Here’s a great grocery store scavenger hunt idea that can also be used to help teach players how to stick to a food budget.
It’s therefore an ideal activity to use with kids or youth, but could also be used to teach this important life skill to adults or as a team building exercise.
If you work with teenagers, you may also find this list of important life skills helpful as it provides links to sessions explaining how to teach different skills to youth, including many about meal planning and food shopping.
This particular scavenger hunt doesn’t have to have any specific intention behind it though – it can simply be used to have fun!
Any grocery store that has a good selection of everyday food that people might need to buy. Walmart, Kroger, etc are therefore fine, while stores like Target may also work providing they have a large enough food section.
Put together a list of groceries that you want players to find. This should include staple foods, along with other common food and household items. Here are some of the items you may wish to include on the list:
- Peanut butter
- Toilet paper
- Breakfast cereal
When putting together the list at the store, make a note of the package size and cost of each item – that way you can calculate how much their overall budget should be.
The list you eventually provide should include the package size, but don’t include how much each item should cost – instead, just advise how much they have as a total budget for all the items.
Different Types Of List
This list will vary depending on if you’re planning the grocery store scavenger hunt for adults, college students or younger kids or teens.
With adults, you may need to teach them how to budget for their family, so the package sizes might be larger than for students where they’re only going to be cooking for themselves.
Depending on how many people you have participating, split the group into individuals or pairs, or small teams if you want it to be a team building scavenger hunt.
Give each team a copy of each of the resources above. Their task is to go around the grocery store finding all the items on the list, sticking within the overall budget you’ve set them.
They need to note down the package size they choose and cost of each item – there’s no need to actually collect all the items in a shopping cart though as they’d only need to be returned to the shelves at the end!
There are a number of different learning points you could bring out of this activity – here are a few ideas:
Cost vs Value – Although an item is lower cost, it doesn’t mean it’s better value. For example, a small bottle of tomato ketchup might cost $2 while a larger bottle costs $4. The smaller bottle might seem like better value, but the larger bottle may contain three times the amount of ketchup, therefore being better value.
Brand vs Store Brand – This is also a good opportunity to explore the cost differential between branded and store branded products. Store brands may cost less, but players may not enjoy the taste, so explain that it’s worth researching where they can save money.
For example, they may find that they don’t like the taste of Walmart’s Great Value ketchup and prefer Heinz ketchup, but that they’re happy choosing Walmart’s Great Value cooking spray instead of Pam cooking spray.
Pre-prepared vs Prepare Yourself – Although pre-prepared food is more convenient, it can be far more expensive. You could therefore explore this using the items they have to collect on the list.
For example, make a list of fruits that are contained in the store’s pre-packaged fruit bowls. Players will then be able to see that a fruit bowl might cost $10 when pre-packaged but that they can spend $10 on fruit and get two or three times as much fruit (this links in with the cost vs value learning point above).
The winning team is the one that manages to ‘spend’ the least amount of money on the items.
It might be worth providing some leeway on this though based on the package sizes that teams note down. One team might have spent the lowest amount, but they may have done this by buying the bare minimum based on the list you produced.
Another team may have spent a few dollars more, but still stayed within the budget and may have been able to get larger package sizes, therefore meaning they got better value for money.