Kid Food?

What do you think of when I say the phrase “kid food?” I’m sure it’s hot dogs, chicken fingers/nuggets, and French fries, right? Maybe a burger, taco or quesadilla.

What do you think of when you hear “kid food?”

Normally, my kids eat whatever we make for meals, or they go hungry until the next mealtime. We allow snacks and treats, but usually nix those if the kids have refused to eat a real meal.

However, my kids are also just like every other kid out there, and they get their fair share of kid food when we are out and about – especially at restaurants.

My kids eat a lot of different things, including most every vegetable (including lima beans), with the exclusion of mushrooms and squash (and the teenager will not eat celery). They will eat beef, chicken, or pork, and they have tried lamb, rabbit, and alligator.

Our oldest will also eat Ahi, sushi, any kind of fish, and oysters on the half-shell. The middle will not eat any of those things, and the youngest will try fish but she could go either way.

Will your kids eat vegetables? Mine will – mostly.

So, that takes us to last Thursday night, when we were traveling in another state and wanted to try a seafood restaurant. Which means we had to tell the middle that he could order chicken tenders, and he was happy. The great thing about this place? They had kid appetizers – which was perfect! Our littles got sliced apples with peanut butter while we enjoyed oysters and calamari.

My question is: why doesn’t every restaurant have a set of kid appetizers??? They all have kid food, but kids will eat different things, and fruits & veggies are easy. My kids will attack a charcuterie board and devour the whole thing, depending on the cheese selection.

A few months ago, I talked about what Kid-Friendly means to me, and the fact that as parents, we appreciate a night out for adult time for sure, but more often than not, we eat out as a family. We hang out as a family. So we look for places that cater to everyone in our family!

Our kids are well-traveled and they are mostly well-behaved when we have adult dinners or when we go to nice restaurants. They will eat salad – in fact, the picky middle kid ate a blue cheese wedge at another dinner last week!

That being said, I think the kid appetizer menu was genius. No matter how fancy the restaurant, I am more likely to go back – and take my kids – if they have things the kids will eat too. We all know kids can be picky, it’s the story of our lives.

What would you add to a kid appetizer menu if you were designing one?

I love the experience of ordering a full meal – appetizer, main course, dessert – and taking the time to enjoy it all. Kids like that too, if we can get them food they also like. Design your own kid appetizer menu – make it fun for them!

We have been to pizza places that allow the kids to play with raw dough and sculpt it into something fun before cooking. Or another place we recently visited for breakfast had fruit kabobs with dipping sauces (including caramel, and sprinkles).

Food should be fun, and dining out should also be fun!

I love that restaurants are making it even more so by providing options that make it fun for our kids, instead of only the basic options of chicken tenders and mac n cheese. Veggies and ranch, fruit and caramel or a yogurt dip – all of these things are easy options to add as a side or appetizer, kids will eat them, and parents feel better because they aren’t just more junk food.

I’ve probably said this before, but I am a big fan of making sure my kids get a wide variety of things to eat. Balanced meals to me – especially for kids – include all the food groups (including some chocolate here and there). And I’m so proud that my kids will order veggies as their side about ½ the time when we are out.

We like to live life to the fullest, and enjoy exploring new places. I am not as adventurous, food-wise, as my husband, but we teach our kids to try new things. Not everything is a win (or yummy to eat), and there are days when it feels like we’re pulling teeth to get them to eat anything healthy at all. I give in and make the kid food for lunch at home here and there, because it’s easy. And I like Hot Pockets and Pizza Rolls as much as anyone…

When it’s all said and done, though, I hope that I’m giving my kids a good start for getting out and exploring and trying new things later in life. Food should always be part of that! We all need to eat, and we should enjoy what we eat, too!

I love the process of cooking, making things that we all enjoy, and sitting down at the table as a family to visit while we eat. Taking time for Family Dinner is important, wherever you are. Kid food doesn’t need to be boring or unhealthy. And kids should have more options than the basics – everywhere they go!

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