Grocery Shopping Etiquette

Happy Monday!  I’m really excited to hear what you all think about this two sided topic. 🙂

Sometimes, when we’re grocery shopping, we will get something in the store like a box of crackers for example, and I will let Lucas eat some as we finish our shopping trip adventures. Then, we just pay for it (obviously) on our way out along with our other groceries. Sometimes the clerk makes a remark, letting us know the box is open and I reply, “oh, we just got hungry!”
My brother and I used to do this with my mom when we went the store. I remember we would buy donuts and eat them as we walked the aisles, and then once we got to the check out lane we would tell them the donut item number and pay for it. Oh, good times. (Let me clarify that this was during TEENAGE years, not toddler years!) 
So if you’re not suppose to do this I’m totally blaming it on my mom. 
Ha. Just kidding mom. 
My husband used to think this was crazy. Now I catch him doing it all the time! I think it’s completely fine as long as you pay for the item, of course.  It makes shopping easier at times because I can let Lucas have a new snack, and you know what, a happy toddler = a happy mom. Or is the other way around? Well, whatever, I like snacks too. I’ll open a bottle of water or pop too, if I want. No big deal. 
Alright, I’m dying to hear what you think.  Do you do this too, or am I the only one? 

Published by Samantha Mellen

Certified personal trainer & health coach helping women transform their lives through fitness, abundant mindset coaching and internal peace. Mom of two boys, living life in Alaska.

42 thoughts on “Grocery Shopping Etiquette

  1. Growing up, we weren't allowed to do this! So, when my kids ask, my first instinct is to say no! But I don't think its wrong, just not something we did!

  2. I was never allowed to do that growing up. I do it with my 3yr old now. I don't encourage it but if I know she is a little hungry I will let her open a package of goldfish or something fairly clean.

  3. You are totally not the only one! We did it as kids too and I do it now w/ my kids. I agree – it can make a grocery store visit much more enjoyable 🙂 And since the deli guys always hands out slices of cheese to my kids, I think the store is fine w/ it too 🙂

  4. My kids know that the food has to be paid for before they can have it, but sometimes if they're especially fussy my husband will go and buy something for them to snack on while we're still shopping if we don't have anything in the diaper bag for them. I've found that it's easier to just tell them they have to wait until things are purchased than it is to keep them out of the things they aren't supposed to be into.

  5. I give Grace things to hold and play with, but we don't let her eat them until we get home. I don't think it's wrong though. As a store owner, I would rather the child be quiet and happily snacking on something (that will be bought) than screaming and crying, disrupting the peace!

  6. I didn't go shopping with my mom often, I was too much of a pain! And now, as I browse the grocery store, though I am tempted,,, I never thought it was allowed!

  7. I have done it…I don't do it all the time, but we mainly shop at Trader Joes and they give samples and treats to kids, so we have that on our side! lol….I don't think there is anything wrong with it at all. I remember our mother giving us a piece of cheese from the deli counter and no one ever said not to.

  8. I don't do it. I almost did once but I just feel wrong about it. We usually eat before we go to the store. If not and I know my daughter is hungry we'll go to the deli/bakery and buy something and I let her eat that. I just don't feel right about letting her eat something I haven't paid for. It's kinda like stealing I think. But I know people who do it. I don't look at them horribly or judge them for it. I just don't do it myself.

  9. My mother did this too. I don't. If my kids want a snack, I run up, pay for it, get a paid sticker, then finish my shopping. I guess I don't feel it is ours to consume until we have paid. What if their credit card machines are down, I have to leave due to a tantrum etc? Just my opinion though. 🙂

  10. I have done that with my kiddos. Some times it just has to be done 🙂 I just make sure I let the kids know that we always pay for something even if we've finished it.

    I usually set the item aside & hand it directly to the clerk & let them know we opened it. I've never had anyone give me the “evil eye” either 🙂

  11. We fall on the 'wrong' side of the argument. Technically, you haven't paid for it yet. I won't let my daughter open anything–I tell her it's not ours if we haven't paid for it. If she needs a snack, she takes what we've brought with us, or she sucks it up and we shop a little faster. Then again, I grew up with a mom who worked retail from the time I was about 9 and every time someone 'stole' something, the chance of her getting a raise or a bonus went down. Granted, you DO pay for yours, but some things go by weight, so if some kid (not yours).. eats a bunch of grapes, then they're not paying for that amount and all the people who work really hard (for minimum wage, and most likely no health insurance) get screwed over. It's not the same with something that's sold by the box or whatever, but to me it's essentially the same. Hopefully you can see my reason 'why' from that garble. So no, we don't 'sample' grapes in the package to see if they are sweet, either. We take our chances. If we were really desperate, I'd go and pay for one thing and let my daughter have it, asking them to staple the receipt to the box/pkg so they would know it was paid for when we came through with everything else.

  12. We weren't allowed to as children, but I have on the very rare occasion done it with my nieces/nephews or Luke. I try to be prepared with my OnTray & snacks that I know Luke will be happy with. I also always have a sippy cup. If it is something that I want to eat/drink I normally just pay for it & then eat it while I shop. (Saving the receipt in case someone questions me.) I normally get dinner/lunch at the Subway located in the grocery store & I always go to the deli first & get the cut lunch meat that Luke likes….then I don't have to pay the Subway's prices for a couple slices of turkey for him to eat.

  13. We did this as kids ( with my dad being the ring leader), but I have never done it as an adult. It was usually with pistachios of all things! he would weigh them and put the price on the bag. sometimes we would just give the checkout person an empty bag!
    I think its fine as long as you pay for it…oh and i rarely take the kids with me so I don't have to open any snacks!

