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Kids' menus at restaurants. Really? [From General Topics]

After a few days at Disneyland I started looking at the Kids' Menus. I was shocked. Mostly because they just seemed so unhealthy and bland. Chicken fingers, mac n' cheese, fries and the like. With maybe a few apple slices on the side. Most of the stuff my mother would not have let me eat, except for the apple slices (Ok and occasionally mac n' cheese). I never ate off the children's menu as child, except maybe to get a smaller portion than the adult food.

I've been noticing them in other restaurants as well, and for the most part it seems more of the same.

Is this what kids eat these days? Or is this just for the picky eaters? Is it really the norm for kids to eat crappy food?

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  1. "Is this what kids eat these days? Or is this just for the picky eaters? Is it really the norm for kids to eat crappy food?"
    sometimes. yes and no. depends on the family.

    but seriously, you have to keep in mind that those menus are typically intended to provide options for kids in restaurants that cater to adults. it's an afterthought, not the main event. restaurants default to grilled cheese, chicken fingers, pizza and mac & cheese because 1) they're simple to prepare so the kitchen doesn't have to expend too much extra effort to churn them out; and 2) yes, most kids like them. so it's an easy way to appease the picky eaters and prevent a temper tantrum in the middle of a restaurant.

    it makes me cringe when we're out to eat with my nieces at a nice restaurant, and they ask if they can have pizza or chicken fingers and fries. i usually try to suggest one or two things from the regular menu that i think they might like, to encourage them to try something new. i actually wish restaurants didn't offer those kids' options - most places have at least one or two simple dishes on the menu that kids would probably be willing to eat if they were presented the right way. they eat enough crap in school cafeterias and at fast food places, they don't need more of the same at nicer restaurants...but i don't see them disappearing any time soon.

    3 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      addendum to my original reply - i neglected to address the fact that in this particular case you're talking about DISNEYLAND (thanks to queencru for reminding me). that place is all about the kids, and when you're traipsing around for hours, and exhausted parents are in Mickey Mouse overload, the last thing they need is to fight with their children about meals and snacks. while i do wish kids weren't conditioned to want that stuff in the first place, they are, so i understand why those options are in place in and around venues like Disney.

      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        Disney certainly exemplifies what I'm talking about, but I see it other restaurants as well. It kind of reminds me, vaguely, of foods the Victorians thought were appropriate for children, as the belief was that their digestives systems were undeveloped. Thin gruel and porridges.

        I can understand the cheapness of the meals being attractive to parents, but I know that my mother managed to feed us no crap while we were there, aside from the ice cream treat or what have you. But she was pretty clever about food with us. Sorta like mom22tots.

        I think that mrst and goodhealthgourmet hit what bugs me most about this, that this kind of food has become "*only* thing worth eating."

        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          I was surprised at the options at Disneyworld for kids, enough that I'd order off the kids menu and let my kids order off the adult. The portions were perfect and I could get a grilled chicken tortilla, grapes/carrots, and a drink. LOL, I didn't even notice that there were nuggets on the menu but I'm sure there were. But, FWIW, adult choices weren't much better than kids choices, only with a lot larger portions.

          At the same time, because my kids didn't eat stuff like that at home, it was a special treat for them to order chicken nuggets and fries off a menu once in a while. One thing i don't do is deep fry food--never got the hang of it and never had enough oil in the house. So, if they wanted it, it was on a rare occasion when eating out. They've outgrown it somewhat now but I do miss the days when they could eat for $4.99 including drink and dessert. Now it costs me three times as much.

      2. I have no problem with kid's menus, especially at places like Disney. I was recently there myself and the prices on the adult menu are very expensive at sit-down restaurants. Additionally there's no way to get carry out when you're going to be marching around a park all day and aren't at a hotel that has a fridge/microwave. The kid's menu items are easy to prepare and items that most children like. While I'd say it's fine for other restaurants not to offer those kid's options, at Disney it's very exhausting and the last thing you want to be doing is spending hours arguing with a kid about whether he's going to eat the $20 plate of food you just bought him.

        1. Let's not forget the huge mark-up on kids menus. These items are so inexpensive to prepare and not necessarily priced accordingly, particularly at a place like Disney. I much prefer when a restaurant offers half-portions or child-sized servings of their regular menu offereings. When they don't, I often resort to ordering off the appertizer menu for my kids, b/c there are usually much more interesting choices for them. Or else they share an adult entree (this assuming I can get them to agree on one thing...big assumption!!)

          1 Reply
          1. re: mom22tots

            Nothing at Disney is priced accordingly, but something reasonably priced is still better than a $20 plate that a child is probably not going to be able to eat.

          2. "The Cosby Show" had an episode where Cliff tries to take Rudy and her friends to an upscale restaurant and they all want burgers.

            Now with a whole "foodie" culture, we have kids that want to be food critics--in Junior High School, and will only eat tuna if it's prepared by Nobu.

            I think it's great to expose kids to different cuisines and flavor combinations, but sometimes you have to let kids be kids. A chicken finger won't kill them once in a while. Remember when going to McDonald's was a treat and not an everyday thing?

            18 Replies
            1. re: MrsT

              "Remember when going to McDonald's was a treat and not an everyday thing?"
              i think that's precisely the problem. many kids today seem to think it IS an everyday thing, or the *only* thing worth eating. but who's really to blame for that is an entirely different discussion...

              1. re: MrsT

                " Remember when going to McDonald's was a treat and not an everyday thing?"

                nope. going there was never either in my childhood

                "... but sometimes you have to let kids be kids"

                you always have to let kids be kids, but that isnt the same as assuming they only like bland fried crap.

                1. re: thew

                  ""... but sometimes you have to let kids be kids"

                  you always have to let kids be kids, but that isnt the same as assuming they only like bland fried crap.

                  Or, that they were born liking bland fried crap, or McDonald's.

                  If kids are reared to like wholesome foods, then you can let kids be kids and they will still want "real" food.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    I think you just summed it all up.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      Absolutely true. The restaurant I manage has a kids menu, but thankfully, no fried foods. We offer the usual assortment - grilled cheese, pasta with butter and cheese, chicken strips with dipping sauce... We also offer steamed veggies with dipping sauce, kid sized salads, sliced apples. In my 7 years with this establishment, I have served maybe 2 kids salads or steamed veggies. The highlights are always pasta and chicken. What is most disheartening is that we have actually had kids reject the chicken because it's not breaded - it is grilled. This happens more than you would think. We have one family that comes in fairly regularly who have clearly always fed their kids good food. They never order from the kids menu. Instead, the two girls share a small meal - usually salmon of some sort with potato and vegetable. We love that family. My point is that kids menus are the way they are because that's what families seem to want. Even if you offer the healthy choices, they don't pick them.

