I have been thinking about letting the children take over the weekly shop for a while and during the Easter holidays a conversation started over breakfast about what they would like to eat, which turned into what they would put on their own shopping list. It started to develop into meal planning and so I decided to let them have a go. I was really interested in what they would do if they had free rein over what would go in the trolley and whether they would stick to a plan, or just get over excited and put in lots of sweets and chocolate and not a lot else! I was interested to see if they had a good idea about healthy eating as we talk about it enough, and also if they had any idea about meals.
We started with a shopping list, Daddy started writing it and then Isabel took over with Megan adding things that she wanted as well. This did take a couple of days as I wasn’t quite ready to do a shop yet so they had time to think about it and add extras to their list. With older children you could give them a budget and see if they can shop within the budget.
Once the list was completed we looked over it and I was surprised to see Isabel had really thought about the meals we would have. She had added the ingredients for spaghetti bongolase (as she calls it), a roast dinner, and fish and chips. They had put a lot of fruit which didn’t surprise me as we eat a lot of fruit, but they had also added vegetables which was interesting as eating them can be a bit of a battle in our house at times.
We were ready to go shopping. To do this properly I promised myself I wouldn’t make any comment on the items they added to the trolley (unless it got completely out of hand & was going to cost a fortune!) The girls were really excited and had their list ready.
They were really good and stuck to their list, they did add a couple of extra items and when we arrived at the sweet isle they couldn’t help themselves, but again they chose one bag of sweets each which I thought was rather restrained of them. Megan and Charlie enjoyed collecting items from the shelves and putting them in the trolley. They did get quite excited in the Lidl extra bits isle and added some crepe paper for art activities!
Isabel loved reading her list and ticking the items off as they got them. This is a great way to help children write for a purpose and then read back their own writing. The girls also packed the shopping at the end, the lady on the till commented on how helpful they were and they both visibly puffed up with pride and gave her a big smile. Interestingly since we did this the girls will always pack the shopping at the end now, they love doing it and it really helps me out.
When we got home and looked at the shopping the girls were so proud of themselves. We wrote a menu for the week from the food they had bought and things in the cupboard and the food mostly lasted for the week (with a little top up shop from me mid week!!) Daddy even got an Easter egg out of the shop 🙂
So what was the purpose of this activity? The children were given responsibility which helps to support their confidence and independence. Writing a list practises writing skills, writing for a purpose is always more interesting and then reading it back reinforces this. Planning the food helps to support healthy eating, children need to understand that while chocolate, sweets and crisps are yummy that we can’t eat them every day for every meal. Packing the food at the end into bags helps with problem solving skills. They need to be able to work out where to put the heavy items, how many items to put in each bag, and not to underfill or overfill.
I have to say it was such a lovely experience for us all and I was impressed at their choices. I recommend giving this a go to anyone feeling brave enough 🙂