  14. My mom used to do this when we were kids but I don't do. I wouldn't frown upon anyone who does it but for us there just isn't any point. I always have a container of home made trail mix in my purse so we're never without snack! Ever since our daughter was old enough for more than just breast milk there's been a rotation of water and snack in my purse constantly. The only downside is that now anytime we go anywhere she's in the habit of having a snack haha! But I suppose that's not much different the the kiddos that are used to getting to open a box at the store 🙂

  15. We do this with our son, Asher (20 months), so long as it's something that doesn't have to be weighed (like grapes). Usually it happens because we've run out of snacks in the diaper bag, and we're at the store to restock. And then, of course, he sees the snacks and wants them.

    I never did this, growing up, but apparently Boyfriend did (or he doesn't see the harm in it).

  16. I never allowed my boys to do this. And they never asked either. It looks like this is something that families do or don't do. Growing up, my Mom never offered us anything that wasn't paid for~ If it was purchased we knew then we could ask for it. Interesting debate here. Nice post.

  17. I do that too. Especially in the produce section. I have clerks make comments but they'd make comments about screaming children as well!!!! 🙂 a happy toddler is a happy mom 🙂

  18. My mom used to let us do that, too. And I've done it occasionally with my kids. It's not a every-time habit, but I don't there is anything wrong with it if you plan to pay for it.

  19. I've done it. 90% of the time I have a snack in my bag. (small box of raisins, granola bar or a banana) Occasionally, I've forgotten to re-stock the snack stash LOL and I have given Brady a granola bar or some gold fish out of a package that we are buying. I've never had a clerk say anything. I would NEVER NEVER do this with produce though. Produce is purchased based on weight. They can't weigh what we've already eaten!

  20. I've always done this, my mom use to give me green onions to munch ( I know yuck but I seemed to enjoy it). I've had to stop them from eating the grapes though because those are by the pound. Everything else though is fair game, I'm paying for it, I can eat it whenever I want to. haha

  21. In some instances, merely opening the package could be construed as shoplifting. I am more in the favor of paying for something and then finishing shopping! What if they drop the empty? Or hide it on the shelf when you're not looking?

    Confession: I did this once. Out of sheer desperation with two kids under 5, I let them have a snack from the cart. I nearly *died* when I realized my wallet wasn't in my purse. I was soooo mortified. I had to call my husband to have him bring over the debit card. He had to leave work – 15 minutes away – because I couldn't bring myself to leave the store, drive 25 minutes home and then 25 minutes back with them thinking I would never return.

  22. I give Reese snacks but only ones with barcodes and not tare/weight dependent produce. Cheesesticka rock. At two years old he doesn't understand paying for it before it's ours.

  23. I think it would be pretty hard for him to hide a huge box of nilla wafers on the shelf without me seeing. 🙂

    You have to do what you have to do. If Lucas is screaming crackers and he wants some, I mean- whatever. It’s not that big of a deal to me. I always tell him we have to pay for them when we leave as he puts it on the register and then they had it back to him. Does he understand this? probably not. But whatever.

    I’m glad to know I’m not the only one!! 🙂 I’m also glad for those of you that don’t do it, also don’t think it’s not necessarily “Bad” for those of us who DO do it!

  24. We do this too, though I try not to if possible. I would much rather have my kids happily munching on something than screaming, for sure! I think it's fine as long as it's not something you're paying for by weight. 🙂

  25. OOOOH I'm a bad Mom . . . One time my Daughter was litterly screaming for a banana (she loves them) I gave it to her to hold and she bit right into it and started sucking it out. She ended up eating the whole thing, when I went up to pay I told the cashier I would pay 2.00 for the one banana she ate, it was worth it to me. She was very polite and said not to worry about it, at least she was picking a healthy snack! Now I try not to let her see the bananas as I put them in the cart. Us desperate Mommys sometimes need to do what we can to keep our insanity!

  26. While I don't do this for myself (or cranky husband) I would absolutely crack open a box of granola bars or crackers for my future children if it meant keeping the peace in the store. Everyone loves happy kids. 🙂

  27. I work in a grocery store and people do that ALL THE TIME. How does the store feel about it, you ask? We don't care at all. I can't begin to tell you how many empty wrappers I ring up. As long as you pay for it, nobody cares.

  28. My mom almost always grabbed a fruit roll up for us as soon as we got to the store, and just paid for it on the way out. No one ever cared.

  29. I used to work at Target and rang up empty or open packages on a daily basis!!!! I see absolutely nothing wrong with it so long as you pay! 🙂 Now that I have kids….do it all the time! Almost always we eat goldfish crackers during our shopping trip, the only place we don't do is Sams Club, we just get a pretzel before we start our shopping trip!

  30. We do this too!! If (and that is a big IF) I remember to bring along a snack (or it wasn't already eaten at a previous store that day then we survive without opening a box. I would say about 3/4 of the time we open a box and pay for it with the rest of the stuff.

  31. We do this all the time and I've never had a checker act like it was a problem at all.

    One grocery we go to has a salad bar and I often get grilled chicken and watermelon (her choices), weigh them and put the price sticker on the box, then let Peeper (29 mos) eat them going through the store.

    Several times, the checker has scanned it and then just tossed our empty box in the trash!

  32. Also, at the same grocery, you weigh and sticker your produce yourself as you select it, so we could, theoretically, munch on that, too, but I don't think we have (except the time she grabbed an apple and took a big bite before I noticed!) because I prefer to wash it first.

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