how to grocery shop like a mother

Before I even start, I’ll tell you that I can feel my husband’s eyes rolling. I hate grocery shopping with kids. Hate. There are inevitable meltdowns, stops for (disgusting) public bathroom breaks, and the spending of way more money than necessary. To top all of that loveliness off, you are pretty much guaranteed to spend double the amount of time in the store than you would have otherwise.

That said, a lot of the time there is no other choice. While it would be lovely to sneak out solo and run through the aisles with ease, that rarely happens. So you have to put on your big girl panties and adapt. It might not be the most fun you’ve ever had, but there are ways to make it to grocery shop like a motherCome prepared.

This sounds kind of silly and obvious, but seriously. How often do you get to the grocery store only to find that you left your list at home and you can’t seem to find that coupon you were so excited to use?

It’s way easier to say than to actually do, but try to start a new shopping routine. Before you go out the front door stop and check for a few things: Do you have your list? Is everything you need actually written down on your list? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten home from a big shopping trip to realize I forgot something I was sure I’d remember. Also check for any coupons, store cards and anything else you might need.

grocery shopping with kids: park by the cart drop

Park as close to the cart drop as humanly possible.

Once your kids reach the toddler stage this is essential–especially if you have multiple mobile munchkins (good lord I love alliteration). Proximity to the door means nothing if you’re juggling your purse, your children and all of the belongings necessary for their contentment. Park near the cart drop and you can swoop in, grab your cart and dump everything inside before power walking to the entrance.

The only time this is less important is during extreme weather–but don’t dream of dragging them out in that case unless it’s absolutely necessary. Everyone will survive on peanut butter and jelly for dinner if your only other option is braving a monsoon.

grocery shopping with kids: bring distractions

Entertainment is key.

When kids are in tow you’re crazy if you don’t bring something that will help distract them. A book, a toy, whatever keeps them quiet make sure you have it!

For my seven year old, iPod apps and whatever book series she’s into at the moment are usually enough to keep her entertained long enough to swoop through the store. And if she’s entertained, chances are her eyes are not scanning the aisles for things she absolutely neeeeeeeds me to buy her.

The two year old is kind of a crap shoot. I try to pack a toy she hasn’t played with in a while. On this particular trip she had a ball buckling Tinkerbell in with her and talking to her about safety. I also grabbed a couple of board books off the toddler display as I passed it so that she could read to Tink when she was bored with giving lectures.

Try to avoid aisles you don’t want to spend excess money in (toys, junk food).

This one can be difficult, but it’s important when you’re trying not to break the bank. I’m not sure about you, but I’m a total sucker for faces like this one:

little terror toddlerWhen she looks at me with those big blue eyes and swipes the hair off her face while saying “Pleeeeeeeease?” I’m kind of toast.

That’s why I try my hardest to avoid aisles that will obviously tempt her. We’re talking chips and junk food as well as toys. Sometimes there’s no avoiding them. In those cases, make a game plan. Either let them know in advance that you’re not purchasing any extras that day or tell them they can choose one thing.

When all else fails, bribe them.

Let’s face it. No matter how prepared you are, you’re dealing with some fickle little creatures. You can do everything “right” (which is a hilarious concept in the first place because your right and my right might be two entirely different things) and you still might encounter a colossal meltdown–or worse, multiple colossal meltdowns simultaneously.

If you get to the point where you feel like you’re about to have a colossal meltdown, bribe the little suckers. Will it teach them anything? No. Is it something you should resort to often? No. But you know what? If once in a while bribing your kid with peanut butter M&Ms saves your sanity, I’m not about to judge you.

grocery shopping with kids: bribes

What are your tricks for grocery shopping with kids?

Written by Jennifer Garry
Jen is a freelance writer and girl mom from New York. When she's not knee-deep in glittery crafts and girl talk, you can probably find her sprawled across her couch in the middle of a Netflix marathon with dark chocolate smeared on her face. The struggle is real.