Teaching your kids how to do the grocery shopping does not have to be hard. I taught my other half how to shop (he was a impulse buyer, non price reader and brand name addict) and now heís a pro at getting a bargain!
To start out, accompany them to the shops to guide them through the process but later you should be able to let them go on their own adventures (with age appropriate supervision of course!)
Here are my tops tips for encouraging children to make responsible choices in the supermarket.
1. Have them actively involved in what they would like to eat for mealtimes over the week.
Get them to write a list of meals and help them create a shopping list based on that meal plan. If they are the ones making the choices, then there will be less excuses about why they can't eat when you cook it and there will be less wastage.
2. Have them check the cupboards and fridge to cross out the things they donít need to buy.
3. Divide the list up into Fruit and Veg, Meat, Dairy, Pantry and Freezer
Doing it this way means that when they hit the shops they can work through the list in an orderly fashion. If you like, you can purchase a pad of pretty pre made shopping list templates from Officeworks stores.
4. Give them the shopping money in cash.
Tell them that whatever money is left over after they have got everything on the list is for them to keep to put in their savings or buy themselves something. This will motivate them to make decisions about getting the best price for each product and to take a little more notice of what their choices are on the shelves.**
5. Explain that food is priced per unit.
So if they are buying parmesan cheese for example, instead of just looking at the home brand one and assuming it is the cheapest product, they might find that the brand name is on special and works out to the slightly cheaper price per unit
6. Show them how to choose fruit and vegetables.
Talk about the colour, the smell, organic vs. non-organic as well as packaged vs. loose. If you have a bit of nutrition knowledge you could chat to them about why each food is important for the body and why they should be eating them.
7. Always feed them before going to the shops.
There is nothing worse than a cranky kid in a supermarket who just wants to eat every sugary or salty product in site. Keep their mind on the job rather than in the confectionary isle.
8. Discuss value for money.
Talk about which particular products are value for money. For example the yoghurt with the Disney characters are exactly the same kind of yoghurt as the one without but twice the price. Would they rather have that money go to something more fun than a pretty label? Perhaps a colouring book later on?
9.Use the checkouts that are confectionary free to avoid temptation.
10.Donít stop once the groceries are in the trolley.
Have them actively involved in unpacking the trolley into the groups in which you like the foods to be placed in your shopping bags and have them helped bring in the groceries and put them away once you get home.
11. Where you can, involve them in food preparation.
As parents we sometime forget how much our kids are actually capable of. It will always depend on the age of the kids but most pre-schoolers can put non-breakable items in trolleys, bring the milk or lighter shopping inside and help with peeling or grating vegetables or spreading vegemite on their toast. Kids like to be busy and, given the opportunity, love to be involved in the daily running of the household. It will always take ten times longer, but with practice they will get better so when starting out make sure you allow yourself plenty of time so it can be a positive experience for them. As they become more confident you can branch into cooking with them.