rewarding good behavior in the grocery store, although I completely understand why parents do it. I try to remind myself that I want to encourage good behavior in public whether I treat them or not. Grocery shopping is simply something we have to do, and I want to encourage my kids to behave for its own sake. That’s their contribution. I also like giving treats because I love them, not to coerce them into good behavior. It’s way more fun that way.

You can do this, mama. If you like to grocery shop for yourself, you CAN. Even with your circus in tow. Just don’t forget how amazing you are. If you need an extra boost, just wear your cape to the store.

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