For some, grocery shopping is a chore, and for others it is a task happily taken on. However, no matter how you feel about this household chore, it is one that can’t be skipped. The kids do need to eat after all, and they need to do it every day.
But what if we could take the kid’s need to eat and make it into a set of life lessons they will never forget? The fact of the matter is, you can. By handing over the weekly meal planning, shopping, and even some of the cooking to your children, you give them an opportunity to learn and grow in many ways. From math skills to life skills, there is much to be learned from the every day act of grocery shopping. Here is how you can take advantage of these potential lessons.
Before you begin, you will need to make index cards containing a list of ingredients for potential meals as well as total cost for each meal. You can include sides on the meal cards or give them their own separate cards. For an even more educational experience, include certain nutrition facts on the cards in order to help your kids make healthy and balanced food choices.
Begin the project by giving your children a set budget for the week. Allow them to look through the index cards you made before the project began and choose meals that fit into their budget. Remind them that they must include three meals a day which will likely require some sacrifices. Encourage them to choose meals that use similar ingredients so they can buy in bulk. If you’d like to give your kids a more in depth look at money management, you could encourage your children to shop sales and use coupons. If they need an incentive to do so, offer to purchase a dessert treat with any left over grocery budget money.
If you included nutritional information on the cards, help your children decide which sides would best support the meals they have chosen. Also encourage them to look at each day as a whole to ensure they have chosen meals that compliment each other nutritionally.
Once your kids have chosen the meals for the week, have them make a comprehensive grocery list using the ingredients listed on each card. Remind them to look in the pantry and refrigerator to see what you already have in the kitchen and what they will need to buy.
When the list is finished, take the kids to the store and allow them to navigate the aisles. Point out signage that could help them find what they are looking for, and good deals that may help them save money. Help them do price comparisons whenever necessary, making sure to point out that volume should be taken into consideration, not just package size.
Once home, decide who will cook which meals. Make sure each child has at least one age appropriate meal that they are responsible for preparing. Cooking opens up a whole new world of educational experience which we discussed in this post.
If your children seem to enjoy this experience, continue to give them the opportunity to plan and shop each week. Add to the fun by allowing your kids to pick new meals to try and adding a card for each new meal to your collection. You will be surprised how good your children become at managing their funds, understanding the value of the dollar, and feeding the family well.