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        I haven't found that to be true. My kids had home made whole foods at home but the first time they had Kraft mac and cheese at someone's house, they loved it. Same with a whole host of junk foods, including fast food, Capri suns, Hostess hohos, slice and bake cookies, Cheetos, etc. We haven't had fast food in going on four years now (no, not entirely true, we have had Five Guys on a rare occasion) but they love it. Given the choice, my kids will pick french fries over broccoli. Hey, so would I! So, my concession is real food at home; at restaurants, I don't stress about it because it's only in moderation.

                        1. re: chowser

                          Like what you said and how you said it! My kids were just the same--

                      2. re: thew

                        IIRC, there are biological reasons why many kids prefer the bland and fried- a growing body is frequently wired to want to get as many calories into it as possible which works out to a craving for fat, and I seem to remember a recent study talking about how childrens' taste buds are far more sensitive than adult taste buds when it comes to picking up on sour/bitter/hot.

                        So in my book, a 'good' children's menu realizes that yes, children may indeed have these kinds of food preferences but not immediately default to the same old kidz meal standards in order to hit those preferences.

                        1. re: beachmouse

                          I studied biology and biochemistry when in college, and I never heard that theory. Where did you read this?

                          How then can you explain that many parents prefer fried foods and not the healthiest choices? Not all, but let's look at the reality of the obesity problem in this country. It is true in many cases.

                          1. re: beachmouse

                            interesting, because for many children it works out to a craving for fruit

                            1. re: fara

                              My son's 10 and he's recently started eating a ton of fruit. He always liked most fruit but now he's eating so much more. I love it!

                              1. re: fara

                                "for many children it works out to a craving for fruit"
                                Possibly every kid I've known loves fruit. I am always so happy when places offer fruit on kids' menus. Just because I don't want to have a steamed spinach tantrum in public doesn't mean I want to feed my kid crap.

                                1. re: rusty_s

                                  I used to add spinach- quite a bit- to my son's mac & cheese and he liked it a lot. and no, I didn't feed him chicken fingers, ever. We took him to sushi for the first time when he was four. i hate those "kids' menus".

                                  1. re: EWSflash

                                    My homemade southern fried chicken fingers are much better than anything you can find on any kids' menu.

                          2. re: MrsT

                            When I was young, it was a big deal to get to have a McDonalds birthday party! I'm 45.

                          3. Some kids eat crappy food, some don't. Same with adults. Disney is a place that caters to families, and I agree, it cuts down on arguing with small, tired, hungry kids. (Never been to Disney, but do have kids - they get ugly when tired & hungry!).

                            I wish for wider variety on kids' menus, but my kids can order "regular" food if they prefer. Otherwise, an occasional meal of chicken nuggets is fine. My kids are all healthy weights and very physically active. They have a variety of tastes: one likes veggies but no meat, one likes all meat but not big on veggies, and one is still determining what he likes. He did, however, crack his doc up by saying (at age 5) that his favorite foods were cucumbers and cous cous. McD's is an occasional stop on a busy night, or for lunch on their birthdays, although now that they are older, they are asking for better places. I am a big believer in all things are ok in moderation, and banning foods makes them more tempting.

                            Bottom line - take the kids to places with food you like and they like. A kid's menu is a suggestion, not requirement. But expect that most kids' menus are catering to the lowest common denominator, food-wise.

                            1. In my former Korean restaurant our "Kids Menu" was simply reduced sized portions of our standard menu.
                              I can not count the number of times parents asked if we had a "normal" kids menu offering burgers and fries, and would then ask if they could bring in McD when I told them there were no "normal" kid's foods.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: hannaone

                                That is so depressing. And why would they relish some scrummy Korean food and deprive their kids of it?

                                1. re: Vetter

                                  Most of the time these parents would make statements like "he/she wouldn't like it".
                                  Sometimes that was true, but most of my experience with children was that once they tried it, they generally liked it.

                                  Much of the "children's menu" game has to do with the toys and or activities that go along with it. I found that once the children realized that we provided crayons and coloring sheets, they were more than happy to eat whatever meal accompanied the entertainment.

                              2. I grew up in a time when there was no kids menus - only food. I didnt eat different things from my parents when at home or when in a restaurant. I don't believe that different foods for young people is a "good thing" and, thankfully, many places have not succumbed to it. For example, I don't recall ever seeing a kids menu in Spain (outside of the tourist areas). One of my fave local mini-chains similarly doesnt offer different dishes for children but does offer small portions of ordinary menu items.

                                1. I think that it depends on the kid and the parents. I know some kids my daughter's age (4/5 y/o) that will only eat chicken nuggets, mac & cheese, fries, etc. Heck, my daughter's favorite food is mac and cheese, and she'll devour bowls of it at a time. I'm not worried if we go out and she orders from the kids menu, because I also know that she will eat/has eaten:

                                  - chicken tikka and naan when we go to an Indian place
                                  - any pasta w/ /red sauce and fried calamari
                                  - spanikopita and greek salads
                                  - quesadillas with spicy salsa (she actually mixes the hot salsa and the regular together)

                                  When we are home, she eats the (mostly) healthy stuff I make for dinner. She knows that I ask her to try one bite, and if she doesn't like it, she doesn't have to eat it. But when we go out, if she wants Mac & Cheese, I don't sweat it, because I know that it's a treat for her, just like ordering something not-altogether healthly is a treat for me.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Lucia27

                                    no one is saying kids should never have a mac and cheese or chicken fingers. but somehow the idea has gotten out that that is all kids will want or will eat, and it's non sense.

                                    i long for kid's menus that are kid sized portions of the regular menu. not every item, of course, but a range. My son is 5. his fave food is salmon and spinach. like many kids he's not crazy about things with much sauce sometimes, but a simple pan seared salmon and he's good to go. for a while all he wanted was shrimp. not breaded and fried. he prefers a steak or a pork chop to a burger. bolognese to mac and cheese. but he cannot eat a full portion - i mean his stomach is smaller than a can of soda. so put the mac and the fingers on the menu. but throw in some half portions of the good stuff too.

                                    1. re: thew

                                      You're right- it's become a folk legend that kids only eat burgers, fries, and mac cheese and for some reason people are actually buying that crap (the line, that is). But if that's all they grew up on, and if they can manage to buffalo thier parents into not having to taste anything else, guess who's smarter.

