19 grocery games for kids that will both keep kids busy at the grocery store AND teach them valuable money lessons.
Now that my little guy is getting older, finding and creating grocery games for kids is something that’s been on my mind.
Up until recently, I've been fortunate in that my husband watched our baby once every other week − yes, we only grocery shop twice a month − so that I can hit the grocery store alone.
Yes, it's glorious.
*Cue wind in my hair as I lollygag (yes, LOTS of lollygagging) around the vegetable bins.
But you know what? Our schedule is permitting this once-every-other-week grocery break less and less.
The good news is, I'll actually want to take our little guy to the grocery store with all of these cool grocery store games for kids. Did I mention that these grocery shopping games also teach valuable money lessons?
*valuable money lessons, aisle 8*
We’ll start with some simple grocery store scavenger hunt games, and go from there.
Grocery Store Scavenger Hunt Worksheets
I absolutely love doing nature scavenger hunts with my 3.5-year-old, and I can only imagine how much more fun grocery shopping is going to be when we start doing grocery store scavenger hunts!
Supermarket scavenger hunts for kids (hint – I ordered these by PDFs appropriate for younger kids all the way to older kids):
- Picture Grocery Store Scavenger Hunt Games (kids can circle): The Very Hungry Caterpillar Grocery Store Scavenger Hunt, one with pictures that a child circles, try this one, or try this bingo scavenger hunt card kids can circle. Here’s a Garden of Eden color grocery store scavenger hunt.
- Fill-in-the-Answers Supermarket Scavenger Hunt for Kids: Kids need to search for local produce and various other types of veggies/fruits with this one.
- Hunting for Foods on Your List: Here are free food picture cards you give your child to find for you, and here’s a Supermarket Scavenger Hunt for Box Tops.
Scavenger hunts for kids are great to keep them busy…but let’s take this up a notch by adding in grocery store games that teach various money math lessons.
Grocery Store Money Math Games
You don’t just want grocery store games that keep your kids busy; you also want to take the opportunity to teach them something about money. I mean…that’s why you’re on a site called Money Prodigy, right?
One thing you can do while at the grocery store is use games to connect your child’s everyday world (eating food) to money. Are they aware of what food costs? Do healthier foods or processed foods cost more? What about comparing generic food costs with brand name food costs?
So many questions for them to discover the answers to!
I’ve got loads of ideas for money math games you can play in the grocery store. Think of them as a two-fer – they’ll keep your kids engaged (re: busy), PLUS they’ll teach them a money life skill.
1. Produce Price “Guessing” Game
If you’re like me, then you usually find the produce you want, eyeball the size you’d like, and put it in your cart.
But this is an awesome opportunity to teach your child a valuable skill (PLUS have them practice money math).
Bring a calculator to the store for each of your kids. Put each of your kids in charge of one piece of produce from your list. Have them find it, look at the price, weigh the produce, and calculate how much they think it will cost based on its weight.
Add the twist of awarding a prize for the person who comes closest, and you’ll have kids eagerly waiting at the cash register while you complete your transactions.
Psst: I’ll give you an example — a butternut squash is $1.18/lb. Your child weighs it at 3.5 lbs. They’d multiply 3.5 lbs. X $1.18, to find that the total cost will be $4.13. And if you get down to pesky ounces, just make a rule that they can round up or down, as appropriate, to half pounds.
2. I Spy – Price Edition
Oooohhhh I’m excited about this one.
You’ve likely heard of I Spy. It’s a cool game you whip out to play anywhere with your kiddos, with each person taking a turn to describe something that they spy (and the other players trying to guess what it is).
Well, I’ve got a fun twist for you.
This is going to be an I Spy – Price Edition, where your kids are given a free printable money board (take a sheet of paper, draw in 4 boxes across the top, 4 boxes down, and choose a price point to write in the top of each box – a different price sheet for each kid. I’d suggest a popular price point at grocery stores to give them lots of opportunities to find items, such as $1.99, $2.99, etc.).
