6 Grocery Store Skills To Teach Kids

Jon and I jokingly refer to the grocery as my second home. On a good (efficient) week I’m only there once, but if we’re in a high volume cooking and baking week—and if I’m also a tad distracted (meaning: I haven’t added everything to my grocery store app)—multiple grocery store runs within the same week are common.

And here’s the thing: even though sometimes I consider grocery shopping my quiet time (I KNOW), and even though many parents think it’s a nightmare to bring kids to the grocery store, I like to bring the kids with me from time to time because: 1) I believe in any and all together time counting as together time, 2) it’s important for kids to know that groceries don’t magically appear out of nowhere; 3) your kid will eventually need to learn how to function at a grocery store so it’s a good time to teach them some life skills. Here are 6 grocery store life skills to teach your kids. And if you want to continue to level up your kids’ life skills, see my previous posts on how to negotiate, library life skills, public transit life skills, green kitchen life skills, bathroom life skills, home safety skills, home cleaning skills, out-in-the-world life skills, school lunch skills.

1. General store layout + flow

I’m not sure if this is a common thing but I always go right to left in the grocery store, starting with produce. Teach kids the store layout and where to find common items. Added bonus: when you’re in the checkout line and realize you have forgotten something, your kid can run to get it!

2. Item vs. unit price

Hey, did you know hitting the grocery store with kids can be a good time to teach math? One of the first things I taught my kids was about item vs. unit price. Item price is the price tag on a given item, whereas unit price will show the cost of your item based on another unit of measurement (e.g., pound, quart). This is a CRUCIAL skill because it will help you comparison shop. Just make sure to point out that the items you are comparing need to be based on the same unit of measurement (and if not, get going with the on the fly math)!

3. Reading ingredient labels

Reading ingredient labels is super important. There is, of course, the common healthy eating advice that the cleaner the ingredient list, the better—if you can’t pronounce items on the ingredient list, keep moving! But learning to read labels is also important given the prevalence of food allergies. Given Violet’s allergies, both Laurel and Violet are super tuned in to label reading. 

4. Check expiration dates + produce quality 

Listen, I imagine there are automated systems at big grocery stores to reduce the chance that expired items are on the shelf, but mistakes happen. To prevent yourself from the grossness of opening something rotten and the hassle of returning for a replacement, check expiration dates in advance! Same goes for checking produce quality.

5. Bring reusable grocery bags

If you don’t already use recyclable grocery bags, hop on board, especially to avoid plastic grocery bags! There are lots of cutely designed resuable grocery bags, but we have a total mish mash collection. And if you do forget to bring bags, opt for paper bags; you can use them as recycling receptacles at home or for crafting.

6. Help put away groceries

Related to my earlier point about teaching kids that groceries don’t appear out of nowhere, it’s also important to teach them that groceries don’t put themselves away. I actually also don’t mind putting groceries away but it’s important to teach kids to put groceries away (rotating so newest items are in the back) so they know where to look for things before asking you! Also, bonus tip: whenever I buy toilet paper, I immediately have them help load up the bathrooms so people can’t say they didn’t refill the toilet paper holder because there was no toilet paper in the bathroom!

Looking to level up other life skills? Check out these posts: how to negotiate, key library skills, public transit skills, green kitchen skills, bathroom life skills, home safety skills, home cleaning skills, out-in-the-world life skills, school lunch skills. And here’s a video version of this post if listening/watching is preferable!

Key grocery store skills to teach kids

Key grocery store skills to teach kids