Grocery Shopping with Teenagers: 10 Reasons Why It Will Make Your Head Spin

If you thought shopping with toddlers was crazy, I'm pretty sure teens have 'em beat

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: Grocery Shopping with Teenagers -10 Reasons Why It Will Make Your Head Spin

Written by: Katy M. Clark

I heard the high-pitched scream from where I stood in the frozen food aisle. It carried throughout the entire grocery store before it transformed into full-blown crying. Just then I spied the source – a red-faced flailing child sitting in a shopping cart being pushed by his mother. 

I flashed back to when my teenagers were little – and shuddered. As a young mom, there was nothing as challenging as taking my wee ones to the grocery store. I remember all too well the whining, crying, wriggling, and epic meltdowns. I even abandoned my cart once just to remove my out-of-control, “tantruming toddler” from the store. 

But as I stood in front of the frozen peas, the honest truth about grocery shopping for teenagers hit me. Whether they accompany you to the store or stay home and await the week’s haul, teens can be just as challenging to shop with (and for) as when they were younger – it’s just a different kind of stress.

Here are 10 reasons why grocery shopping with teenagers will make your head spin. 


1. Bigger Kids Means Bigger Appetites

 Yup, teens eat A LOT. One day your child is eating like a normal human being and the next day – poof! They’re a teenager eating you out of house and home. And, no matter how much food they consume, they’re still hungry! I’ve never had to buy so much food in my life. Am I feeding an entire army? Nope, just teenagers.

2. Buying Food for “Always Hungry” Teenagers is Crazy Expensive

Buying huge quantities of food for teenagers is crazy expensive. And you’re not just buying for your teens, but also for their hungry friends who like to hang out and raid the fridge and their teammates who show up starving after practice. (I’m pretty sure I’m still paying off the water polo team meal I hosted years ago when I provided a breakfast that rivaled a Las Vegas buffet!)

Teens also gotta have the latest, pricy brands of toiletries like makeup or hair goo used by their favorite influencers or athletes, which means good luck saving a few dollars buying generic brands. 

3. Grocery Shopping for Teens Wears You Out Physically

Sure, you aren’t pushing those burdensome shopping baskets shaped like a race car that your kid enjoyed when they were little. But it isn’t any easier pushing an overflowing shopping cart up and down the aisles loaded with all the food and drink that people with insanely fast metabolisms eat.

And, let’s not forget that lugging copious amounts of overflowing bags into the house when you get home is enough to make you need a nap. (Unless you’re lucky enough to round up your teen to help.)

4. It’s Mentally Exhausting, Too

Not only am I calculating how much food to buy and how much it costs, but I’m considering my teens’ wildly different tastes. They never agree on the same thing. So whether I plan a meal ahead of time, or stare hopelessly at a chuck roast in the meat section waiting for inspiration to strike, I feel like I’m solving an algebraic equation as I try to recall which one doesn’t like tater tots, who still hates onions, and what was that recipe we ate last month that everyone liked.

5. They Never Remember to Tell You What They Want or Need From the Store

“OMG, Mooom, you didn’t buy the protein bars I like?” “Mooom, I need that energy drink I like for practice. You didn’t buy it?” “Mooom, I don’t like this kind of deodorant – it doesn’t work.” I’m pretty sure teenagers think we have a crystal ball that miraculously tunes us into their every need and want.

It’s not until I’ve already picked up my online order, packed the car after my in-person trip, or pulled in the driveway, that I get a text from my teen telling me they need toothpaste or some specialty snack they just have to have. The good news is, at least they’re old enough to hop in the car and get what they forgot themselves. That’s one perk of having older kids!

6. Their Tastes Change Almost Daily

Teens are notorious for always trying new things and switching up their “new favorite foods,” which is good for them, but a pain in the keister for us. Your picky (but highly predictable) child who ate nothing but buttered noodles and chicken nuggets until he was nine years old is suddenly vegan or pescatarian – at least this week. Every time you hit the grocery store, you have to learn the “new rules” about what they do and don’t want or like. Yep. Say goodbye to your standard grocery list – it goes away when you have teens.

7. They’re Socially Conscious… to a Fault

If it’s not fair-trade, non-GMO, organic, and dolphin-safe they probably don’t want you to bring it home. Until, of course, you remind them that it’s your house, your wallet, and you turned out just fine growing up on Twinkies and PopTarts washed down with artificially flavored Hi-C poured from a giant tin can!

8. As Soon as You Buy Their Favorite Food in Bulk, They Suddenly Decide They Hate It

Grocery shopping for teens can be crazy because they change their minds all the time. Case in point: my teen loved a certain cereal so much that I stocked up and bought six boxes when it went on sale. Of course, that was the exact week he announced it wasn’t his favorite cereal anymore. (Don’t worry – he had no choice but to eat the cereal no matter how much he whined about it.)

9. They’re Whiny (Just Like Toddlers)

Teenagers can be just as whiny as temperamental toddlers. At times, my teens can be a pillar of maturity – but not when we’re grocery shopping. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve approached the check-out lane only to be bombarded by my very big children begging me for that new flavored drink or pack of gum they need to freshen their breath. “Please, mom? I won’t ask for anything else and oh, I don’t have any money, can I pay you back, unless you want to treat me because I am your beloved child and you love me SO much.”

10. They’re Not Nearly as Helpful as They Think They Are

Sure, they can reach things on high shelves or fetch something from the next aisle, but more often than not, they toss extra things into the cart that they just HAVE to have. Or they stand in front of your cart mesmerized by something on their phone, totally oblivious that they’re blocking the way. Or they become totally MIA when it’s time to carry all the groceries into the house. Thanks, kids!

Yup, grocery shopping for teens will make your head spin. Sure, there’s an element of joy in the craziness and I’m sure we can all agree that simply being with our kids and caring for them never gets old. Now, if I can just get my kids to remind me when they need dental floss, I’ll be doing good!

About Katy M. Clark:

Katy is a writer and mom of two who embraces her imperfections on her blog Experienced Bad Mom. Follow her on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest.

If you enjoyed reading, “Grocery Shopping with Teenagers: 10 Reasons it Will Make Your Head Spin,” check out these other posts!

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