With their price sheet in hand, they go through the store with you, and spy as many items as they can at the specific price they’ve been given. They’ll write in one item per box.
Then, at the end of the store (or in the car), they need to look over all of the items that they can get for the same price.
Ultimately, you want to ask them the following questions:
- What is the healthiest food I can buy for $X.XX?
- What is the least healthiest food I can buy for $X.XX?
- What is the food that would fill a person up the most for $X.XX?
A second variation to this game (once your child has mastered the first)? Have them do it using coupons. SO, they can clip coupons, subtract out the coupon price from prices on the shelf, and then fill in their I Spy card.
You can point out how much more they can stretch their money, and what better quality products they can afford using coupons!
3. Coupons = Money
This grocery store game is going to really open up your kid’s eyes.
I want you to increase your kid’s allowance by the amount of coupons they clip and you use. You read that right.
Before hitting the grocery store one time (or more often if this becomes popular in your household, as I suspect it will), have a sit down with your child.
You'll need your grocery list already written out, plus a Sunday paper (and/or check out the following online coupon sites):
Here's your child's task: have them search the coupon inserts + clip/print any that could match with your list. So, if you have tortillas on your list, and there is a brand with a coupon, then they are to clip that.
Psssst: Brand flexibility is key here, and it's a short-term sacrifice for a lifelong lesson, Mama Bear.
Then at the grocery store, put your child in charge of alerting you to when they have a coupon for a particular item. Have them find the item, verify that it's the right size/variety, and add it to the cart.
At the cash register, have them hand over the coupons they were able to use.
The magical part of this? Every dollar they saved you (or $0.35) by using a coupon they personally clipped, equals an extra dollar they get tacked onto their allowance for the week.
I told you this one might get super popular in your household!
3 Ways to Make Grocery Shopping Fun
This next set of grocery shopping games for kids are great ways to make grocery shopping fun by making your child more engaged in the process – your child will be asked to complete actions as prep-work to grocery shopping, and/or after you guys get home.
1. Generic Brand Ingredient Checker
Have a short discussion with your child about regular brands versus generic brands.
Mama Bear Cheat Tips:
- Cost: Generic brands will likely always be cheaper (though sometimes a sale on a regular brand can beat the price).
- Quality: Sometimes generic brands are not as high quality as the regular brand because they've cut corners on ingredients in order to bring the cost down. So, you need to give it a try and see.
- Coupons: Most of the time you cannot find coupons for generic brands, only for regular brands.
Once you are in the store, you'll want your child to pick up a regular brand + its generic counterpart so that they can compare the prices + ingredients.
Some interesting products to try:
- Pharmaceuticals: The pharmaceutical industry is closely regulated. So, “[g]eneric drugs are required to have the same active ingredient, strength, dosage form, and route of administration as the brand name product.” However, there can be different inactive ingredients.
- Aluminum Foil: I have found that the generic version is almost always more than the regular brand. So, this is a good one to bring home the lesson of quality + also the lesson of “sometimes less quality is still perfectly fine” (because let's face it, the thin stuff works just as well as the thick stuff).
2. Generic Brand Blind Taste Testing
Have your child choose 3 different products in your home that you normally buy at the grocery store each week (or bi-weekly if you're like us).
This trip, have them choose both the regular brand product, AND a generic version of it.
Note: if you get to the grocery store and there is no generic version to a product they chose, suggest another to them as you walk through your normal routine.
At home, have your child set up a blind test with family members.
On a table, set up both products to be taste tested so that no one can tell which product is the regular brand, and which product is the generic version (so take the product out of the containers and put them into a bowl or on a plate).
Put a line down the middle of a sheet of paper, listing the two products and their prices at the top of the sheet.
After tasting each of the three products, have each family member vote for which they like best. Reveal whether it was the regular brand or its generic version.
Have your child answer these four questions:
- Which product wins out?
