Grocery Scavenger Hunt, anyone?
When it comes to taking kids to the grocery store it really used to be one of my worst nightmares — ﬁghts over who sits in the cart, whining over some crazy junk food they saw on TV, and the inevitable knocking over of some display or “cleanup in aisle 5” used to literally drive me to tears some days.
Then I got wise to the possibilities, and all of that changed. Really.
The grocery store is deadly boring to little kids, but give them something meaningful to do and the experience really can go from downright dreadful to surprisingly pleasant. Depending on the age of your kids, certain activities might be better suited for your shopping excursion than others. Here are just a few ideas I use with my own children and my young clients. I love them because they both entertain and educate:
1. If you have a new reader in the family, let them check items off the list when you put them in the cart. (Please note: This requires that you print neatly and not use the usual chicken scratch in crayon list. I have also found that the opportunity to use a fancy pen ups the interest.)
2. In the produce section, get your kids to build a rainbow in the cart. (Note: You can print off a rainbow image for them to use as a guide if they are too young to have met Roy G Biv.) The hardest colours to ﬁnd are usually the indigos and violets — think blueberries and eggplants. Then explain how nature makes healthy food colourful to attract us to it, and that we should try to eat a rainbow every day.
3. Set up a little grocery store scavenger hunt. Before you go, make a couple of cards with either a few images or names of healthy foods your child needs to ﬁnd. When he or she ﬁlls the card, let them choose one new fruit or veggie to go in the cart as a reward. Be sure to include at least a couple of items theyʼre not familiar with, so they will learn a little something in the process.
4. Choose one fruit and one veggie, and get your child to see how many forms of that food they can ﬁnd in the store (For example, apples: fresh apples, apple sauce, dried apples, apple juice or asparagus: frozen, canned and fresh).
5. Before you go, let your child plan a healthy meal or snack, and take their own small grocery list of the items required to make it. They can then be responsible for ﬁnding the requisite ingredients for that meal. Make sure it includes a fruit or veggie!
You may think Iʼm nuts, but Iʼm telling you, getting to the store with a trick or two up your sleeve makes all the difference. Happy shopping!
Wendy McCallum, LLB, RHN, is passionate about providing busy parents with the tools & support they need to feed their families wholesome food, so everyone can play, learn, and feel better! She is a mother of two terrific HRM kids, both aged 7. For information and recipe ideas, visit her website.