Life skills for the win.
Maybe you’re thinking, It’s not like my kid won’t be able to figure out how to buy groceries when they leave the house. As a millennial who gained almost all of her life skills in her twenties, I beg you to reconsider; you’d be surprised how many adults avoid the meat and deli counters. And grocery shopping isn’t as simple as it sounds. Thanks to author Eve Rodsky, we know there’s mental labor attached to every domestic task.
When your children scrape the bottom of the peanut butter jar, it is their responsibility and theirs alone to add “peanut butter” to the shopping list. We use an Amazon Echo; the kids say, “Alexa, add peanut butter to my shopping list,” and it’s done. But a good old notepad works just as well. Just be sure to keep it handy in the kitchen, possibly adjacent to the peanut butter jar.
My friend’s son makes dinner for their family once a week, and that is officially my new parenting goal. What’s great about this routine is that it gives her son the gift of planning. He chooses a recipe he thinks everyone will like, checks to see what ingredients they already have and adds what they don’t to the shopping list. And finally, he moves to step three:
This is the most exciting part. For my eight-year-old daughter’s first solo shopping trip, we chose our weekly haunt: Basics Market Hillsdale. We’re there every week and the staff members recognize my daughter, so I felt comfortable letting her shop alone while I waited outside the door with our puppy. (It was heartwarming how they were all rooting for her and treating her with respect.) The size of this market is perfect for first-time shoppers; it has a small footprint but it packs a punch. They offer a curated collection of spectacular, local food, so, honestly, your kid could abandon the list and fill the cart randomly and everything in it would be delicious. Because Basics supplies their markets directly from their own farms, ranches and dairies in the Willamette Valley, you get a true farm-to-market experience at reasonable prices.
I recommend starting small with the first trip, maybe five or ten items on the list. Then work your way up to other skills, like ordering at the meat and deli counter, or remembering to add the frozen items to the cart last, so the Ruby Jewel ice cream sandwiches don’t melt while your child figures out which is a cucumber and which is a zucchini. Your child will make mistakes; it’s part of the learning process. My daughter had some serious unsalted-or-salted-butter angst, but after consulting with a staff member, she made a decision and it was fine. She breezed out of the sliding doors, holding two bags of groceries and looking prouder than she has ever looked on the piano bench. That jolt of independence made my strong daughter feel so capable.
And all it cost me was sprinkling a little salt on my buttered toast.