                                      1. re: thew

                                        "so put the mac and the fingers on the menu. but throw in some half portions of the good stuff too."

                                        Agreed. My kids eat well most of the time but occasionally indulge in pizza, chix fingers & mac n' cheese. But if grilled shrimp or green beans were on the menu that would hands down be their first choices.

                                        My son has a 8 yr old friend who has been diagnosed with gastritis. His mother told me that he refuses to eat ANY fruits or vegetables. All he eats is fried foods. Who feeds him? The other day she picked was in their car and handed him a bowl of mac n' cheese and was impressed with herself that she came up with a way to serve him a "homemade" dinner on the go instead of fast food. Frightening!

                                    2. WE take our granddaughters out to eat often. Yes, the menu is the same- chicken fingers, grilled cheese etc. They never want anything on the kids menu except at the seafood place we go with frequency that has a kid's lobster on the menu.They have that or an adult fish and chips! Usually they want an adult item and will split it. I often wonder if kids really ever eat the stuff on those menus.

                                      1. Have you taken a good, hard look at a very significant portion of this country's overweight, undernourished and out of shape children? Whose parent(s) think a deep fried french fry serves as a vegetable portion and a a chicken nugget serves as a protein?
                                        Who think a pizza is suitable for their day's nutritional allotment?
                                        There are some very ignorant, lazy and unsuited parents out there who don't have a clue how to properly feed their children and feel a 'kid's meal' takes some of the guess work out of their responsibility, because they feel restaurant must know what they're doing.
                                        I've been to parts of this country where the household has NEVER seen a vegetable unless it's deepfried and forget the salad....it's unheard of.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: latindancer

                                          I teach and work 30 min in the school cafeteria. From 5 years old and up, you should see some of the lunchbox contents I see. A packet of cookies, peanut butter crackers, chips, gummy worms, and a fruit roll up = five days a week. But the kids who eat the tray lunches are no better. Kids with money in their account can buy 2 ice-creams a day and we are NOT allowed to ask them to eat their meal first. Teachers have been complaining for years. I wrote a letter asking the Austin Statesman to investigate. Your tax dollars buy free lunches (my school is 95% free lunch). They don't get eaten. Magically the child has $2 day to buy chips and ice-cream, which is what they eat for lunch. With chocolate milk. I counted milk one day. 11 white milks in the entire cafeteria.

                                        2. My, my aren't we a unpleasant judgemental group in this thread! My mother was an amazing cook, we ate dinner together every night, and I still HATED it all. And yet today I eat pretty much everything. So I am maybe a little too understanding of my kid's distaste for most of what I consider meal-worthy. And I am watching with great relief as my now 13 yo's palate is slowly, ever so slowly expanding. I think of it in the same way I think about reading. If I sat them down and forced them to read,at eight, say, "Of Mice and Men," they may very well never pick up a book again once they are out of my control. So they read the "Wimpy Kid" books The literary equivelant of pizza. But if they see me reading, every day, with enjoyment, and eating spicy smoked fish soup for breakfast, then, God willing, at some point they will join me. And to the OP, the foks at Disney aren't daft. They are there to give the kids what they want. If the kids were clamoring for pate de canard, or my yummy
                                          spicy fish soup you can bet the good folks at Disney would be supplying it. Lastly, and please excuse my ranting, some of us are grateful for kids' menus for the simple reason that we can't all afford to feed the entire family off of the adult version. Sure my son would prefer to order the filet insted of the burger, but we aren't ordering the filet either. I order the salad, and my hubby the chicken, and the kids order of the kids menu, and we get a night out. And so, this poster states, viva la kid's menu!

                                          18 Replies
                                          1. re: dvsndvs

                                            This! In reading above, I couldn't help but flash back to one of my most vivid childhood memories- "The Night They Couldn't Make Me Eat Stewed Squash." It was an epic battle, ending with lots of tears on both sides and no real winners. In time, the exposure to nutritious foods served me well, and there were no more sad tales after I was ten or eleven. So I am sure that there are plenty of children who naturally gravitate toward healthy choices, like salmon, but there are plenty who have to grow into it. Certainly, if these healthy choices would sell well on kids' menus, the restaurants would sell them!

                                            I would certainly take issue with parents who think chicken nuggets are appropriate night after night for their kids, or that restaurant menus are a good representation of what is delicious or healthy, but that is a different issue.

                                            1. re: soonerhound

                                              Substitute "green beans" for "stewed squash" and you have my worst childhood food memory. I finally, finally caved just to get dessert which I discovered to my great dismay was bubblegum. I have never liked chewing gum, much less bubblegum, and it sure as h*ll wasn't worth eating green beans. To this day I positively abhor green beans although I gradually came around to eating other vegetables.

                                              Needless to say, I have never and will never used this kind of extortionate blackmail on my child. She has to try everything on her plate but I will never force her eat something she doesn't like after tasting. She has to eat enough dinner to earn the "privilege" of dessert but it never has to be a specific food, just an adequate amount of nutrition.

                                              1. re: soonerhound

                                                This brings up the memory of a Halloween dinner blowup between my (usually absent) father and me concerning my refusal to eat fish and his insistence I finish every bite before I could go out trick-or-treating. He must've either caved or my mother intervened because I know I went out. He still doesn't get why I (or anyone else) doesn't like some food that he does.

                                                1. re: Jasz

                                                  Are you ME?!!
                                                  I had the exact same no-can-do-the-fishie fight with my dad.

                                                  Being the gem of a daughter that I *was*, I believe I even forced myself to throw up. Wow. Now that I think of it, better send mom the BIG bouquet this Mother's Day...

                                              2. re: dvsndvs

                                                re: dvsndvs

                                                That was extremely well-said, and I thank you for injecting this thread with a rational, real-world perspective (and for stating what I was thinking silently to myself).

                                                1. re: dvsndvs

                                                  Reminds me of the time when I was 8 or so that my mother sat me and my sister down to a plate of sliced red and green bell peppers as an afternoon snack. My sister and I just stared blankly at each other in disgust for half an hour.

                                                  1. re: raleighboy

                                                    Hah, your story reminds me of how when I was little, my mother would put together a plate of cucumbers and red peppers (lightly salted) that I would eat with pleasure. Meanwhile, adults seeing that thought my mother was being cruel and that a child deserved a nicer afternoon snack.

                                                    1. re: Lizard

                                                      I always loved sliced cucumbers, lightly salted and with a dash of oregano, as a snack!

