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Why I Take My Kids Grocery Shopping

by Leanne Ely

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Do you grab your purse and duck out the door the minute you know your kids are looked after so you can shop for groceries alone?

While it's a nice treat to do the food shopping by yourself from time to time, I think that it's very important to bring the children along with you whenever you can. Shopping for food is a crucial life skill, and the best way for them to learn how to select produce and to spot the best deals is for you to actually show them.

If you're worried about your little ones asking for treats and misbehaving in the store, just remember that teaching them how to act in public and how to respond to hearing the word "no" are also important life skills! It might not be easy the first time or the third time, but you'll get there.

Now let's get back to the shopping. The first thing to remember is that you should always stick to the perimeter of the store. Why? Well, if you stick to the outside of the store, where the fresh produce, meat and dairy are, you shouldn't have any trouble with your kids begging for unhealthy treats. It also helps to ensure you're not making unhealthy choices yourself.

Here are some other shopping with kids tips for you:

Go to the market. Even better than sticking to the perimeter of the grocery store? Start out at the local farmers' market, so your kids can meet the people who grow the food you'll be eating that week. Encourage them to ask the farmers questions and to really connect with the food items they encounter.

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Let the kids choose. Try to be flexible with your grocery list and let the kids make some of those important shopping decisions. For instance, tell them you need three green vegetables, two orange vegetables, and a fruit in every other color of the rainbow. Go with the items they choose even if you foresee a disaster. The only catch should be that they'll have to eat the foods they choose when you serve them.

Talk to them. Explain how you know if one pear is ripe and one isn't. Teach them how to look for the perfect bunch of bananas. Tell them why you choose the organic kale over the other kale. Talk about the prices of items and how to tell which protein is the best deal.

Reward good behavior. When the time comes to pay for your groceries, if your child or children have not given you any grief during the shopping adventure, tell them how proud you are of the way they behaved. Consider rewarding that good behavior if it's something you've been working towards. Depending on the age and interest of your children, some ideas might be a new book, an hour at the park, a toy car, or some crayons or stickers.

Leanne Ely is a New York Times best selling author of Body Clutter and the popular Saving Dinner cookbook series. According to Woman's Day Magazine, she is the expert on family cooking.

Leanne's syndicated newspaper column, The Dinner Diva can be found in 250 newspapers nationwide and in Canada. Her vast broadcast experience includes media satellite tours, QVC several times as well as guesting on several national television shows, including HGTV's Simple Solutions, ABC Family's Living the Life, Ivanhoe's Smart Woman, Small Talk for Parents and Talk of the Town. She has guest chef-ed on the cooking show, Carolina Cooks and has taught cooking classes all over the country for Bloomingdale's.

In addition, she is a seasoned radio personality. Leanne's own radio show, Heart of A Woman aired during drive time in two major California markets, Los Angeles and San Diego. Her current show, The Dinner Diva is one of the top Blog Talk Radio shows on the Internet.

On the Internet, she pens the Food for Thought column for the immensely popular,, with over half a million readers weekly. She has been featured in Woman's Day magazine, the Chicago Tribune, St. Petersburg Times, Orange County Register - to name a few. Additionally, she is a sought after speaker and has spoken all over the country, with keynote addresses to corporate and non-profit entities. Visit Leanne Ely on Google+.

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