Tips for Grocery shopping with kids

With the girls being ultra clingy lately I've been finding myself feeling spacey and disconnected when I'm away from them.  I keep running out for little breaks when Mark gets home hoping that I'll feel restored and refreshed and all that crap.  Not so much.  But as I wandered through the overly packed aisles of Trader Joe's today I started thinking about the tricks I use to make grocery shopping much less insane when I have to bring the girls.  Here's what I do:

  • First off, stop wasting your time trying to park close to the entrance.  Instead focus on finding a spot near the cart return.  You have to remember that you're going to be unloading groceries before returning the cart.  Now you can unload the kids at the same time and strap them into their seats IF the cart return is close by.  Otherwise you're traipsing across the lot with kids in the cart and then back again while they try to run into oncoming traffic.
  • If your kids will listen to you and you have to have them out of your control for a moment, tell them to keep one hand on the car at all times.  If you're like me this means your kids will have very dirty hands due to the fact that you never wash the damn car.  But I'd rather have dirty kids than smashed ones.
  • This one requires some advance planning so I rarely do it, but when I do we have an awesome trip.  Before we leave for home I make a list of all the items we're searching for that day.  Then, using Google image search, I make a visual list for Lily with numbers listed to show her how much.  She learns her numbers, is an active part of my search and feels like she's helping.  Also? she and Anya are so engaged in their hunt that I don't have to snarl things like, "Those children who play Ring Around the Rosey in the produce aisle don't get to help scoop in the bulk aisle!"
  • If all else fails you really only need one item: duct tape.

What tips do you have to make things easier when trying to race through the shopping? 

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Bonus, somewhat related bit:

I made Chocolate Ricotta Pudding today from Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers Cookbook.  It's wicked simple and was so rich and delicious I considered not sharing it with Mark.  That said, it could have been better.  Here's how they do it:

6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (1 cup chips)
15 to 16 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Melt the chocolate in a small pan, on very low heat, taking care not to scorch it. Or melt it in a microwave oven. In a blender or a food processor, whirl the ricotta, vanilla and melted chocolate until smooth and evenly colored. Pour into dessert cups (leave space for whipped cream).  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

When you're ready to serve, in a small bowl with an electric mixer or whisk, whip the cream and the confectioners' sugar until stiff. Mound the whipped cream on top of the pudding and serve cold. (Serves: 4-6)

Here's how I'd do it next time: 

  • Add in some rum or flavored liqueur.  I mean, why not?
  • DO NOT USE THE BLENDER.  It doesn't work.  I had much better success with an immersion blender and with adding a little milk to the mix.
  • Next time I'm forgoing the extra bit of milk I used to make it blend better and instead mixing in a bunch of whipped cream (as well as adding some to the top, of course).  The consistency was a bit grainy due to the ricotta and I think by adding in the whipped cream it would have been smoother (and fatter, therefore with more yum). 

How would you adjust it?

PS Vegan friends: I KNOW!  Sorry.