surviving the weekly shop

Surviving the weekly shop

Surviving the weekly shop with one or more kids in tow is no mean feat. But with a little preparation plus a few clever tricks up your sleeve, the weekly trip to the supermarket can a fun and stress-free experience (we promise!).

Surviving the weekly shop: Top tips to make it easier

Preparation is key

Young children have a limited tolerance for drawn out shopping trips, so it pays to be organised. Write up your list of exactly what you need to buy before you enter the supermarket. If you happen to know the layout of your supermarket, you could arrange the items by aisle, which will save you time and energy.

Fed and watered

There is nothing worse than ‘hangry’ kids in the supermarket. Make sure that your child has had a good rest and is not hungry before you start the shop. Change her nappy before you head out and bring some spares in case of emergency!

Distraction, distraction, distraction

Younger toddlers will appreciate toys that clasp onto the shopping trolley handles. Favourite teddy bears and board books are also good for keeping little ones entertained.

surviving the weekly shop

Let them help

Give your toddler a sense of importance by asking her to hold small items and point out where groceries are in the aisles. Ask her to choose the colour of apples or which yoghurts they would like – this is a great opportunity to teach number and colour recognition. Ask them to hold grocery items for you hold the shopping list. Older children will enjoy reading off the list and crossing off items as you place them in the trolley.

Stick to the one shop

Make life easier for yourself by buying all your grocery items under the one roof. This is why a list is so important!

Be realistic

Todders and small kids get tired very easily. Set yourself a time limit of one hour – which again brings us back to the importance of a list! At the same time, be prepared to make a quick exit if you need to. Young children are fickle – be prepared for potential tantrums or nappy emergencies!

Have fun

Play games with your toddler. For example, “I spy with my little eye.. a red fruit.” Sing nursery rhymes chat to her about the different foods in the aisles.

Aisle snacks

Pack some healthy snacks – rice cakes, bananas for your toddler to nibble on while you shop.

Meal plan

Sit down and wirte a list of what meals you and your family plan to eat in the coming week and stick to this while shopping. This will help you spend less on impulse buys and you’re not as likely to get distracted and pick up less healthy foods or things you don’t need.

Manage expectations

Talk to your child before you hit the shops about what they’ll be allowed to have so they know what to expect. This will particularly help when you reach the sweets aisle.

Meal planning in advance

A great way to stock up is to think of what you might eat at different mealtimes:

  • Breakfast – have cereal, milk and juice in stock
  • Lunch – have cheese, yoghurts, eggs, tins of beans, bread in the freezer and longer life fruits such as bananas or dried fruit
  • Dinner – chicken breasts or frozen mince or fish, rice, noodles and pasta; frozen veg, tinned fruits and longer life veg such as onions are ideal.

Batch cook

Devote a day to making family classic meals such as shepherd’s pie, homemade burgers or chilli con carne, and freeze into portions – these will come in very handy on busy days.

burgers with bacon

Grocery List

Keep things like tinned beans, pasta, flour, tinned tuna and salmon on hand,  so you always have ingredients to whip up a quick and tasty meal. Stock up on items that have a long shelf life, like tinned goods, pasta, and grains.

A typical weekly shop could include the following items:

✔ Tinned fish, tomatoes, tomato purée, peas and beans
✔ Pasta and rice
✔ High fibre or wholegrain breakfast cereals
✔ Frozen vegetables
✔ Tea/coffee
✔ Skinless chicken or turkey fillets, minced beef, lamb or pork
✔ Pet Food
✔ Milk, cheese and yoghurts
✔ Olive oil
✔ Salt and pepper, and herbs
✔ Eggs
✔ Fruit, vegetables and herbs
✔ Bread


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Q. I’m would like to start an exercise programme that will benefit my emotional health as much as my physical health, but I don’t know which type of class would be best. Should I consider choosing from yoga, pilates, tai chi, or could you recommend a class, please?

A It’s great that you have decided to get into exercise. The benefits to you are going to be great. You’ll sleep better, have more energy, better skin, reduced stressed, not to mention all the amazing physical benefits of your clothes fitting better, and looking healthy, trim and toned! My advice to you would be to try them all. Even if some don’t offer pay-as-you-go sessions, if you get in touch directly with the instructor, they will almost always let you try it out first to see if it’s for you. All of the above things that you mentioned are great for mental health, so it really will be a personal preference as to which you go for. On top of the classes you mention, all forms of exercise will give you great mental rewards so consider the not so obvious interval training sessions, bootcamp, and circuits too, as you will also feel on top of the world after a class like that.


Ask Sarah

Q I’ve heard a lot about the Paleo diet and as I am very interested in reducing the amount of processed foods and grain based meals my family eats, we are considering following this diet. From what I read it seems to be a back-to-basics type of eating. Is a Paleo diet safe for children? My kids are aged seven and nine.

A The Paleo diet is one of the most fashionable diets around at the moment. It is also known as the ‘caveman diet’ and is based on cutting out processed foods, starchy foods like bread and potatoes and eating more meat, vegetables and fruit.
As fad diets go, it is not the worst but there are some good and bad sides to it. Reducing the amount of processed foods we eat is always a good idea and by doing that you will usually reduce the amount of fat, salt and sugar you eat, which is a good thing! The problem with the Paleo diet is that it also cuts out dairy (on the basis that cavemen didn’t drink milk) and this means that the diet is very low in calcium. For this reason it is really not suitable for children who do need a lot of calcium for growing bones. How did cavemen manage without dairy? They ate a lot more food than we do (up to 10,000 calories per day compared to the 2,000 most of us eat). By eating that amount of food they were able to pick up just enough calcium from green vegetables and seeds. To put it in perspective, you would need to eat 16 servings of broccoli a day to get all the calcium you need. This is easier to do if you eat 10,000 calories per day rather than 2,000.
The other problem with the paleo diet is that it is not entirely based in science. Many of the Paleo diets out there say you should not eat wheat, even though we know that cavemen did in fact eat wheat and other grains. These diets also don’t recommend that you eat blubber and the big lumps of fat that were also a large part of the caveman diet!
A final problem is that many Paleo diets encourage people to cut out beans and lentils and to get their protein from meat and fish instead. Many studies over the last few years are clear that eating too much animal protein is linked with more cancer and heart disease. Eating some vegetarian meals based on beans and lentils is a great way to get your protein without always going for meat.
Is this a diet we should follow? I think there is a lot we can learn from the Paleo diets. We could all do with eating less salt, sugar and processed foods and adding in more nuts and seeds as well as more vegetables. However, I think following a strict Paleo diet could lead to low levels of calcium and vitamin D and so it is not suitable for children or teens and adults would need to think about a calcium supplement.