Supermarket Grazing

Iccleanne asked me if I allow my kids to eat food in the grocery store before I buy it. Probably half a dozen times in my parenting career I have allowed it. Usually it has been a baby or young toddler who is really melting down. And then only something healthy–for example, I’ll hand them a slice of bread from a loaf in my cart–nothing really thrilling. I figure if I only do it with healthy food, I decrease the chance that a child will feel entitled to the M&M’s in the cart NOW.

I’ve never fed my kids grapes or anything else sold by weight– in fact, I feel guilty if a grape falls on the floor as I’m putting the bag of grapes in my cart. I also never feed an older child who I know can wait– this is strictly an emergency measure for teeny ones when I’ve failed to remember a snack in my purse.

A side note: a few months ago, one of my little ones had a streaming nose from a bad cold. I went thru all the Kleenex in my purse and didn’t feel bad at all about using Kleenex out of the box I hadn’t bought yet to make her more presentable. I figured that anyone who had to look at the child would support this choice! And yes, once I got to the checkout I did buy the box.

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  1. As always you have your head well screwed on, unlike the families/parents I see in the supermarket. Yesterday the child was in no distress and wasn’t that young – they were eating something sweet from a bag that came from the bakery. Granted they will pay the same price, but it gives the wrong message to the child.

    I am sure your children have learnt that when you say NO, you mean it, and so they give up after not too long. My Mum taught me no meant no, if I pushed her too far it resulted in a very short smack=lesson learnt, I wasn’t going to try that again.

  2. I once did this unintentionally. Aidan was a baby and while I was checking for broken eggs he pilfered a yogurt out of the back of the basket, bit through the foil top and sucked out the Yoplait, vampire style.

  3. Hilarious! Once I was walking through the store pushing my shopping cart and saw an egg under the cart. Ooops…someone’s spilling, I thought. A few feet further, there was another egg. I looked ahead of our cart to see if an egg trail would point the culprit. But there were no eggs in front of our cart, only behind it. That’s when I looked into my cart just in time to see my two year old (who was sitting in the back of the cart, not the baby seat), methodically tossing a third egg onto the ground from the open carton on her lap. I was sooooo embarrassed!


  4. I’ve been known to open a bag of cookies that are in our cart to keep a starving toddler from screaming through the rest of our shopping, but for the most part they cope without snacks… however, the nice ladies in the bakery department give cute kids cupcakes when they pass by and my children are VERY cute. So they call the grocery store “The Free Cupcake Store”, which is going to lead to a sad awakening when they grow up.

  5. THIS is one of those “never say never” topics! Just when you think you’ve got this parenting thing down enough to comment on it, you find that you had no idea what you were talking about. SO I’d like to say that I never feed my kids things we haven’t purchased yet, but well, I don’t want to find myself doing just that tomorrow when I visit the grocery store! 🙂


  6. Once on a shopping trip to the local Wal-M*art, I noticed a slippery trail behind our cart. It seems that the toddler had figured out the lid to a bottle of shampoo but then lost interest and discarded it back into the cart….upside down. We were leaving a shampoo trail behind us, up and down every aisle. But it smelled nice.

  7. I’m glad to learn a lesson in manners here. I honestly had never thought a thing about opening a package of crackers to keep my baby busy while I shopped. It seemed to make perfect sense to me. Of course, I always pay for it! I would never give them anything that had to be weighed. I am now kind of embarrassed. I wonder how many times people have walked by our cart thinking the less of us for it. Glad to know! And I did just give my toddler a slice of bread the other night and I liked it because there was no mess to pick up behind us. Maybe I can just compromise with bread…hmmm…..

  8. this is very funny. before i had my child i always frowned upon kids eating in carts. however – just the other day one of the grocers(!) handed my daughter (22 months) fresh cut melon and she was in heaven! you kind of had to be there watching her in the seat of the cart slurping down melon and having it drip dwn her face. it was a sticky mess – but nothing i could do about it since the man was being so nice.

  9. I have been known to buy a bag of popcorn or something at the little snack bar of Wal-Mart or other stores so the kids can have a snack while they are riding or walking along. It calms them and makes them happy. Plus, I usually get myself something to sip while I’m walking along. Anything to make grocery shopping more pleasurable!

  10. As one of the freaky allergy moms, I cringe whenever I watch kids eat in the grocery store, because it is all food we can’t eat (you really can’t eat our staples – produce & meat at the grocery store).

    I have brought a few little snacks for the kids when they were little, but that was in toddler-hood.

    I’m giggling about all the spillage – sounds like something that will happen to me soon! 🙂

  11. Uh, Oh. I have to confess that I myself, in my advanced years, have been known to grab a bottle of water or juice out of the cooler when I am dehydrated or am having a hypoglycemic moment. I, of course, intend to pay for it at the check out, and I do so. I consider these emergencys also. I did it a couple of times for wee ones also. The key here is that you aren’t being dishonest.

  12. My husband has done this (he does the cooking, hence he does the food shopping) occasionally with the youngest. Here (in Germany), you weigh your produce in the produce section and the scale spits out a little sticker with the weight and price which you then stick to your bag or the produce itself. There have been times when dh has grabbed a banana for a thoroughly-beside-herself-toddler and just paid for the sticker at the check-out!

  13. I would give the kid packaged food if it’s in my cart anyway- who’s looking with that kind of interest anyway? And can they really tell it’s the cracker from my purse ziploc or the package?

    A recent thought percolating through my head is that I’d like to diminish the food-as-entertainment option for my 15 month-old, though. I understand letting him nibble if he’s actually got an appetite for it but I notice myself just giving it to him to keep him occupied. I’d rather he not “need” a snack while out shopping at age 33. Not that I need a snack- I could stop anytime, really.