                                                      1. re: Lizard

                                                        We did something like that with our boy when he was young. He refused to eat salad, so I made "crunchies" instead. What are crunchies? Simply red and green peppers, cucumbers, carrots and celery, all cut into 4" strips. He ate them happily and as a family (now empty nesters), we still sometimes do!

                                                        1. re: BobB

                                                          one of the best parts of family dinners when i was young was the relish tray. don't forget radishes, you might even be able to sneak in some broccoli. After all they already think stuff on that tray is all good... (and it is)

                                                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                            Jicama is a great snack food for kids and adults also.

                                                    2. re: dvsndvs

                                                      I grew up pretty much the same way, except I didn't hate everything, just a few things. The difference was that my parents didn't take any BS from me, and suppertime didn't evolve into "oh well, lets just give you XXX instead", resulting in multi-meals being prepared. They also, I'm sure, knew that I wouldn't starve to death if I missed one meal. I wasn't forced to eat necessarily, but it was part of my upbringing to not waste food, and I wasn't catered to at meal times. I got what the family got.

                                                      You make a very good point with the pricing of kids meals. And also, in many places that provide these meals, those kids meals are free. Prices will increase with the addition of more items, which no doubt, some people would complain about.

                                                        1. re: dvsndvs

                                                          some of us are grateful for kids' menus for the simple reason that we can't all afford to feed the entire family off of the adult version.
                                                          i know this is an old post, but i'm just reading it now. FWIW, i've *never* been to a restaurant that wouldn't do a half-portion off the regular menu for a child (within reason, of course - i wouldn't expect them to waste half of an aged steak so they could serve up a smaller portion to a little kid). and though some may charge you an extra $1 or $2 supplement to do a half-order, it still costs much less than ordering the full entree. there's also the option of ordering kids an appetizer as their main. heck, i do that all the time, and i'm a grown woman. if it's enough food for me, it should be enough for a child.

                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                            Do you just ask? I've never thought to do that but I'd love that option. I'm tired of having way too much food thrown out at the end of the meal, both mine and my daughter's. I've been to restaurants that have small or "petite" portions and they charge a couple of dollars less--that would be fine for me.

                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                              yup - just ask! you'll never actually see it mentioned as an option on the menu, but i've been doing it for *years* - for myself and for my nieces - and i haven't been turned down yet :)

                                                        2. This is nothing new. When I was kid-menu age, some 25 to 30 years ago, the kids menu generally had chicken fingers, hamburgers, hot-dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches, and mac and cheese, all with fries on the side. The only places that didn't do this were your ethnic-type restaurants (Chinese, Indian etc) and high end places where children weren't expected.

                                                          I loathed this as a kid. I liked what the adults were eating, but simply couldn't eat a full adult portion. I still have problems eating a full adult meal in the US, for that matter. As a result, there was about an 8 year period where the only thing I could order was the appetizers. It tasted better, but was rarely a balanced meal.

                                                          However, there were lots of kids who wouldn't touch that nasty grownup food - like pasta, or steak, or seafood - because chicken fingers and hot-dogs were what they were used to. And lots of adults who would never think of feeding kids the same thing they were eating.

                                                          I'd like to see scaled down versions of the main course available for kids, so that the ones who want to eat decent food can order something that they can eat.

                                                          I can see why restaurants do it, though. All of these items are cheap and can be ordered frozen in bulk, so you can charge a low price and still make a profit on them.

                                                          1. I've found most kids menus, regardless of the establishment, to be more or less be identical.

                                                            1. I can tell you that my son has almost NEVER eaten off the chilldren's menu, anywhere. When he was really little my husband and I just shared our orders with him. And ever since he was about 5, he's ordered off the same menu as everybody else.

                                                              But I can tell you that I know a LOT of parents who actually MAKE their kids order from the kid's menu because it is cheaper. And these are not poverty-stricken families.

                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: flourgirl

                                                                I completely agree with you.
                                                                We did the same with our children. They weren't even slightly interested in the children's menu and I've known parents doing the same thing you're describing. Their kids actually ask to order from the adult menu and the parents tell them 'no'...
                                                                Most children's menus are boring.

                                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                                  "Most children's menus are boring."

                                                                  Absolutely, and I've done everything I can to raise my son to be an adventurous open-minded eater. He started veering down the road towards pickiness and I just refused to let him do it. It was a bit of a battle for a year or so (he started getting difficult around age 7) but I was just determined that he was not going to be that kid. Thankfully, he's back on track now and has very few food issues. And he really does dislike children's menus, precisely because they're so boring.

                                                                2. re: flourgirl

                                                                  Well, without knowing these families, they could also just be people who don't like waste. I've been around people who order these huge meals for their kids and the kid takes one bite and "I'm done".

                                                                  1. re: im_nomad

                                                                    Yes, and that's why it isn't necessary to ORDER a meal for such a child. I think it's probably a pretty good bet that most people know their own children pretty well. no? Well, if I had a child who regularly wasted big plates of food I wouldn't resort to the children's menu - I would just share my plate with that child, as I stated that I did when our son was small.

                                                                    I'm not saying that you're wrong - I'm sure there are people who do this for exactly that reason, but the fact is that I personally know many, many children who just refuse to eat anything but pizza, chicken nuggets, mac and cheese or hotdogs because their parents have totally bought into the idea that that's ALL kids WILL eat and never even consider the idea that a child may LIKE to order off the regular menu. I'm not sure how to say this better but it's like some parents just somehow think it's inappropriate or something for their kids to eat anything that's not off the children's menu. I just never wanted my son to get used to eating off of the kid's menu - I wanted him to be an open, adventurous eater- and he is.

                                                                    And I am sticking to my story - most of the people I know who make their kids order off the kid's menu do so because it's cheap & they just don't see the point of spending much money on the kids to dine out.

                                                                    1. re: flourgirl

                                                                      Sad, but I'm pretty sure you're right.

                                                                3. I don't mind at all when my kids order from the kids' menu. My husband and I eat American, European, Chinese, Thai, Korean, Japanese,Filipino and at times Indian and Persian food. There's good and crappy in every type. In most of the Asian restaurants we frequent, kids' menus are a rarity but my kids always found something that they liked. Their palate has widened as they've gotten older and yet they're very fit so food isn't an issue with us at all. Sometimes it's a matter of personal preference. I make mac and cheese from scratch at home and what I find so bland my kids think is delicious.

