for your Special Ed Life Skills class

Woman grocery shopping

So – you teach life skills to students. 

Grocery shopping is probably on your list of top skills to teach. But where do you begin?

Well, first off, do you know what your students enjoy eating? Do any of them have any allergies?

It’s great to get organized at the start of the year by asking students or parents what food preferences everyone has. You can mark them in this free spreadsheet template, so that you can visually see who likes what (in one place). 

This step will help you prepare for the rest of recipe planning and grocery shopping for the entire year!

Grocery Lessons & Curriculum

As far as curriculum goes, it’s a good idea to start with the basics.

You’ll find it’s important to teach certain lessons and activities as prerequisites before ever leaving the classroom.

For example, to get going, you can teach a full lesson or unit on grocery shopping, including the free video (below) of what grocery shopping is.

If you will have students practicing purchasing skills, you can instruct students on how to do self-checkout. 

Support students in practicing these skills before they even leave school!


Don’t reinvent the wheel every week.

If you’re going to avoid burnout as a Life Skills teacher, you need to have some activities built into your schedule that you do repetitively, so the structure is the same but the content differs slightly. Not only is it good for you, it’s enormously helpful for your students. 

Enter – the weekly grocery routine.

You can actually do this routine whether you get to go grocery shopping with your Special Education classroom each week or not.

Your students will benefit from the weekly life skills practice needed to prepare for grocery shopping trips!


The first activity you can do every week, is have students choose some recipes THEY would like to cook! Every student comes up with some options of recipes they’re interested in trying.

For students who type, that can mean inserting the link and picture. For students who need higher support, it can mean selecting between a few options a staff shows them.

This activity allows for students to think critically about what they actually like eating or would like to learn to cook, instead of always being told what to do.


Later in the week, your students can vote on a recipe (out of 3 choices selected by me) which determines which recipe to print out the following Monday. 

Use their ideas from the first activity, think about what we haven’t done in awhile / what is actually an option, and then pick 3 choices.

The winning recipe will be what you cook next!

The students LOVE getting a say in which recipes we cook, and it’s another repeatable activity everyone looks forward to. 


Now that your class has voted on a recipe, you can use the printed recipe to fill out your Grocery Shopping Prep List

Even though this is a weekly activity, the fact that the RECIPE IS NEW each week keeps this feeling fresh each week. Plus, it’s nearly zero prep work on your end. (Hooray – templates!)

The students will:

  1.  Read recipe
  2. List Supplies
  3. List recipe ingredients
  4. Check kitchen for ingredients
  5. Make grocery list
  6. Estimate costs
  7. Research actual prices (or see in store)
  8. Compare their estimates to the real price

Use this last activity with students who can navigate recipes that do not have a lot of visual supports. 

These students generally will need a more complex activity testing all of their skills, like estimating prices, researching actual prices online, finding the difference in price, and checking the actual fridge/pantry for ingredients.


Free Resource for Non-Readers

Is your class mainly non-readers (or do you have a mix)? 

If so, you can also try out a FREE version of this grocery prep activity, which is made specifically for students who need a bit more space to write, less visual stimuli on the page, and a less complex assignment.

I hope some of these resources can help you and your students to have a more structured grocery shopping routine!

Happy shopping 🙂