Getting children interested in grocery shopping can be a difficult task, but involving them in the process can be engaging and will help teach them more about the food they eat, and also where that food came from. Next time you head to the farmers market, bring your kids along and follow these tips to make the outing fun, educational, and impactful.
1. Make it a teaching moment.
There is a lot to be learned at the farmers market. While walking around the market, explain the benefits of buying locally-grown food. Strike up a conversation with the farmer at your favorite produce booth, and help your child understand their food is coming right from their own community. This will help establish more appreciation for the food they eat, and their neighbors who grow it. When you pick up a bundle of fresh, in-season carrots, talk about the way they were grown and harvested before reaching your hands. Turn the market into a story, an adventure to be explored between your kids and their favorite foods.
2. Let them pick out food.
Before heading to the market, find a new recipe or pick a family favorite. Write down the ingredients together, and turn it into your child’s personal shopping list. While you’re at the market, help your kids seek out the ingredients and pick out the fruits and veggies that look the best to them. Encourage them to connect with the food by smelling, feeling and appreciating the items on their list that will eventually be a meal on their plate. Getting children involved with the food process can make them more likely to eat and enjoy it, and is also a great way to introduce your kids to new foods.
3. Play a game.
A great way to engage your children at the market is to have a scavenger hunt! After writing out your shopping list, come up with clever clues for each item. When you get to the market, read the clues to your kids and have them search for the food. This is especially great for younger children, as it can help them learn and identify different types of food.
4. Have them ask questions.
Kids learn by asking questions. While you’re shopping around, let your children ask the farmers questions. Why are some carrots purple and others orange? How long does it take for a strawberry to grow? Why did you want to become a farmer? Come up with questions together the night before, or even when they pop into your child’s head at the market. If you stumble upon a strange fruit or vegetable you’ve never seen before, ask the grower what it is and how to use it in recipes. Encourage your kids to be curious, entertained, and engaged by the shopping experience.
5. Let them pay.
If you’re paying in cash, farmers market trips are a great way to help kids learn more about counting money, budgeting, and participating in common social interactions. After they’ve picked out their favorite items and ingredients from their list, help them add up the total and check-out at the booth. If you’re a SNAP customer, show them how to use your Double Up Food Bucks tokens to pay for even more fresh fruits and veggies.
When you make your shopping trips a family affair, it pays off for both you and your children. Everyone can learn something new at the farmers market, and it can turn into an educational and exciting new family tradition.