The best way to go food shopping for me is by myself, with no other people in the store. Since I’m not Beyonce and I can’t have my local Tesco closed especially for me, I have to slum it with the rest of us. As a shift worker, there are some advantages, you don’t have to go at peak times, but then you do have to put up with old people being slow and getting in the way (#sorrynotsorry). This all pales into insignificance when it comes to the hell that is Going food shopping with children. When they’re babies you might luck out and they’ll sleep through it, if not you get screaming most of the way round. I remember one hellish time when I had William and Phoebe plus a screaming Daniel, he had to be carried the whole way round, I had no baby carrier with me and needed to go shopping so it had to be done. I kept getting sympathetic and other looks from everyone on the way round.
If I see anyone with a crying baby or tantrumming toddler round the shops now I smile and offer a sympathetic eye, I never judge. I’m in the trenches myself. If I’m lucky enough to be on my own I just count my blessings. More often than not I have at least one child with me. Here’s how we cope with supermarket shopping with children:
#1 Don’t do it
Order online. Much easier. OK, you can’t touch and feel stuff but you control the budget, what goes in the trolley and they bring it to your house, often the next day. Tesco is my favourite, they also remind me about things I may have forgotten, and save my favourites.
#2 Use the Scan as you Shop
It’s not for you, it’s for the kids. If you have more than one, there’ll be a fight, but if you set ground rules and turns it works. It’s like a toy gun with beeping function. Watch out for multiple purchases. If you have a child between 1 and 3, they’ve basically got the monopoly on it. It does save time, just remember your bags (see below), scan direct into them and when you’ve finished, just pay and go.
#3 Don’t forget your shopping list
Write a list and do your best to try and stick to it. Take a pen and tick them off. I try, but I often end up doing it from memory, then at the end I get it out, realise I’ve forgotten something and have to go against the flow back to the beginning because I’ve forgotten a lime that will be cut in half, then left to shrivel up in the fridge. Get the older children involved in taking charge of the list and finding items.
#4 Pick your time wisely
Don’t take the kids shopping when they’re:
That gives you a narrow window, and it’s unavoidable at times, especially when you’re like me, a little bit chaotic and then you run out of everything at once and you end up doing it at the worst time and coming back with lots of sweet stuff and nothing much to actually cook with.
#5 Get the packing right
To help reduce the stress, and especially now we have to pay for carrier bags, don’t forget the reuseable bags! This is something that my husband often does as he likes to do the shopping by himself, which I don’t mind, one less thing for me to do, but he has on many occasions forgotten the bags and then bought more reuseable bags. Now we’ve got some Trolley Bags, they’re really easy to use and they’re big and sturdy, so when they’re brought in they’re obvious enough to take back to the car again for next time. They roll up nice and compact too. I took them out for a trial run with Daniel, because I wanted to see how they fitted the trolley with a child in the seat. It turns out you can use them with or without the child seat deployed, you can put them in the whole trolley or you can slot one of the bags into the veg part at the end. They are attached together with a velcro strip and then detach from each other at the end, or you could take just a couple for a smaller shop. They are colour coded at the top and black net at the bottom. All round very useful.
#6 Take a
Take a drink and a snack with you for your child(ren) to occupy them, I’m not ashamed to admit I often take a packet of crisps with me for Daniel because I know it’ll last a while. Tesco now do free fruit for children to keep them occupied which is a godsend. Raisins, fruit drops or breadsticks also work well. Try and avoid sweets, they’re over too quick and then they just want more!
#7 Make it a game
Use your list, split it in 2 or however many children you need it for and make it into a treasure hunt. Whoever can tick off the items in their list wins. If you have time, make it fair so one doesn’t get all the fruit and veg at the beginning – prizes can be something small from the shop or they get to choose something (set a price limit!).
#8 Divide and conquer
If you’re going as a family, use 2 trolleys, divide the list and start at either end of the supermarket. It saves time, and also you have more room in the trolley this way, and one person can start with the heavy items like the wine and cider and diet coke. I tend to avoid going as a family because I can’t bear the time he takes deliberating over a pack of ham, but we’ve done this method before.
Have you got any more tips?
Disclaimer: I was gifted the trolley bags in return for my open and honest review.
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