“MOM – Can you buy me cookies?”
“MOM – Can I have Cheeze-its?”
“MOM – I reallllly want that cool Spiderman toothbrush!”
Every parent has heard similar requests from their kids in the grocery store or as you’re making your grocery list. In fact my 5 year old now takes it upon himself to write ME a list of what he wants me to buy at the grocery store and then attaches it to the fridge so that I won’t forget! Although he knows I don’t cater to his frivolous requests it certainly doesn’t stop him from asking! And no matter how many times I may tell him “it’s too expensive” or “mommy isn’t buying junk food” – he is still just 5 years old – he is going to ask anyway. One good thing my mother taught me at an early age was how to handle money. A five year old is more than capable of learning basic steps and savings to grocery shopping. There are SO many ways you can do this! Here are a few scenarios below that you can do with your child at the grocery store. This does not necessarily take into consideration the cost of healthier foods or any type of nutrition lesson. This is simply a lesson on grocery expenses and navigating grocery costs.
Scenario #1: Sit down at home and make a grocery list with your child – start small if you have a younger child. Maybe 5 or 10 items on the list. Go to the grocery store with them. Hand your child a $20 bill while you are grocery shopping. Yes! Let them actually hold it! Don’t forget to bring a calculator along! As you get to each section in the grocery store show your child the options. Say you’re shopping for chips. Let them choose which chips they want after comparing prices and add the amount onto your calculator. Continue doing this until you’ve worked through your list or hit $20. Make sure to let your child choose everything that they want based off of your list. Buy your groceries and place them in the car. NOW go back inside the store with your child and let the adult do the shopping while explaining WHY they are choosing to purchase specific brands/items. Maybe as an example you want to only choose the cheapest items, or mostly choose the cheapest items. Add every item up on your calculator as you are shopping. If your amount is less than what your child spent, choose something to splurge on or give your child the cash to save in their bank. Explain that what brands and types of food you buy determines how much money it will cost, and how much money you will have leftover for other things.
Scenario #2: Before you head to the store sit down with your child at home and teach them how to make a list. Have two columns – one side for items that you NEED to buy and one side for items that you WANT to buy. Set a budget, then head to the grocery store, cash in hand, and place in the cart everything from your “NEED” list. Add it up (or purchase it if that’s easier) and then let your child use the leftover cash to buy what’s on the “WANT” list. Explain that by saving money in one area you’ll have extra money to save or spend somewhere else.
Scenario #3: Focus on what’s on sale. Sit down at home with the weekly grocery ad and circle items that are on sale. Then head to the store and COMPARE the sale items in the weekly ad to the prices of like items on the shelf. JUST because it’s on sale doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good deal!
Scenario #4: For this trip compare the price of purchasing a family dinner at the deli/bakery counter as opposed to purchasing the ingredients yourself and preparing the dinner at home. Buy both complete meals and add up the total costs in two separate columns. Have your child help you make dinner both nights and compare the amount of leftovers as well as the cost of each meal.
Other things to teach your child while grocery shopping:
Locations of products in a grocery store
How to interact at the deli/bakery/meat counter
Asking for help
Price per ounce comparison
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