Grocery Survival Guide – Fun and Stress-Free Food Shopping with Kids


grocery shoppingIf you like to cook and eat fresh foods, then you probably find yourself at the grocery store often. I average two to three times per week. Inevitably, that means dragging along one, or three, of my children. And, shocker, it isn’t always easy.

One time I had all three children and made it to the register with a full cart only to discover I forgot my wallet. There have been epic meltdowns and emergency bathroom situations.

It has taken me a fair amount of trial, and lots of error, to figure out how to make food shopping pleasant and fun for us all.

I’m excited to share these strategies with other moms who are just trying to put food on the table.

A stress-free shopping trip begins before you leave the house, with choosing where to do your shopping. First, you want to pick a store that you’re familiar with – where you know the layout, including the bathrooms and exits.

Next, you want to consider your children’s needs and interests. Thankfully, Westchester offers wonderful family-friendly options.

For example, many stores provide complimentary kids’ snacks. My local Stop & Shop and ShopRite stores have baskets of fresh fruit, which my banana-loving boys appreciate. Whole Foods has an assortment of fruit, pouches, and crunchy snacks. The snack areas can be difficult to locate, so it doesn’t hurt to ask someone who works in the store.

For moms with infants, some stores, like Whole Foods and Decicco & Sons, have shopping carts that accommodate an infant car seat. Smaller, family-owned stores may provide extra assistance like bagging groceries and loading your car.

Once I’ve decided where I’m going to shop with my kids, I make my shopping list based on the layout of the store. This allows me to pause before I move on from a department or aisle to ensure I didn’t miss anything.

You want to be as efficient as possible with little ones in tow.

I purposely park near one of the cart return areas so I can load my kids into the car, unload my bags, and return the cart within a few steps.

Many stores offer technology that improves efficiency. A deli order kiosk helps avoid long lines, and preloading coupons using store apps saves time at the register.

There is endless entertainment in a grocery store.

You can’t turn a corner without your child seeing a character they recognize on a cereal box or balloon. My two-year is particularly fun to shop with because of his language development. We spend the entire trip talking about what we see in the store and what we’re buying. 

There’s no better visual experience than Stew Leonard’s with dancing and singing animals. We are also big fans of Marty the robot at Stop & Shop, who patrols the aisles for spills and hazards. 

Young shoppers want to feel important and independent, so take advantage of your little helpers.

My son likes to hold items in the cart. I’m careful about what I give him because I don’t want to end up with crumbled chips or broken glass. He loves holding a box of cereal or granola bars.

Loading the conveyor belt at the checkout is a great opportunity to put your kids to work and have fun. We make it a race to get everything on as fast as we can. Again, use caution with fragile items.

With young kids, you always have to be prepared for the unexpected.

I typically carry emergency lollipops for when things fall apart, and we just need to get through our shopping.

If you really can’t fathom taking your kids food shopping, there are multiple home delivery options available in Westchester, from Peapod to FreshDirect to Whole Foods Delivery to Instacart. Many mom-and-pop stores offer local delivery as well.

With the right perspective and a game plan, you can find magical moments with your kids during the mundane task of grocery shopping.