10 TIPS TO MAKE ADDITIVE FREE SHOPPING WITH KIDS QUICKER & EASIER

I recently posted a blog on how to clean out your kitchen of all nasty food additives in a few simple steps. (click here if you missed it!)  Which means if you were an avid reader and followed my plan, right now the cupboard is bare and a shopping trip is in order…  Does this bring about great sighs and feelings of dismay?  For most of us with kids, shopping is seen as a chore and one best done quickly and whenever possible, without our little darlings.  But usually our kidlets have to tag along and if you’re a first timer to the additive free shopping experience, things can also take a lot longer than usual as you learn your way around labels and choose between additive free product brands.  It’s ok!  This blog is all about making sure your next shopping trip is not only a quick one, but also the most calm and pleasant experience possible with kids in tow.  Here are 10 ways to make it happen…

1. MAKE A LIST

Let’s get the blindingly obvious one out of the way first.  If you’ve read of a few of my blogs, you’re probably picking up by now that I’m all for a spot of planning. :-) Before you go shopping, know what you want, be organised and have a list (how I love a good list!). The more detailed your shopping list, the better.

To make a good list, first take the time to plan for meals, making sure you include any special occasions, snacks for sports in the afternoons, play dates, trips to the movies and parties.  Click here for more tips on how to create a menu plan that gives you a ready made additive free shopping list.  Having a list also gives you the easy ‘go to’ reply for requests to buy unwanted foods… “Nope, sorry, it’s not on the list” can become your standard retort…

Being prepared not only helps to make your shopping trip easier, but also makes the next tip a breeze too!

2. GET SAVVY WITH YOUR PRODUCT CHOICES

When additive free shopping for the first time, things can be a little overwhelming as you are introduced to a whole new range of brands and products.  Ease the pain by letting your fingers to the walking beforehand, in the safe (and kiddy occupying) confines of your own home.  Let google be your friend and do a bit of research into additive free brands available.  Whilst I fully encourage shopping at your local farmers market and wholefood stores, there are also plenty of reputable additive free brands at your local supermarket so check out their online stores to see what’s out there before you head out shopping at your chosen store.  Write down the brands you are going to buy on your shopping list and where you can get them.  This tip will save you time in the store and help avoid your kid lets getting to the boredom stage half way through the shopping trip.

3. PLAN YOUR TRIP

When shopping for additive free foods, you may have to go to more than one store to get all you need.  Plan ahead and find out where your local suppliers of good food are located.  Depending on your budget and personal choice, you could aim to shop at your local farmers markets, wholefood stores, co-ops or supermarkets. Put together a bit of a plan in your head about where you’re going and in what order, so you’re not dragging the kids from pillar to post and your shopping trip doesn’t feel like a race around the world.  Click here to see my budget friendly shopping tips, which will influence your store choice. 

4. PICK THE BEST TIME

We all know the joys of a tired or hungry child.  Be clever about your shopping time and day and avoid heading out after a massive late night or just before afternoon kip time.  Unless of course you have a toddler that will go straight to sleep once the pram motion kicks in and buy you a few hours! To avoid the hunger pains, go shopping just after feeding time at the zoo and even if their tummies are full, follow my next tip too.

5. PACK SNACKS

Not only is it a bad idea to shop hungry, it’s a somewhat foolish one to attempt a shopping trip with a hungry child.  Add into the equation the temptation of a multitude of additive laden foods at kid height (yes they do that on purpose) and you have a battle in the making.  So plan ahead, and most importantly, have your child choose the foods to bring from home.  Make rules about what it is they can choose so their choices are within acceptable boundaries.  For example, “you can pick 2 savoury snacks from the fridge (carrot, cheese, etc) and one sweet food to bring from cupboard.”  Keep it limited to finger food that doesn’t create a mess or require helping hands.

6. GET THEM INVOLVED!

Another favourite philosophy of mine and useful for so many situations!  If you get your kids involved, they are more likely to enjoy themselves and become helpful pleasant company instead of nagging tag alongs.  Assigning jobs or tasks fosters a feeling of importance and responsibility, especially if you give it some theatrics… “You are now the official list holder and check-er-off-er-er” (best said with a flourish of hand movements and half a bow).

