Stu (who’s now one of the editors of GNM Parents — did you know that?), took some of the guesswork out of grocery shopping for older kids:
I was having trouble getting my kids to go to the market with me, and they would complain that my food selection was lame. Rock, meet Hard Place.
So I bought a whiteboard, hung it up, put up a nice selection of colored dry erase markers, and told them this: If you want something, put it on the board. Whatever I see on the board, I will buy. If it doesn’t go on the board, I don’t buy it.
Rough seas for about two weeks. Since then, several years later, and nary a peep about the pantry. Occasionally I have to remind them to put it up on the board, but very rarely. 99% of the time, I can hear their footsteps march from the fridge or the pantry over to the white-board, whereupon I still experience the rapture at the squeak of the markers as my kids do their part, taking responsibility for their own needs.
It’s not like they pick the menus completely, or don’t eat vegetables or anything. But for snacky, lunchy, quick-dinnery items, the whiteboard works.
Many (all?) dry erase boards are magnetic, so they’re also good catch-alls for the random bits of paper unworthy of a place of honor on the front of the fridge.