                                                                  What you found in Disneyland is what I consider "easy food." It's easy for an establishment like that to serve and sell and it's recognizable enough to appeal to a lot of children. Admittedly, kids' menus could use a major overhaul. If you see someone like myself allowing my kids to eat that way it doesn't mean that it's the only kind of food they eat. It really depends on the parents and I wonder, too, how wide a palate do they really have themselves?

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. My mom let me choose where I wanted to go for a special dinner and I was excited to go to the teppenyaki restaurant at Japan at Epcot center . This was way before Benihana and mass markteting of Japanese cuisine. Epcot had much more interesting options I recall (mind you that was 25 yrs ago).

                                                                    I remember that the food at Disneyworld was not great.

                                                                    As for kids menus. As children we were always expected to eat where my father chose. These were higher end restaurants where kids menus did not exist. We usually found things we liked. As kids, we really liked unique dining experiences like Japanese, Chinese or Korean restaurants.

                                                                    I agree with the depends on the family remark. My nephew will not touch vegetables and is extremely picky. His mother is the same. I tried feeding him carrot sticks and ranch dip and he wouldn't touch them. Fortunately when he stays with my brother, he gets some more exposure to different foods.

                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                    1. re: salsailsa

                                                                      <This was way before Benihana and mass markteting of Japanese cuisine.>

                                                                      A minor point, but Benihana opened in Manhattan in 1964.


                                                                      Epcot opened in 1982.

                                                                      1. re: small h

                                                                        Fair enough, before Benihana was everywhere.
                                                                        I live in Canada and I think there's only one in the country in Toronto.

                                                                        1. re: salsailsa

                                                                          No Montreal has one too...
                                                                          (probably vancouver and calgary too)

                                                                    2. As a mom to 2 boys, I HATE kid's menus. My oldest is 18 months and a great eater. Last time we went out he shared an app of stuffed mushrooms and then his dinner was a combo of dh's scallops with lobster risotto and my pecan crusted chicken with a peach demiglace. We rarely order off the kid's menu for him. The only time I will is if they offer real food with sides like broccoli and fruit salad (fresh, not canned).

                                                                      My son has never had McDonalds or Burger King and I will never give it to him. I'm sure some day a friend's mom will take him there, and I hope he hates it. When he gets yummy steak at home, why would he want a fake crappy burger patty?

                                                                      As for kids and bland food, not true with all of them. My son does not like white potatoes or grilled chicken. I also have a friend whose daughter will only eat things with a lot of flavor...she loves salsa and lemon slices.

                                                                      7 Replies
                                                                      1. re: rizzo0904

                                                                        I am absolutely not trying to be snide, but there's a long time between 18 months and say 5 years. Many of us who have 'been there" had great eaters at 1 who went through very picky stages later. You just may find that those simple meals are just what your son wants at some point in time. Or maybe not. But it likely has only somewhat to do with what a parent does or not do.

                                                                        1. re: DGresh

                                                                          I agree with dgresh. I think many parents get taken by surprise when their formerly great eaters all of the sudden turn into very picky eaters. This of course varies by the child and to the degree to which it happens - all kids are different, I know it happened with our son when he started full time school and was regularly exposed to other children's opinions regarding food at lunchtime. So in our case it hit at about 6 or 7. Lasted for about a year or so. As I said on a previous post, he's mostly left that behind now, but it was a little bit of a PITA there for a while - especially at dinner time.

                                                                          And we're not big fans of fast food/chain restaurants. Rarely eat at one.
                                                                          But ever now and then I indulge my son and let him get a happy meal. He likes chicken nuggets - but what he REALLY likes are the toys. Hey, what the heck, he's only going to be a kid once. (And I'm talking like 4 or 5 times a year, tops. It won't kill him)

                                                                          1. re: DGresh

                                                                            LOL, the kids do develop different tastebuds along the lines. I remember being so proud that I could steam broccoli and my 12 month old would love it. They devoured curry, steamed fish in ginger, etc. ,etc. I was *such* a good mom...until they hit three and pickiness set in. They're older, different tastebuds now and not picky but as I said above, the first time they had Kraft mac and cheese, they loved it. And, you know, sometimes you just have to ease up and not be anal retentive. As long as they generally eat well, I'm not going to stress about the occasional burger and fries. Life's just too short.

                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                              Yup - I could have written the same post at 18 months, in fact it's probably around here somewhere - now that she's 4, not so much. But I no longer think it's a personal accomplishment that my kid be a CH. We do our best and she eats what she eats.
                                                                              I do appreciate kids' menus for the small portion sizes, lower price and yes, foods that my kid likes and we won't have a battle over. Never assume we're eating the same things at home as we eat in restaurants - my husband is not "allowed" fish and chips at home either! LOL
                                                                              But I'm seeing the dark side too... we went out for Japanese the other day. I fully expected my kid to eat teriyaki chicken and rice (with a little steamed veg), which they had as a $3.99 lunch special - actually cheaper than most kids' menus here in Toronto. And she did eat some. But I hadn't realized how little we're getting out with her - she's been conditioned to look for the kids' menu and had a little whine because they didn't have one. I tried to get them to make her a Shirley Temple because that's one way my parents made restaurants fun for us, but they didn't seem to know what I meant. Do restaurants still do those? I guess that was a long shot at a Japanese restaurant

                                                                              1. re: julesrules

                                                                                Exactly the same for us, too--what we have in restaurants is not what we have at home. In fact, I prefer to have things I don't make at home when we're out which is one reason my kids liked the children's menu when they were younger (chicken nuggets--I can't deep fry). My children sound like yours at the age--but when my son turned 10, he wanted to go for sushi for dinner so it's all about phases and patience. Some restaurants still do Shirley Temples so keep looking. The oddest thing my kids are still picky about is soda. They don't like anything carbonated. But, I won't complain.

                                                                                1. re: julesrules

                                                                                  We don't dine out very often and we've tried to raise our son to view dining out as a potential adventure and be willing to take some risks in his choices. But that doesn't mean he never gets to choose "comfort" food either. I don't choose the adventurous choice every time we go out to dine either. :)

                                                                            2. re: rizzo0904

                                                                              Give them good food as long as you can. Far too soon they will start expressing opinions. We took our boys to McDonalds all the time...we just never ate there. When it was a rainy day we'd go to the play ground. My kids even pointed out once that other people there had food and so we said 'good idea, we should bring food next time too?!" and we did. My oldest was 6 when he found out McDonalds actually served food. Fortunately the boys thought it was ok but didn't go nuts for it. they are in thier teens now and never go there. They both love Wendy's salads though. Unfortunately those are not the healthiest things on the block either (one of them - can't remember which - has more fat than a big mac). Whatever. it's all about variety and we had plenty of that.

