canned lima beans taste bad and other lessons from the grocery store

store, teaching kids to give

A couple of weeks ago, our church’s bulletin contained a blurb about the new, permanent food pantry going up in our lobby. Members have the opportunity fill the pantry weekly, and then, the contents of the pantry are donated to a local public school.


However, I’ve come to realize if I just go to the store and buy this and that for the pantry with little thought, it doesn’t really help my kids learn anything about serving ¬†because while I’m racing around the grocery store looking for canned meats and peanut butter, my kids ¬†are chopping on free cookies from the bakery. I don’t learn much (except where the canned meat is). They don’t learn much (except that peanut butter, bakery cookies are better than sugar cookies with sprinkles).

Solution: Give the kids the list of needed items and have them build a meal.

The result? Less yapping by me and more learning by them. Just what are my kiddos learning from putting together one meal? So glad you asked.

  • The word “perishable”.
  • That kids in their school district don’t have enough to eat.
  • The difference between name brand and store brand.
  • Rice is cheap, but not fun to eat. Mac and cheese is yummy, but more expensive.
  • Fresh fruit isn’t an option for many families.
  • Gross food is often inexpensive (No thank you, $.77, generic, lima beans).
  • There are people who can’t buy what they want in the grocery store.
  • Salad won’t stay fresh in a food pantry.
  • Sadly, neither will bread.
  • Breakfast bars don’t make a tasty breakfast.

It’s funny how much you can teach your kids about giving when you decide to get out of the way.

Image credit.



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Amy L. Sullivan
SERVE Editor Word lover. Book devourer. Music addict. Amy is a Northern girl who found herself living in the South. She drinks sweet tea, turns her nose up at okra, and attempts to tell her daughters "yella" isn't a color.


  1. Excellent idea, Amy.

  2. Amy…this wonderful wisdom….isn’t God faithful to parent us so we can parent our children….blessing to you

    • Ro, A perfect description, “parenting us so we can parent them”. Yes!

  3. Oh, I learn this practically every day. Thanks for the insight!

    • Jill, I am a talker, and more I talk, the more my kids space out! So nice to see them learning without me telling them what they are suppossed to learn. Ha!

  4. Sandra Heska King


    And might I say I’ve been guilty of combing through my cupboards for stuff I don’t want/like…

    • Sandra,
      I’m guilty too. Sure, I’m going to give away the lima beans and the waxed beans and the off brand fruit cocktail. Blah!

  5. I think this is a great idea. But, at the same time, it just kills me that this is such the reality of life.

    • I know. It’s hard to imagine…especially when the kids who are hungry don’t “look the part” (whatever that part may be). One of the kids I taught a few years ago came to me once and said the only food he had in his house for the last three days was potatoes. I almost fell over. I never would have guessed.

  6. Thank you for sharing Amy. I love how the routine act of going to the grocery store can be a learning time for kids.

    • Sandra,
      Right! So often we think we don’t have time to serve, but often we can combine serving with what we are already doing.

  7. I can just picture you three zooming around the store, and lima beans? They are always a bad choice :) Thank you for yet another gentle reminder to just do something.

    • Our family doesn’t exactly zoom around the store, especially since Ruby still insists on riding in the car cart. Go ahead and pity me…that car cart is a beast!

  8. Dolly Lee

    Another great teaching moment…Thank you, Amy :)

    • Loretta,
      Thanks! I don’t always capture those moments the best way, but this one sure was fun!


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