In the last two weeks, we had to eat out more than usual because we had guests. During the first visit, we went to a nice American restaurant which is not a chain and our server recommended Mac Cheese for children. We told him that our children eat from the adult’s menu, right when, my son had opened the menu, screaming “I want calamari!” as my daughter joined him. We had the same experience during all of our outings.
I never cook a separate menu for our children at home. We always have two meals, one main, one side dish. Everyone eats the same dish starting from age 1,5. Sometimes we offer choices. If they do refuse either one, we assume they are not hungry. This is how I was brought up and this is how we raise our kids.
Same rule applies when we eat out. When we eat out, if we are choosing a healthy meal from the menu, we offer the same choice to our kids. Why do my children have to eat mac and cheese, chicken nuggets or hot dogs in a nice restaurant when I am eating a decent meal?
My son can handle mild spiced chicken tikka masala. My daughter can eat grilled salmon with veggies. They love Cheese Saganaki even though they do not eat cheese at home.
When I eat out, I don’t expect restaurants to offer meals like what I make at home but my children can eat small portions of what we eat. It is one thing if you go to a fast food restaurant and everyone eats a burger. However, I cannot understand the logic behind parents eating delicious and maybe healthier dishes while children eat plain rice, pasta, hot dogs, fries or burger at the restaurants. Not only, are we conditioning them to eat fast food and less healthy dishes, we are also depriving them of experience of different tastes and flavors.
If restaurant owners cannot figure out, let me help you! It is wonderful you think about nice menus with activities and kid friendly ambiance. You can also have kids’ menus including plain yogurt, wider variety of steamed veggies, salads, salads with plain cucumber and tomatoes, veggie soups, beans, meals with lentil and chickpeas, lightly seasoned grilled meats and even provide smaller portions for babies and kids.