                                                                              And the only time my kids ordered off the kids menu was when I would order a big salad or appetizer for us to share first. Just nuggets and fries was way too boring - but it was cheap so we'd have a big salad first. Most of the time I just had the boys split an adult meal.

                                                                            3. I remember my mom used to take me to the annual International Festival in town when i was around 6 or 7. I can't tell you the specifics of what I ate, but I definitely enjoyed some persian and greek fare. I probably stuck with the most tame items, staying away from anything overtly spicy or exotic, but it is better than a burger.

                                                                              1. I forgot where I was or where I read it but I saw a kid's menu at a place that catered to a houndish clientele and the kid's menu was repulsive. Being a born skeptic it lead me to believe that the kid's menu was more of a device to encourage parents to order an extra entree to share with junior. However, I think it is wrong to have mac and cheese on the kid's menu and not have it on the adult menu.

                                                                                1. I found this little article about Mad Hatter's, in Durham, NC. They're doing the typical kid's menu thing (hot dogs, fries, chicken nuggets) but everything is made from scratch, in house, and home with local fruit and milk as sides. Eh, better than many of the alternatives, no?


                                                                                  16 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: raleighboy

                                                                                    Maybe, but that's my problem with most school cafeteria food, too. Perhaps the pizza crust is made with whole grain, the taco with lean beef, and the hot dog with low-fat turkey but the kids are still seeing pizza, tacos, and hot dogs. They don't know this particular version is healthier than usual and they've learned nothing about proper nutrition. If they feed me hot dogs in school, hot dogs must be good food, right? It also accomplishes nothing in terms of expanding a child's culinary horizons. All these foods have their place in a reasonable diet but no one should be expected to subsist on a diet of fast food or their simulacrums.

                                                                                    1. re: rockycat

                                                                                      I agree, Rockycat.

                                                                                      And they serve domino's pizza, regular hotdogs, corndogs and chicken nuggets for lunch in my son's school all the time - and then have the nerve to LECTURE homeroom mom's about the school's "nutritional policy." (My son has purchased lunch at school about a total of 5 times htis year so far.)

                                                                                      1. re: rockycat

                                                                                        "Expanding the child's culinary horizons"? Is this REALLY the job of the school -- particularly in this age of "I hate funding anything" where most schools are lucky to be able to afford to feed kids at all?

                                                                                        This smacks of an elitist attitude.

                                                                                        1. re: jmckee

                                                                                          "Elitist attitude?" You've got to be kidding.

                                                                                          Unless, of course, you think that any food item that isn't served at McDonald's, Pizza Hut, or Taco Bell is "elitist." In that case, I'm proud and happy to be considered an elitist.

                                                                                          1. re: rockycat

                                                                                            Nonsense. I don't eat at any of those places. i'm just saying that this whole thread is rife with the tone of "Kids' menus? ReallllY. How quaint. How dreary."

                                                                                            1. re: jmckee

                                                                                              < "Kids' menus? ReallllY>
                                                                                              Well yes. That is the title of the post, after all.

                                                                                              <How quaint. How dreary.">
                                                                                              No. More like, "How stupid. How condescending to children."

                                                                                              1. re: rockycat

                                                                                                Agreed with rockycat.

                                                                                                Also how unhealthy for them.

                                                                                                1. re: cosmogrrl

                                                                                                  As a steady diet? Yeah. But I really don't see how this is hurting anybody unless they eat at that restaurant every day.

                                                                                                2. re: rockycat

                                                                                                  Here's a big surprise: Children aren't adults. What appears "condescending" to you may simply be "treating them like kids".

                                                                                                  1. re: jmckee

                                                                                                    why not just treat them like people?

                                                                                            2. re: jmckee

                                                                                              I think if schools are going to be selling food to our kids, they should be selling something besides hotdogs, corn dogs, chicken nuggets and pizza. There's nothing wrong with any of this food on an occasional basis - but it shouldn't be making up the majority of the monthly menu, as it does in my local school district. My son hasn't purchased lunch at school once this year - it's that bad.

                                                                                              1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                Nice -- if the school district can afford it. Most can't. In my state (Ohio) the government has practically declared all out war on public school district funding -- aided by the whines of Tea Partiers not to "raise my taxes."

                                                                                                1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                  Sadly, school food in some places has passed from simply not very healthy to possible dangerous.
                                                                                                  I would advocate higher taxes in order to insure that school children didn't have to eat hamburgers made from the remaining bits cow bit ammonia slurry.


                                                                                                  1. re: jmckee

                                                                                                    If they can sell hotdogs, corn dogs, chicken nuggets and pizza, they are already spending money on food. They buy this food because it is quick and easy to prepare, because it's already cooked and frozen - all they have to do is heat it up. I suspect this is just as much about laziness/"efficiency" as it is about money.

                                                                                                    And I can't speak for Ohio - but the $9K a yr I'm paying in property taxes here in NJ (on a very modest home) - 75% of which goes to our public schools - should be MORE than enough to pay for decent meals for the kids. And no, I don't support raising my taxes - they are quite high enough, thank you very much.

                                                                                                    1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                      I can't speak for New Jersey. I only know that in Ohio, the hatred directed toward school funding is very real and prevents any "pie in the sky" increase in how much money is spent for lunches.

                                                                                                  2. re: flourgirl


                                                                                                    Borrowed this link from a thread on the Food Media board - it's a video clip about school lunches in France. Ranging in cost from $2.50 per meal in the south of France to $5 in Paris, these are five-course real meals that reflect the French emphasis on real, delicious food - as well as providing enough time for kids to eat in an unhurried manner, with conversation and socializing.

                                                                                            3. I have a 3 year old whose eating habits are fickle -- sometimes he'll eat anything he sees and everything on my plate, and other times it's plain pasta and peas. When we eat out, what he wants to eat is often related to how comfortable he feels. If it's a nicer place that doesn't specifically cater to kids, or if it's a type of food he's never had before, he'll eat his plain pasta or chicken nuggets and won't touch anything else. If it's a more kid-friendly place where he can run around a little, then he tends to be more adventurous. I don't order off the kids' menu all the time, but I do appreciate having a few options for when he's feeling picky.

                                                                                              1. I've got a two-and-a-half year old who vacillates between "eats everything" and "picky as heck" every few days. I, for one, am glad that most restaurants offer the ubiquitous grilled cheese sandwich or quesadilla. That way, there is something he will *always* eat and he can do so without any assistance from me....which allows me to actually enjoy my own meal rather than policing his every bite.

