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Money Management:
Grocery Shopping for a Family Profile

Teacher Lesson




  • Language Arts
  • Statistics
  • Nutrition
  • Economics



  • 6-8
  • 9-12


Brief Description

Students work in groups to create menus and shopping lists based on the financial and dietary restrictions of a profiled family.


Students will
  • plan a menu based on a family profile; that profile includes details about the family's financial and, in some cases, dietary restrictions.
  • shop for the fictional family.
  • learn about menu planning, unit pricing, waste management, packaging, and food groups.
  • journal about their experiences.
  • create graphs and other displays related to lesson findings and conclusions.



    Consumer, consumer science, grocery, shop, menu, nutrition


    Materials Needed

  • permission to visit a local grocery with an adult supervision
  • art supplies for creating graphs and other displays
  • grocery store flyers


    Lesson Plan

    Arrange the class into five groups, and provide each group with one of the family profiles below. Explain to students that they are going to shop for food for their assigned family based on the family's specific needs and circumstances.

    The families are:

    The Green Family. The Greens are a family of four with $100 a week to spend on groceries. The family is comprised of a single mom and three small children -- a 4-year-old girl, a 3-year-old boy, and a 4-week-old nursing baby.

    The Scarlet Family. The Scarlets are a family of four with $175 a week to spend on groceries. Two members of the family are teenaged boys who like having friends over. Mom and Dad enjoy having their children's friends over throughout the week for supper, lunch, or late night snacks. The younger son was recently diagnosed with lactose intolerance. The family also has two cats.

    The Mustard Family. The Mustards are a family of four; a grandmother, father, mother, and 5-year-old daughter. They can spend $110 a week on groceries. Grandma has high cholesterol and is on a diet restricted to low-fat foods. Of course nobody wants to make Grandma feel different, so their meals conform to her diet.

    The Plum Family. The Plums are a family of five comprised of a mother, father, 13-year-old twins, and the mother's sister, who is in her first year of college. The family can spend $120 a week on food. The twins' aunt chips in an additional $30 a week for food.

    The White Family. The Whites are a family of three. The family includes a father and two teenaged sons. Dad's girlfriend often visits for supper; she has convinced the family to follow a vegetarian diet. This family has $100 a week to spend on groceries.

    Explain to students that this project requires them to view the world from someone else's perspective, to be creative, to be an active listener, and to develop shopping skills. The extension activities below offer tasks to help students appreciate and understand the economic, environmental, and health-related responsibilities involved in providing a family with groceries for one week.

    Extension Activities

  • study their family's profile, name each family member, and decide on the appearance and nationality of the family. They decide on the content and style of the family portrait, and create a frame for the portrait.
  • create a written introduction to their assigned family. The introduction includes the information on the profile they received, identifies family members by name, and includes a few of each individual's dietary likes and dislikes.
  • research guides for healthful eating (for example, or Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating).
  • figure out the dietary needs of each family member, especially those with special needs. Find out what each person can or cannot eat and account for any restrictions in the week's menu plan.
  • make a rough draft of what groceries are required for a week. Students can assume the family already has some staples in their cupboards -- such as spices, dry goods (for example, flour or rice), and frozen foods. Shopping lists should be arranged into the following categories:

    --- fresh fruit and veggies
    --- dry/boxed/canned foods
    --- meats
    --- dairy products
    --- baked goods
    --- snacks/extras
    --- frozen foods
    --- miscellaneous

    Foods are displayed in a chart with the title "Shopping List for the ________ Family." All planned purchases are listed in the proper categories.
  • do the actual shopping needed to prepare the week's menu. Students shop with an adult guide and write a thank you note to the guide after the shopping day. They might purchase the actual items or simply record prices as they walk the store aisles.
  • keep track of the countries where the goods they purchased were produced. Students then create a chart showing where the goods were produced and a graph showing the percent of goods produced in each country.
  • keep track of the amount of consumable waste produced as a result of their purchases, and then write a short paragraph describing the types of waste. They indicate whether the waste from each item is biodegradable, landfill (non-biodegradable), recyclable, or "no waste." Students might include any opinions they have about the products' packaging.
  • write a journal-style report on the shopping experience. Each student details where he or she shopped, what the store was like, what his or her role in the group was, what was easy/fun, what was difficult, what was boring, what was surprising If students gained a deeper appreciation for the grocery shopping their parents do each week, they should write about that too.
  • sort the list of groceries purchased by food group, and create an eye-appealing chart for display. Students create bar or pie graphs to illustrate that breakdown.
  • make a chart, and give it a title. Each column should be headed with a food group and foods should be listed beneath the appropriate heading. Students then total the money spent for each food group. What percent of the total cost is attributed to each food group?
  • calculate prices by unit (for example, per item in a package of six, per pound of weight)



    On a sheet of lined paper, students share what they learned from the project. They also evaluate the project by answering any or all of the following questions:

  • What part(s) of this project was most helpful to you as a responsible consumer/shopper?
  • Should this project be repeated next year? Why or why not?
  • What parts of the Consumer Studies Project could have been done better? How?

    Submitted By

    Submitted by Shirley Huinink, Laurentian Hills Christian School, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada


    Originally published 05/15/2003
    Updated 03/04/2013



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