While the Kid’s Meal with a burger, fries and a toy is still a staple at many fast food restaurants, many eateries in every category are now offering youngsters healthier and more sophisticated fare. Would little Kayla like to try some escargots today?
Admittedly, chicken fingers and burgers are still the most commonplace, but a growing number of kid’s menus feature more grownup choices. Kids can now order things like smaller portions of premium steaks, fresh fish, baked or grilled chicken, along with more fruits and vegetables.
With child obesity rates having doubled or tripled in recent years, it’s a positive trend for parents trying to teach their kids to eat healthier than they did as children.
McDonald’s and Burger King are making the effort, offering apple slices with fruit dipping sauces, and low-fat milk as an alternative to soft drinks. Other restaurants have gotten more creative. Here’s a sampling of Children’s Menu items, compiled by Joyce Smith, writing for the Kansas City Star.
â‹… Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant â€“ pasta tossed with marinara sauce
â‹… McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants â€“ teriyaki chicken bowl with stir-fried vegetables; shrimp lotus salad; grilled salmon filet with jasmine rice
â‹… Aixois French Restaurant & Coffee Bar â€“ escargots (yes, really); cheese plate with fresh fruit; organic chicken-and-apple sausage; small portions of fresh fish
â‹… Ted’s Montana Grill â€“ salmon, garlic mashed potatoes and green beans
Speaking of potatoes, kid’s meals are certainly not small potatoes for restaurateurs. Meals ordered by children accounted for 1.3 billion orders in 2008 and $5.6 billion in sales, according to Technomic, a foodservice research firm.
It’s not just that parents want their children to eat better, the kids themselves want to eat more â€˜grownupâ€™ foods. They’ve started to become more discerning in their choices.
The National Restaurant Association has named â€˜Healthful Kids’ Mealsâ€™ as an important trend for 2009 and will discuss the issue at this week’s national trade show in Chicago.
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