                                                                                                The only thing that annoys me about kiddie menus is that many restaurants only offer french fries as a side option. My kiddo won't eat fries but he'll happily hoover up fruit or mashed potatoes or steamed green beans. A little more selection in that area would definitely be nice....

                                                                                                1. We used to go to Indian or Thai restaurants. When my son was given this menu, I'd ask for recommendations for what he could eat from the normal menu. Generally people didn't understand what I meant until I asked if the server had grown up in whatever country and eaten food similar to what was on the menu. Of course they said yes. Then it was easy to ask what they ate as kids.

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: saacnmama

                                                                                                    When I've asked about entrees or menu advice for items that seem to be popular with kids, quite a few places (non-chains, mostly ethnic) have mentioned off the menu options to me. Typically, it's just a less-spicy version or protein substitution but it's usually a winner. I would never assume that I could order a dish not on the menu but I've often been happily surprised by a waitpersons offer or suggestion when asking for their advice.

                                                                                                    1. re: sebetti

                                                                                                      Absolutely ask! If it's anything but a fast food place most restaurants can and will happily make substitutions especially if they are cheaper and easier. Our favorite fish place has very fresh well made food but, pretty much fried everything on the kids menu, lots of fried fish on the adult menu too for that matter. But they will happily substitute grilled catfish for fried, cold boiled shrip for fried and any of the other sides for french fries. Fish Daddy I love you!!! Anyway, we eat there about once a week on average and my 6yo son is more and more into experimenting with the adult menu. Sob. Let's do the math, 4.99 for the grilled catfish and broccoli versus 13.99 for the tilapia alexander.... yikes. And we foolishly let him have crab once so now that is what he ALWAYS wants and he's been begging to branch into lobster. Ack. I'm not that into chains but Red Lobster does have a kids crab legs on their kids menu, way to go RL.

                                                                                                      I think I'll just have to do that one at home since eating it out will be soo expensive. plus we'll get a little lesson in how live food winds up dead on our plates followed immediately with the buttery deliciousness of it all. That child loves all forms of seafood except raw oysters, which he did try and didn't like. And yes he will have to try them again the next time I get them.

                                                                                                      More and more restaurants are offering half-portions of standard entrees which can also be helpful both for parents and those who just want to see less food on the plate so that's good too. But mealtimes are are meant to be fun not fights so on those days I say, rock the mac and cheese.

                                                                                                  2. We just had a "duh" moment at a local restaurant. The kids' menu looked like it was just smaller sized servings from the regular menu so we let the 8-year-old order from it. No dice. The kids' food was so bland and pathetic (the adult food was not) that we had to share our meals with her just so she could have something to eat.
                                                                                                    We resolved then that no matter how much longer it will take us to order we will begin reading the menu together with our child and fully discussing which choices she may like.
                                                                                                    All three of us were very disappointed at how misleading the kids' menu was. I don't think this is the norm but I know to be more careful now.

                                                                                                    1. I have a brother whose kids have grown up on nothing but mac n cheese, chicken nuggets and hot wings, mostly because his wife can't cook and he traveled for his job when they were young, so that's what she fed them. Now they'll only eat veggies if they're breaded and fried, slathered in cheese or ranch dressing.
                                                                                                      Now I won't say my children weren't exposed to their share of Happy Meals and blue-box mac and cheese, but if we're out in a restaurant, they have no interest in the items on the children's menu. They'll either order an entree and split it, or they'll talk me or the wife into ordering something they can split with us. I don't mind, most places put enough food on the plate for two meals, anyway.
                                                                                                      I can't even get them to eat school lunches because they say the nuggets, pizza and burgers that rotate on the menu every two weeks are nasty. They'd rather take a sandwich, wrap or roll-up, with some homemade slaw or pasta salad. It's a little more work for me in the mornings, but at least I know they'll eat it.

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: podunkboy

                                                                                                        My son won't eat the school lunch for the same reason. And he's right.

                                                                                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                          You beat me to it. I was just going to post this link. Article pretty much sums up how I feel about this issue (although we aren't quite as militant about the sit-down family dinner. We do our best.)

                                                                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                            Wow, that's scary. Have we really reach a point where pizza restaurants need kid's menus?

                                                                                                            I'm also from one of those families that ate every meal possible together. Breakfast and dinner every day, lunch on weekends. Both parents worked full time, but made it work. My father passed away when I was seven, left my mom to raise two kids while working full time as a teacher and attending grad school, and we still managed to have a homemade family dinner every night. Part of the solution was that my brother and I helped in the kitchen from day one. By the time I was in 6th grade I was cooking dinner on my own one night a week and my brother was doing all the clean up.

                                                                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                              Amen! We have dinner as a family every night at the table. It's always been very important to me, as it was to my mother and grandparents. I cook one meal and everyone eats the same thing. I'm no short order cook who makes two and three different meals to satisfy everyone's tastes.

                                                                                                              1. re: lynnlato

                                                                                                                ah... until your teenage daugther goes vegetarian... for us that has meant we are mostly veggie now, as I don't like making two meals. But now, sometimes, I do, if only to give my teenage son some red meat.

                                                                                                            2. I had an interesting experience with my niece a few weeks ago. The whole family went out to dinner at a very nice restaurant for my mom's birthday. My niece, who is 8 (and 6 months younger than my son) was flustered at being at such a place, confused about the array of silverware and the whole issue of what to do with her napkin, etc. because she had never really been taken out to a place like this before. And it's not an issue of affordability- with my brother & SIL it was definitely that they had bought into the idea that kids just don't enjoy fine dining and it would be a waste of money etc.

                                                                                                              So she proceeds to order some very interesting food from the menu - much to the shock of my brother - and enjoyed every morsel on her plate. She also completely stunned my SIL when she asked my son if she could try his calamari - which she absolutely loved, and she has since gone on to convert some of her girlfirends. My brother still can't believe it.

                                                                                                              They've always marveled at a what a good eater our son is and I know they thought we were crazy taking him out to all the places he's been to it. But than they would complain non-stop about what a picky eater my niece is. It just amazed me that they couldn't make the connection between their acceptance of the current "wisdom" regarding what children will eat and my niece's pickiness.

                                                                                                              1. I have 2 kids (daughter 5 1/2; son 3 1/2). My daughter eats everything, and I mean everything (and she always has -- "they" said it would change but thankfully it did not). Pesto, smoked salmon on a bagel, lamb chops to name a few things that most (or many) of her friends would not go near. Plus she eats a very wide variety of vegetables and almost all fruit. And even if she doesn't like something, she will try it (last night I made grilled asparagus and although she didn't really like it, she willingly gave it a good try).

