Grocery Shopping With Your Child
Maybe you like to shop with your kids, and maybe you don’t. Either way, there will be days when you and your children go grocery shopping together. Here are some grocery shopping tips to help get the job done more efficiently:
Make a list
A shopping list gives you a sense of purpose. It ensures that you will remember to buy the foods you need, and it keeps you from buying foods you don’t need or want in your home. Enlist your children’s help when you make your list. Tape a list of grow foods to your refrigerator and ask your children to check them off when they are used up so that you can add them to your shopping list. Ask your kids which grow food they’d especially like, including, of course, a few acceptable treats. You might compare your shopping list with the traffic-light list. (Maybe you even have it posted on your refrigerator.) Be sure your shopping list contains mostly green-light grow foods, and perhaps a few yellow-light foods. Ignore the red-light foods.
Go directly to the grow foods
As you enter the supermarket, say to your child, “We’ll skip the junk-food aisles and go to the grow foods. Let’s find the fruits and vegetables.” Avoid dragging your kids past displays of stuff you’re not going to buy.
Ask kids to help
Kids love to bag apples, pick out lettuce, find foods on the shelves, and put things in the grocery cart. You could include pictures on your list of what to buy, or have your first-grader practice reading the words on your list.
Shop the perimeter
Many stores are arranged with the produce, meat, and dairy foods around the perimeter of the store, and the more processed foods in the aisles in the middle. Stick to the outside for fresh foods and skip the junk-food and soda aisles.
Get away from “red-light” foods
Besides saying, “We only shop the perimeter,” tell your inquisitive child, “There is an aisle in the supermarket that we just don’t go down.” “Why?” she’s likely to ask. “Because that aisle contains red-light foods, those with the three ‘bad words’ on the label: high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oil, and a color with a number, like red #40.”
Practice numbers and colors
Kids can practice math and language skills at the supermarket. Count “one, two, three, four apples.” Talk about what costs more and what costs less. Calculate prices per serving or per pound.
Just say no!
You can’t get out of the store without going through the checkout lane with all of its last-minutes temptations. So prepare for last-minutes appeals for candy by picking out healthier treats elsewhere in the store and handing them out while you wait in line. Remind your child, “We just don’t eat that stuff in our family. Remember, we got you that special juice (or whatever) for a treat. For now, here a handful or Mighty Bites (or whatever).”
Dr. Sears, or Dr. Bill as his “little patients” call him, has been advising busy parents on how to raise healthier families for over 40 years. He received his medical training at Harvard Medical School’s Children’s Hospital in Boston and The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, the world’s largest children’s hospital, where he was associate ward chief of the newborn intensive care unit before serving as the chief of pediatrics at Toronto Western Hospital, a teaching hospital of the University of Toronto. He has served as a professor of pediatrics at the University of Toronto, University of South Carolina, University of Southern California School of Medicine, and University of California: Irvine. As a father of 8 children, he coached Little League sports for 20 years, and together with his wife Martha has written more than 40 best-selling books and countless articles on nutrition, parenting, and healthy aging. He serves as a health consultant for magazines, TV, radio and other media, and his AskDrSears.com website is one of the most popular health and parenting sites. Dr. Sears has appeared on over 100 television programs, including 20/20, Good Morning America, Oprah, Today, The View, and Dr. Phil, and was featured on the cover of TIME Magazine in May 2012. He is noted for his science-made-simple-and-fun approach to family health.