Cookies, sugar-coated cereal, candy bars – these unhealthy treats always seem to be positioned at perfect eye level for a toddler. If grocery shopping with your kids is regular exercise in blocking and tackling corn syrup-infused confections, you are not alone. Most parents struggle with this challenge each visit to the store. To make shopping fun and healthy, try these strategies for successful grocery shopping with your little ones:
- Five colors in the cart. Next time you head to the market with your kids, challenge them to fill the cart with five different colors. You’ll be amazed to see the change in perspective as they race around the produce aisle looking for colorful foods to add. For a list of healthy foods by color, check out the free Crunch a Color™ food chart.
- Pick a new food each week. Of the colors they pick for the cart, encourage them to choose one new food to try each week. Posing this challenge to your kids puts them in control of making nutritious choices for themselves. They don’t have to love it, but it’s great for them to try it. Research suggests it can take up to ten times of trying a new food before a child likes it.
- If you can’t read the label, leave it on the shelf. My five year old is just learning to read. When he picked up a box of cookies the other day I challenged, “If you can read what’s on the label we can add it to our cart.” Luckily Malodextrin was a mouthful for my little shopper so the box of cookies stayed on the shelf. Said another way: if you don’t know where the food came from, don’t eat it.
- Shop farmers’ markets. In winter months this may be a challenge, but whenever possible seek out fresh markets where your kids (and you) can meet farmers and buy fresh, local organic fruits and veggies. Connecting with the people who grow your food is a wonderful way to teach your kids about what is healthy for them – and farmers have great ideas for how to prepare their bounty. Local Harvest is a fantastic interactive online map for finding farmers markets, family farms, and sustainably grown food in your area.