How to Teach Kids to Grocery Shop Frugally

by Vincent King · 6 comments

Teaching kids about money is one of the most difficult tasks we’re faced with when parenting. It’s a challenge to raise kids who are financially aware, and who will hopefully make better decisions than we do.

Often that’s because we spend our time telling our children how they should do things, rather than letting them follow in our footsteps. It’s difficult for us to change. We’ve settled into not-so-wise routines and are creatures of habit.

We live our lives hoping they’ll hear our words instead of watching our actions — so they’ll live their lives out better than we lived ours.

And even if we’re taking the right steps, we often don’t explain why we’re doing so. By using small tasks like grocery shopping as a teaching tool, we can help our children understand our thought processes and learn to make solid financial choices.

Here’s how to teach your kids to grocery shop frugally:

Take Them With You

If you want your babies to grow into fiscally austere grocery shoppers, you must involve them.

When you go grocery shopping, take the little tikes with you, and don’t shop in a hurry. Rushing through your shopping makes it all too easy to make mistakes. Do it right, and you won’t have to take as many “field trips” as you think. It’s great to start exposing children to logic and decision-making, as they’ll catch on quickly.

Talk It Out

When you hit the store, be armed with a map and plan. Then work your way around the store’s perimeter.

Fill your cart mostly with fresh produce; avoid the processed food aisles and freezer sections as much as possible. These foods cost less by volume, but are also less filling and cause far more health problems.

Explain to your children why you’re sticking to the store’s outside edges. Talk about why you’re choosing seasonal veggies, instead of paying more for imported ones that are available all year long – like tomatoes and strawberries that are unusually large and unseasonably red and juicy.

Talk to them about prices per unit and how things look like a bargain, but really may not be once you break them down into price per unit. Discuss why you choose to buy certain items on certain weeks and not others.

Explain how important menus and lists are when shopping – that knowing what you need is half the battle. Your children will come to understand that walking into the grocery store blind means walking into a spending trap because they’ll surely pick up unneeded items.

If you use coupons, then talk to the kids about which coupons serve you best and which don’t. This will help them recognize good and bad deals.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Once your children have accompanied you on a couple of shopping trips, start asking questions about what you should choose. Help them talk their way through their thought processes. Even if they come to a wrong conclusion, be easy and tread lightly — the last thing you want is for them to shy away from the process.

In all likelihood, this will be a lesson for you both and will take lots of patience. But, the reward will be children who follow in your footsteps. They’ll be on their way to becoming frugal shoppers and health-conscious consumers.

Children need you to show them how to do what’s best; telling them just doesn’t cut it. The most effective way to make this a part of their thinking is by involving them in the process and actively teaching them along the way.

How have you taught your kids to be frugal?

Editor's Note: Did you know about the service called $5 meal plans? For $5 a month, they send you recipes of delicious, healthy, yet cheap food that costs just $5 a meal.

Several of my friends signed up and they are able to eat at home more because the instructions are easy to follow, making everything convenient. The deal also comes with grocery shopping lists, which saves them so much time. Check it out yourself by clicking here and you too may be able to save more and become healthier at the same time.

Money Saving Tip: An incredibly effective way to save more is to reduce your monthly Internet and TV costs. Click here for the current Verizon FiOS promotion codes and promos to see if you can save more money every month from now on.

{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Argie says:

    I always took my kids with me to the store from when they were babies – no choice, had to. If they misbehaved, we left. Very quickly, there was no misbehaving. They were curious and asked why I chose certain things. I am diabetic and have to read labels, and they learned to do that, as well, as soon as they could read. They helped a lot. They were planning meals and writing shopping lists in grade school. We costed different meals and they knew per serving what different meals cost and helped me make up a menu that had low-cost meals and a few higher cost ones. It helped them appreciate not only the money involved, but also nutrition.

  • Herman Bender says:

    It is so easy to save money . I make up a list of what I am running low on before I go to the Supermarket . I do NOT roam up and down the isles looking for what I might be interested in. I check out the weekly offers by my supermarket [ Publix ] where they offer ” Buy One , Get One Free ” Even though I might not need it now …….it is FREE . A well known name of a product is more expensive but I always try out a lessor known name at a much lower price . If it is inferior , I will purchase the more expensive product the next time . Arminius Aurelius

  • John S says:

    Great tips! We’ll include our oldest, which is six, in grocery shopping and just starting with the next one. It can provide a great opportunity to help teach them wants vs. needs and using our budget to get what we need.

  • Marbella says:

    Teach children to understand the extraordinary prices, offer, coupon discounts, great packaging purchase benefits etc. They can slowly learn food economy better then.

  • julia says:

    I really liked this and wish my parents took the time to do this with me. I remember when I first started shopping on my own after I moved out. It can be very overwhelming. This is a great idea to do with your kids!

  • Jon says:

    I plan on taking my kids with me to the grocery when they are old enough and teaching them how to shop smartly. I think the sooner you get that into their head, the better off they will be since marketers will be coming at them from every direction.

Leave a Comment