Trend Feast: Three Easy Strategies for Making Kids' Meals Healthier
Sep 15, 2019
It doesn’t take much to bring a healthy halo to your kids’ dishes—and make moms happy.
One of the most popular trends on kids’ menus for 2018 is the addition of healthy menu items.1 And, surprise—it’s not the kids who demanding these items—it’s their moms. Why should you care?
- Women aged 35–44 are particularly likely to visit restaurants that offer healthy kids’ options, as moms are more likely than dads to choose which restaurant to visit.2
- Millennial families have similar concerns and are particularly important customers as 90% eat out at least once a week—more than any other age group.3
Clearly this is an important segment. So what can you do to make your kids’ menu healthier?
1. Offer a variety of options for sides
The fact remains, french fries are still the most ordered side item on kids’ menus (citation). But, simply by adding more options on the side—like whole grains, fruits and vegetables—you can dramatically help overcome a parent’s veto. Some ideas:
- Broccoli trees with choice of seasonings in popular kids’ flavors (e.g. ranch powder, buffalo powder)
- Fruit—Not just the standard fruit cocktail; add mangos, cherries or berries
- Sauteed green beans with chickpeas (Green Bats & Balls!), finished with Sriracha
- Edamame or combine with broccoli or choice of seasoning
- Brown rice or grain blends like Simplot Good Grains™ Thai Style Red Quinoa & Vegetable Blend
- Sweet potato fries
- Curried cauliflower
- Roasted/marinated vegetables for added flavor
- Offer an option for more than one side, for an upcharge
- Kids love sides! Offer an option to create a meal out of multiple side dishes
2. Substitute healthy ingredients
By changing out one or more ingredients for healthier alternatives, you can significantly upgrade the item’s nutritional appeal. Kids need not even know their favorite dish just got healthier. Some ideas:
- California roll with whole grain rice (brown rice)
- Gluten-free corndog muffin with nitrate-free hotdog bites
- Purple beet-colored veggie burger
- Deviled eggs with avocado vs. mayo—A fun, tasty way to do “Green Eggs & Ham”
3. Add an ancient grain
Ancient grains like quinoa are great way to add a wealth of nutrients without sacrificing flavor. Some ideas:
- Quinoa & Potato Patties
- Ancient Grain Rice Bowls – Replace white rice with ancient grains
- Breakfast Oatmeal Quinoa
Making your kids’ menu healthier isn’t about wholesale changes to your kitchen operations. It’s about making relatively small changes to recipes and offering a few additional items to give mom’s the healthy choices they want for their kids.
Give them what they want and they’ll reward you with their business, again and again.
1 Datassential – Kids Menu Keynote, 2016
2 Technomic Inc., Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report, 2016
3 Technomic, Millennial Parents, August 2017