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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Kids menu – Is it good for them? Is it good for you?

I am not a big fan of the kids menu provided by restaurants. After spending a week on vacation and eating out 1-3 times a day, I like it even less. (More about that coming soon).

The common kids menu offers simple food for outrageous prices, mostly something cheesy, with a reward of cookie or ice cream and juice for eating it. Wow. But this is not what bothers me the most. Let’s explore the typical kids menu. Here are a few examples:

Group A – for $4-$8 you can order:
Cheese pizza
Grilled cheese sandwich or quesadilla with fries/fruit/tomato soup
Mac and cheese/pasta with butter & cheese/tomato sauce/Alfredo sauce (which is heavy cream)
Bowl of fruit and toast
Pancakes and fruit
Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwich with Fruit

Some places will offer for that price range:
Chicken strips with fries and/or fruit
Fish n' Chips
Corn dog/ hot dog

Group B – for $6-$10 you can order:
Grilled salmon with mashed potatoes and veggies
Grilled chicken with mashed potatoes and veggies
Hamburger/Cheeseburger with fries and/or fruit
Pasta with chicken

It is tempting to order from the kids menu because it cost less. I think that is the only advantage a kids menu has. But what exactly are we, and our children, are getting?

1. group B has better, healthier selection than group A. It offers a more suitable food for lunch or dinner time, and it has a balance between protein, carbs, and vegetables. But it is still a very limited list of foods considering the variety offered to the adults in the regular menu.

2. our kids learn that this is the food they are supposed to like and nothing else will do. Not a very good lesson for life. Can you imagine your children eating this kind of food all their life? Because this is the message we are giving them by offering this food to them again and again and again.

3. we, the parents, are accepting and giving our children the message that it is normal that they are eating different food from us. All living creatures on this planet are eating the same food, parents and their young ones. Why are we different?

4 . PB & J/cheese sandwich, pasta and the likes cost almost nothing to the restaurant to make. There is hardly any labor put into it and the ingredients are cheap. They want you to order those items.

5. if this food is so good, why can’t adults order from the kids menu?

Suggested solutions:
Ask your waiter/waitress if you can order a smaller portion from the regular menu for a reduced price. You will be surprised that most places will do it for you.

Order a few appetizers and/or entrées from the regular menu and share. This way everyone gets to taste a little bit of a bigger variety and choose what they like while trying something new.

Coming up in the next post – how to order food for your kids from the “adults” menu. Meanwhile, you might want to read this: Family friendly restaurants


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