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9 Easy Ways to Grocery Shop with Kids in Tow

Ready to master the art of bringing your kids to the grocery store? We've got a couple ideas!

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Family in the supermarketShutterstock / George Rudy

The grocery store can be overwhelming. (Even for people who know how to grocery shop like a boss!) Between walking up and down the aisles, searching for products that have disappeared overnight and looking at your weekly ads and coupons, it’s hard to keep your kids happy, too.

Here are a couple handy tricks to make sure you–and your mini-me–have a wonderful trip to the supermarket.

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Closeup beautiful cute baby holding and biting French bread sitting in red and blue shopping trolley against supermarket full of people backgroundShutterstock / Volodymyr Tverdokhlib

Feed Them in Advance

No one should grocery shop on an empty stomach! You’ll be more likely to grab unhealthy snacks for hungry kids, so make sure everyone is well-fed and won’t need a snack mid-trip. (The samples at Costco should always be encouraged, though.)

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Man pushing trolleys at a Publix supermarket storeShutterstock / Peter Titmuss

Shop at Kid-Friendly Stores

Look for stores that have kid-friendly programs and handouts, like mini-shopping carts and stickers at the checkout. Kids under 18 can grab a complimentary apple or banana at Kroger, the Publix bakery will gift your child a free cookie and Fred Meyer has childcare for kids ages 2-6 to color and play.

(Don’t miss 20 more perks at America’s top grocery stores.)

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adorable little boy choosing fruits at the markerShutterstock / Aleksei Potov

Let Them Help You Shop

Instead of asking kids not to touch anything, encourage them to be your helper! Give them an individual shopping list with easily recognizable items based on their age, like fruits and veggies for younger kids and name-brand items for those a bit older, so they can join in.

See all 6 tips for an expertly-organized grocery list.

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Adorable little boy, sitting in a shopping cartShutterstock / Tomsickova Tatyana

Go Post-Nap

If your child is still taking naps, make sure to go after the nap has happened. You never know what could hold you up at the store, whether it’s a particularly long line at the checkout, running into a friend or traffic on the way home. Don’t get caught with an overtired kiddo–take your outing after they’ve already had a nap.

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Mother and daughter shopping for produce in supermarketShutterstock / Monkey Business Images

Play Grocery Store Games

No, not exactly like Guy’s Grocery Games, but you can make the experience fun and not so boring. You might play your own version of a game like Price is Right or I Spy: “I spy something healthy for your lunchbox” or “I spy something green.”

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happy little girl with food in shopping cart at grocery storeShutterstock / Syda Productions

Set Expectations in Advance

Lay down the law in advance, before you get into the store, and let kids know your ground rules and rewards. Something like, “We won’t be getting any candy today, but you can pick out something for an after-school snack.”

There still might be an argument about what constitutes a healthy after-school snack, but at least the conversation has been had in advance.

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Mother and baby daughter in supermarket buying fruits and vegetablesShutterstock / BlueOrange Studio

Pack Emergency Essentials

To head off a foot-stomping temper tantrum, bring a few things from home to calm them down. Whether that’s a pacifier, stuffed animal or blanket or your phone to play a game on, make sure you have an ace up your sleeve to diffuse a heated situation. (It never hurts to have some snack mix in your bag, either.)

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Cute little sisters shopping in a food store or a supermarketShutterstock / MNStudio

Teach Them Smart Shopping

When you’re using coupons or in-store technology like Kroger Edge, explain how and why you make smart decisions while shopping. Show them that you care about the earth by using reusable shopping bags, and reusable produce bags, too. They’ll be influenced by your ways when it’s time for them to shop one day!

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Little Child Blond Girl Shopping in the supermarket, pushing trolley, looking for sweetsShutterstock / Petr Bonek

Promise a Reward

It could be the chance to pick out a snack, order something from McDonald’s or watch extra TV when they get home. It’s exhausting for kids to be in a bright and busy grocery store, so give ’em a small treat and a BIG hug at the end of the trip!

Jacqueline Weiss
Jacqueline is a blogger and writer, passionate about sharing the latest in helpful tips and trends in food and cooking. In her spare time, you’ll find her trying new restaurants and experimenting in the kitchen.