Taking your toddlers to the supermarket is often a tricky experience. You want to get through as fast as possible without any tantrums and with a trolley filled with healthy food. The kids see the lolly aisle and want to dive right in and start eating. So how do you avoid the pitfalls around every corner and leave without a trolley full of junk?
The way PlanBuyCook’s Jen handles it is through meal planning. ‘First we start with the weekly meal plan so we have the shopping list on the phone before leaving home. The kids have had input into the week’s meals. We agree that the list is ready to go, and then head to the supermarket,’ Jen says.
Once at the supermarket, Jen tackles the issue head-on with the kids. ‘The lollies are sometimes placed in the same aisle as the cereal, so you can’t avoid that aisle at the shops,’ she says.
‘So I like to engage my kids in a conversation about the great colours and packets, with things like “Isn’t that a beautiful purple colour, and I wonder how they get the colour into those lollies”. That way you are acknowledging that they look great and attractive. The kids have my attention. We also talk about how they probably taste great, and before we know it, we’re in the next aisle! If I get any resistance after that, we check the list to see if there is any mention of lollies, and if not, we move on.’
Jen uses the same tactic when she gets to the checkout. ‘I talk about the chewing gum packaging and the little candy lollies and just keep the conversation rolling while the food goes through the checkout,’ Jen says. ‘I don’t want to get into arguments and shout at them to put them back. Instead of avoiding it and hoping they don’t see them, I talk about them openly. The kids now say things like “That chocolate would be really nice but I know we’re not buying any now”. It is a really great step forward.’
When shopping for one of their parties or for lollies to donate to the school fete, Jen adds them to the shopping list, takes the kids with her and involves them in the purchase, so they know that they can have special party food and that it is ok as occasional food.
‘I try to move the conversation away from whether it is ‘bad for you’. Rather I like to talk about it not being everyday food,’ she says.
‘Like everything, it is mainly a question of balance,’ Jen says.
The PlanBuyCook iPhone and iPad app has a fantastic shopping list that the kids can tick off on your smartphone as you go through the supermarket.