Making Grocery Stores Less Painful

We have a 4 yr old, a 2 yr old, and 2 babies … grocery shopping can get CRAZY. And don’t even think about looking to Pinterest – I don’t have the time or energy to do grocery bingo cards or come up with elaborate activities each week. But I love grocery shopping! Well, not really in and of itself, but grocery shopping with my girls is usually one of our favorite things to do. Here are some simple tricks I’ve used to make our shopping trips enjoyable. 

Be Prepared.

I usually look at my calendar and do a rough meal plan and create a quick grocery list from that. I include things like “3 types of fruit, 5 veggies and 2 kid snacks.” Bonus points if it is in the order that you will go through the grocery store in. 

Get the big buggy. 

Most grocery stores now have kid-friendly jumbo carts. They are hard to manage, but kids love them, and they allow for a variety of seating options. The toddler won’t stop touching her big brother? Switch their seats. Figure out which configuration options you have, and try them all out. Don’t be afraid to stop and reorganize halfway through the trip if it isn’t working. 

Go at mealtime

Mealtime? When my kids are hangry? My kids usually eat lunch around 11:30. We get to the grocery at 11 and head straight to the deli/food court. We grab a meal that they all love (pizza, chicken nuggets, popcorn shrimp, etc.), and I portion it out so that they can eat as we go. 

Train the walkers.

If you have a walker who sometimes turns into a runner, bring her to the store more often … but alone. I practice with my walkers when I need to run in for a handful of quick things. Typically, my rule is that you must stay within arms reach of me and come quickly when I call you, or you have to put your hand on the buggy for one minute. When that minute is up, she is free to roam again, within the set parameters. If it happens again, she is placed in the seat for a minute. Remember to remain calm and in control. This is a short trip, almost solely for the purpose of teaching her to stay near you in the grocery store. 

Make it routine.

For my girls, they know that we go to the store after gymnastics class on Tuesday. It doesn’t always happen, but they get into the car with that expectation, and it makes everyone feel more at ease. We also go to the same two places most of the time, so the workers know us, and the girls are excited to say hi and see if any of their friends are working. 

Allow them to help.

My 4 year old LOVES to write the grocery list for us (it takes FOREVER, so I usually just have her write one thing from each area of the store), and then she brings her pen and checks them off as we go. My 2 year old is not allowed to get out of the buggy. We are still in the training phase with that one! To let her help, I will hand her non-bruisable items to drop into the back of the cart, or I will give her the responsibility of handing the 1 year old her chicken nuggets when she’s ready. 

Have a backup. 

I always make sure to have some sort of distraction in my bag. A notebook and pen, a few suckers, a teething toy, favorite songs, a game of I Spy – things that will extend the trip that extra 5 minutes needed to get through that checkout line. 

These tips aren’t fool-proof, but hopefully they will help you to make grocery shopping a time of family bonding and enjoyment, instead of the dreaded obstacle it can sometimes be. 

Stacy Wilson
Stacy is married to John, and mother to four girls, all ages 6 and under. They are a foster family and are passionate about serving children and families in need. Stacy has a Master's Degree in Education from LSU, but has chosen to take a break from teaching in the classroom to work part-time, while focusing on family.


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