Better still, discuss beforehand how your kidlets can help in the shops and allocate tasks/roles before you get there.  Ask them what they’d like to do to help. What can the jobs be?  Depending on their age, anything from holding the basket, pushing the trolley, carrying a bag of goodies, packing them in the car, getting the next thing on the list or helping you make a choice between products.  The key here is to make it FUN!  You want this to be a positive experience so they’ll feel your nice vibes and share that nice energy.

7. MAKE IT EDUCATIONAL

Why not break out the teacher voice and make the shopping experience a learning one too?  Food intelligence can start at any age.  Talk about the types of food, names of them, how you spell them, where you find them in the store, why they’re good for you, what they taste like, which foods are best avoided like the plague, how you would cook them, what foods are friends and taste good together, how funny some foods look (hello celeriac!), how fun it is to say the word (broccoli), get them to count how many shelves up they have to look to see the next thing on the list.  The options are endless!  The more you model the wonders of good food, the more they’ll be interested and engaged, and hopefully end up learning something or even share your beliefs.  Plus, most kids love to talk the leg off an iron table and ask a thousand questions in 5 minutes.  As the saying goes, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!  Give them lots to converse about with you, and watch the shopping time fly by.

8. PACK ENTERTAINMENT

This one is especially good for the littlies or when you’ve exhausted all the games and assigned jobs.  Make up a ‘shopping trip grab bag’ full of goodies only ever used when hitting the shops and constantly change the stash (that way it’s like Christmas all over again and they’re not bored with the toy in 2 seconds!).  Pick things that are known favourites, small enough to cart around without hassle, great distractions and especially good at occupying short attention spans.  This is such an individual choice I’m hesitant to give suggestions, but my kids used to love the good old pop it in the mouth and chew on it whilst it squeaks kind of toy when littlies, or the fabulous Etch a sketch when slightly older.  Toys that involve as many senses as possible will also work best – something to look at and touch and makes sounds is a winner.  Yes, you can also go for the neglect-a-thon 3000 and hand over your phone or ipad with games that are sure to amuse, providing you choose apps that don’t require your help every 5 seconds and it’s in a protective case that won’t result in your device shattering into 1000 pieces on the always rock hard supermarket floor (yes, experience speaks loud here for some I’m sure!).

9. OUTLINE EXPECTATIONS FOR BEHAVIOUR

Kids work best if they know the rules – hard to play any game without them really.  So if they know what’s expected of them and what’s not acceptable, they’re more likely to choose the right behaviour.  Make a contract with your kids before going.  Ask them what they think is acceptable behaviour in the shops.  Discuss what you would like to see and use positive words that outline the good stuff rather than lots of ‘don’ts’.  For example, “Quiet voices and walking legs are what we like to see in the supermarket”.  “Running legs and shouting voices are for in the park”.  “Hand in pockets when near glass things”. “Ask before touching”, etc.  Remind them you are only buying what’s on the shopping list.  Talk about why you’re doing an additive free shopping trip so they are aware junk food is not part of the list or options.  Negotiate beforehand with your kids about consequences – the good and the bad.  Ask your kids what they think is a fair consequence if they misbehave.  Avoid ‘if you…’ statements and go for more direct words without threats.  For example, “after we have a nice shopping trip with beautiful behaviour, we can go to the park to run around and release all that sitting and walking energy.”  Or “speaking rudely to Mummy and running in the supermarket will mean there’s no story time when we get home.”  Be sure to follow through on those promises of course!

10. PRAISE

As you make your way through the shopping, be sure to let your kids know how grateful you are for their good choices in behaviour.  Too often, we leave it until they have lost their cool and then we react (in a negative way), instead of mentioning in the moment how wonderful the half an hour of great behaviour was before it all hit the fan.  Say nice things as they’re showing them during the shopping expedition and reward the behaviours you want to see, instead of the ones you don’t.  Keep the good vibes and positive reinforcement flowing and be sure to thank them for their nice behaviour and acknowledge their help at the end too.  Talk about what a pleasant experience your shopping trip was with them and how you love going shopping with them when they make such fabulous choices for behaviour.  Most importantly, make sure the reward is a non food one and opt for a big hug, a story or a play in the park instead.

So there you have it.  10 ways to ensure you have a lovely additive free shopping experience with your little ones!  Let me know how you go trying out these tips by commenting below or click here to leave me a message on Facebook.  I’d love to hear if you’ve got some tips to add to the list too!

Happy shopping!

Loren x