Shopping with your children can be a real trial. It's hard to keep them contented as you wind your way through the grocery aisles choosing food for the week. Little ones often bawl in frustration. As soon as children can talk, the refrain becomes, "I'm bored."
It's time to turn grocery shopping into a fun-filled adventure. Here are some activities that will turn your children into supermarket fans, as well as teach them a thing or two about nutrition.
In this game, created by folks at the U.S. Agriculture Department, you and your child play detectives who use clues from the Food Guide Pyramid to choose foods at the supermarket.
- First, create a shopping list. Write down all the "suspects" or food items you'll be looking for at the market. Ask your son or daughter for input on what groceries they think the family should buy. Have them organize the "suspects" by food group. For example, list all the grains or all the fruit. This will reinforce what your child is learning about different kinds of foods and how foods are grouped.
- Make a "wanted list." Ask your child to choose one or two foods for the family to try for the first time, like a new kind of fruit or a type of cheese. Kids are more inclined to try new foods if they have a hand in choosing them.
- At the store, start sleuthing. Have your child be in charge of the shopping list and suggest that they check off various items as they find them.
Bright-colored, busy, and packed with interesting foods to eat, supermarkets can be discovery zone for kids. A word to the wise: It's best to bring children to the store after snack time or nap time.
Eat a Rainbow
In the produce section, marvel at odd-shaped fruits and vegetables and the rainbow of colors before you. Try to buy fruits and vegetables in season and explain to your children what that means. It will help connect them to nature.
Eating an array of fruits and vegetables is a cornerstone of a healthy diet. Studies show that people who eat fruits and vegetables regularly when they are little are more likely to do so as adults.
Discover New Foods
Today, many supermarkets offer samples. Kids adore the bite-sized nibbles and beverages in tiny cups, and this is a fun way for them to try new things. Make sure that any food or beverage your child samples is pasteurized to prevent food-borne illness.
Take the children globetrotting by buying bread from different countries. Try chapattis from India, rye bread from Sweden, pitas from the Middle East and baguettes from France. Pull out the map and mark the countries whose bread your family has tasted. You can play the same game with other foods as well.
Spotlight Your Child's Tastes
Have your children pick out their favorite fruit for their morning cereal and their favorite vegetable for dinner. It makes kids feel special and important when you highlight their food tastes.