- Are you guys ready to change to a generic version?
- Choose one product that you may or may not change to the generic version. Assuming you purchase this product once a month, how much money are you saving by getting the generic instead of the regular brand? Do this by subtracting the generic cost from the regular brand cost, then multiplying that price difference by 12 (to see annual savings).
- What else could the family do with that money?
3. Cash Scanner
Give your child the official title of Cash Scanner by putting them in charge of getting cash back after you return home (heck, even in the car ride back).
They'll need to download one or all of the following savings scanning apps to your smart phone (or their own if they have one), either the iPhone or Android.
Note: there are lots of these types of apps out there, but some are more complicated than others. These are the easiest ones to manage.
- ReceiptPal App: You snap a photo of your receipt, it gets validated, and you earn points that can be cashed in for gift cards. Also, you can scan in receipts from any merchant to get points, such as from convenience stores, restaurants, clothing stores, gas stations, etc. FYI there's a wait list to join because so many people are interested. I hope you get in!
- ReceiptHog App: Snap photos of your receipts and receive “coins” you can use towards Amazon gift cards or Paypal cash. Yes, real cash! FYI there's a wait list to join because so many people are interested. I hope you get in!
- Fetch Rewards: This app pays you points that you can redeem for gift cards or cash for each receipt that gets scanned.
Receipts are about to become MUCH more interesting in your household!
Grocery Shopping List Games
1. Secret Mission: Grocery Store Edition
Are you ready to send your child on a Secret Mission: Grocery Store Edition?
Let your kids know that you’re all going to the grocery store together, but that this time, they will have a secret mission to complete while there.
And if they complete it in time (“in time” meaning before you get to the checkout counter)? Then there may be goodies for them at home.
Here’s how to set this up:
- Prep an Envelope: Take an envelope, and write “Secret Mission” on the outside of it.
- Create a Secret Mission for Each Child: Use your grocery shopping list, and perhaps the weekly circular. Write on a piece of paper the exact item that you need your child to find. OR, cut out a picture from a circular of an exact item that you need your child to find.
- Give Your Kid a Budget: You can also include a budget on the slip of paper, meaning you can say “find the Starbucks Decaf Ground Pike’s Peak coffee, for $7.98 or less”. In order for them to meet the price, they might have to get a smaller-sized package, or they might have to ask you to get the generic. Either way, their brains are turning and thinking about money and budgets!
- Decide on a Prize: What will your child get if they complete their mission?
The cool thing is, you can make SO many variations of this game. It should last you for many grocery store trips!
Technically, this is a group date created by the Dating Divas. But you know what? I think it would work perfectly for kids/family group date as well!
Your kids get to guess how much they think some common food items cost at the store. Think items like a can of Campbell’s Chicken Soup, and Jiffy’s Extra Chunky Peanut Butter.
They write their guess down on their own game board (card), then everyone heads out to grocery shop. Each person finds the actual products while grocery shopping, and they record thee real price. See who was closest, without going over!
What a fun way to add a little awareness into your kid’s lives about the cost of items they use every day.
Grocery Store Board Games
Here are some fun grocery store board games that will get your kids interested in shopping + the price of ingredients, from home.
1. Shopping List
Age: 3-7 years
This is actually a grocery list memory game that will get your child familiar with lots of different food items found at a grocery store. Each child (2-4 players) picks a basket or cart to use, and a grocery list. Players take turns turning over the cards, and if the item they see is listed on their grocery list, they can pick it up and put it in their cart.
It would be fun for them to take a card or two to the grocery store, and identify the product in real life as well! You could then point out the cost of it, so that they start to understand that food costs money.
Grocery Store Cashier Games
You’ll want to check out my More Than, Less Than grocery store cashier game for kids, which gets kids working on things like pricing products, restocking items, and comparing costs of items for their pretend grocery store at home.
You can also find my cash register pretend play starter kit (both of these are for younger aged kids).
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