Grocery Store Scavenger Hunt Ideas – Budget It

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!


  • List
  • Pens
  • Calculators


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:

  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Salad
  • Bread
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly
  • Rice
  • Soup
  • Chicken
  • Ketchup
  • Toilet paper
  • Milk
  • Coffee
  • Oil
  • Eggs
  • 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!

Learning Points

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.

3 Mall Scavenger Hunt Ideas

If you want to plan a fun activity for people of any age, here are 3 mall scavenger hunt ideas you can use.

All of the ideas are photo scavenger hunts, which means that rather than collecting the items, players should take photos of each item.

You’ll therefore need to ensure that each player / team has access to a camera – cellphone cameras are fine, so hopefully all the players will have access to one.

These ideas are perfect for doing with a youth group, but could just as easily be used with kids and adults too.

1. Eclectic Wardrobe

Shopping malls have many stores selling clothes, so make a list of different types of clothes that the players need to find. Rather than just listing items like T-shirt, dress, jeans, etc, make the descriptions very specific.

Here are some ideas of clothing items you could use for the scavenger hunt:

  • Maxi dress with flowers on
  • XL college T-shirt
  • Hoodie with writing on one arm
  • Yellow and orange dress
  • Pajamas with a video game design
  • Hat with a flower on it
  • Scarf with at least five colors on it
  • Underwear with a cartoon character on it
  • T-shirt with a celebrity who’s no longer alive on it

Add in a few items that players can earn bonus points for – points that you’ll award based on how funny they are. A few examples include:

  • Ugliest item of clothing you can find
  • Funniest T-shirt slogan
  • Creepiest looking mannequin

2. The Price Is Right

Make a list of different prices – players then have to take photos of items that cost the same amount, with price labels also in the photo as proof.

To ensure that this mall scavenger hunt isn’t too hard, provide a range of prices for each amount. For example:

  • $9.95-$10.00 rather than $9.99
  • $49-$50 rather than $49.50

Alternatively, provide specific prices but award points based on how close they get to each amount. For example, you could award one point if they get within $1 and three points if they find an item whose price exactly matches the one you’ve specified.

3. Going From A to Z

Give each player / team a sheet with each letter of the alphabet listed. They then have to take photos of 26 different items in the mall that begin with each letter of the alphabet.

Points should be awarded as follows:

  • 1 point for each photo (therefore up to 26 points if they manage to find an item for each letter)
  • 3 points for finishing first
  • 5 points for taking all the photos in alphabetical order

If you liked all these ideas for mall scavenger hunts, we have loads more of them here.