The Unexpected Reasons You Should Grocery Shop With Your Kids

Finally, you won't fight over which snacks to buy.

November 28, 2018
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For years, food companies packaged bright, artificially-colored foods and drinks with kid consumers in mind. These days many brands have removed artificial colors and flavors, and healthy kid-focused products are becoming easier to spot. Plus, grocery stores are making it even easier to bring your kids shopping thanks to educational activities and healthy snacks to keep them occupied and engaged in a good way. Here's what to look for the next time you're at the supermarket with your crew to make the most out of the experience for everyone.

Fun activites and healthy snacks galore! Kids at Colburn’s supermarkets get to grab a piece of fruit from a basket placed at their height. “It’s amazing how excited young shoppers get about a whole banana, orange or apple,” says Amy Peick, Supermarket Dietitian at Colburns, a Midwestern grocery chain. With an intent to add amusement to the shopping experience of future Colburn’s shoppers, the store positions hopscotch decals on the floor of the dairy, produce, and cereal aisles. The bright floor stickers have easy physical activities for kids to do on each hopscotch block.

A hands-on education in nutrition. Healthy-snack cooking classes are becoming popular ways to help children gain independence in the kitchen as well as try new foods such as whole grains or unfamiliar vegetables. Kids cooking classes at Dierbergs supermarkets include “End of the Rainbow Fruit Salad.” The Midwestern chain also places Kids Bee Healthy shelf tags on nutritious foods – often placed on store shelves at kids’ eye levels. Kids (including this author’s) are quick to spot the bees in each aisle.

Carts so kids can shop for themselves — sort of. While the controlled chaos of using mini shopping carts can add many minutes to a shopping trip, I still recommend encouraging kids to use them as they add extra activity to a child’s day. Kids can then push their cart through the dedicated healthier checkout lanes now found at many stores including ALDI, Colburns, Target, Dierbergs, Shoprite, CVS, Costco and others. In these check lanes, the usual impulse treats like candy and chocolate are replaced with better-for-you snacking options like single-serve nuts and trail mixes, dried fruits and granola bars.

Products made just for kids. I found these healthy snacks in the grocery aisles that are 100% geared toward kids! Let them grab one off the shelf the next time you take a trip to the supermarket. They're all dietitian- (and kid) approved.

• Whole grain granola bars – With 100% whole grains, dietitian-approved sugar-amounts, and colorful packaging to inspire kids to be kind to one another, KIND Kids granola bars are in smaller-portions than their regular bars. “Our KIND Kids bar recipe was tweaked to take into account feedback from kids for a softer texture, less millet, and more vanilla,” says dietitian Stephanie Perruzza, MS, RD, Healthy & Wellness Expert at KIND snacks.

• Snack on the Run Cracker Kits - My four kids are big fans of the new Bumble Bee Cheesy Tuna Melt and the Chicken Salad Kits. Plus there’s always an easy answer to “what can I pack in my lunch.”

• Kid-designed cereal – The “By Kids” note on Kashi’s new line of lower-sugar, organic cereals caught our kids’ eyes. Larger-than-life sized shapes of mini-cinnamon buns on the Kashi By Kids Honey Cinnamon cereal box were also an instant draw. At first, our kids weren’t too sure about the chickpea and red lentil ingredients, but they reasoned “if kids made the recipe, it must be good.” You know, logic.

• Freeze-dried fruit snacks – For science-minded kids, space-age freeze-dried real fruit comes in brightly colored packaging from Crispy Green. Our kids wanted to see what fruits like cantaloupe, kiwi and pineapple would taste like when freeze-dried. Spoiler alert: They're yummy.

• Hero-powered yogurt – My kids can see their favorite superheros soar across packages of Chobani Greek Yogurt Super Tubes. With only 50 calories, 5 grams of protein and 25% less sugar than some leading yogurt tubes, these snacks are set for superhero status.

Serena Ball, MS, RD is a registered dietitian nutritionist and food writer. She blogs at TeaspoonOfSpice.com sharing Healthy Kitchen Hacks and yummy recipes. Follow her @TspCurry on Twitter and @BakeMoreBread on Instagram.

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