                                                                                                                My son, on the other hand, started off eating everything and then became much pickier (looks at something and says "I don't like it"). I make him try things, but it is definitely more of a challenge. He likes to eat, but just has a more limited repertoire of things he will eat.

                                                                                                                The thing is that my kids eat my home-cooked food about 5 nights a week. I am always trying new dishes, some with more success than others (particularly with my son), but I never stop trying. Many weeks I will cook at least 1 new dish (last week it was a quinoa/chicken dish which my daughter liked and my son tried, but then rejected). I will try quinoa again in different way in a few weeks.

                                                                                                                So my philosphy on kids menus is this...since they eat "my" relatively healthy food for breakfast, lunch and dinner about 5 times week, why is it so bad if they have chicken fingers and fries or a hamburger and fries in a restaurant once in a while? I don't expect a restaurant to cater to my kids needs, but I look at is as more of a treat for them.

                                                                                                                Disney is a whole separate category. We were there recently and I couldn't wait to get away from all that fried food. But I kept reminding myself that it is a very rare occasion (actually never) where my son eats french fries for lunch and dinner for 4 days straight (though he did eat some pasta and at least he ate a lot of fruit too!).

                                                                                                                1. we never order off the kids menu. i think this trend started with parents trying to save money and/or restaurants trying to make it. one would figure that without the kids menu, picky eaters wouldn't eat anything at a restaurant. there are also those parents that don't want to give their little ones some of their crab cake or shrimp bc it's $$$. i am reaping the cost of ignoring this, my 2.5yo's favorite restaurant food is sushi, her favorite item is salmon sashimi.

                                                                                                                  1. A new restaurant opened near us in the last few weeks. By their own description they are a "neighborhood cafe and bar specializing in comfort foods with a "new southern" twist." This is directly from their Facebook page:

                                                                                                                    Relish is a café and bar, a gourmet retail market, and a recreational culinary school that celebrates a love of food, drink, cooking, and entertaining in an upscale atmosphere without the upscale price tag. We will get inspiration from both the traditional “tried and true” recipes and also from the latest food trends to encourage full exploration of the culinary world.
                                                                                                                    The Relish café side will focus on comfort foods--anything that is homey, rich, and hearty and conjures up images of nostalgic indulgences shared with family and friends. The food will be of the “new southern" style—southern classics that have been modernized and made with more current ingredients while still retaining the heart and comfort of the original dishes. Everything will be made from the best ingredients available with the shortest distance from farm to market and served as overflowing portions—all while keeping the prices comfortable, too. We will feature gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and made to order macaroni and cheese skillets—the ultimate in old fashioned comfort foods that have been dressed up with contemporary flavor combinations.

                                                                                                                    They go on and on in that vein. The following is taken directly from their menu:

                                                                                                                    Served with choice of one farm fresh side and small drink 4.50
                                                                                                                    Kid Hamburger/Cheeseburger
                                                                                                                    Kid Mac & Cheese
                                                                                                                    Kid Marinara
                                                                                                                    Kid PB&J
                                                                                                                    Kid Grilled Cheese
                                                                                                                    Kid Fried Chicken Finger
                                                                                                                    Kid Fish Sticks

                                                                                                                    Anyone notice any incongruity between their message and their implementation?

                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: rockycat

                                                                                                                        Is that kid's menu a big stretch from "We will feature gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and made to order macaroni and cheese skillets" ?

                                                                                                                        It appears to be a comfort food restaurant with a "classic" kid's menu.

                                                                                                                        1. re: 512window

                                                                                                                          I don't see fish sticks, PB&J, or chicken fingers on the adult menu. Nor am I seeing panzanella, roasted shrimp salad, shrimp and grits or grilled salmon on the kids' menu,

                                                                                                                          The whole problem is the "classic" kids menu.

                                                                                                                      2. I have a really different take on this subject. My kids were fairly picky eaters when they were young. We ordered the PBJ many times and I was grateful it was there. They used to love going out because they could order off the kids menu and get sometimes "quasi-unhealthy" things they couldn't get at home. They always saved room for desert and they got to order POP. That was a big deal. Going out to eat was a big treat for them, it was not about "eat your veggies" or "just take one bite"- we could do that at home :)

                                                                                                                        I didn't care what they ate at a restaurant, I cared that they learned manners and how to properly use different utensils, greet the wait staff, keep their voice down, choose and order for themselves, etc. Maybe if you take your kids out several times per week, it could be a health issue and I would certainly understand that concern- but when I was younger with little kids- I was happy to only go out once a month to a "sit down" restaurant and let them order whatever they wanted.

                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                          I agree. My son is 18 months old and while he tends to like some random things like chili and some Indian flavors, he is relatively picky. I'm always glad when I see grilled cheese or a mini pizza on a kids menu as I know he will eat it. We don't take him out to eat very often, but when we do I don't want to spend that time trying to get him to eat something that he doesn't eat at home. I'll deal with trying to get him to eat veggies or fish when I'm in my own house.

                                                                                                                          1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                            I agree wholeheartedly. When we go out as a family, I want to have a nice time. If the kids menu, crayons, and bland menu items make it a peaceful and relaxing event, so be it. That doesn't change how we function at home, which is no special meals, try everything at least once, eat healthy food before dessert, etc.

                                                                                                                            Our daughter is a pretty adventurous eater, which is a joyful thing for this mother. :-) Now our problem is more likely to be affording her extravagant preferences. I have trained her well--crab and lobster are her favorites.

                                                                                                                            1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                              " I was happy to only go out once a month to a "sit down" restaurant and let them order whatever they wanted."

                                                                                                                              We like to let our son order whatever he wants as well - in his case, it's just never anything from the children's menu - and never was.

                                                                                                                            2. honestly, hearing the latter posts makes me upset. why is feeding them junk food treating them like kids? there is absolutely no reason to do this just because they are younger. and in fact it sets them up for bad eating habits. give them something bland if that's their preference, it doesn't have to be junk food.

                                                                                                                              28 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: fara

                                                                                                                                Maybe you are reading too much into it.

                                                                                                                                I enjoy "junk food" too sometimes. I enjoy it because I don't eat it often and I don't cook it or buy it at home. It becomes a 'treat". I especially like dilly bars at Dairy Queen. I like hamburgers and fries once in a while too. Why wouldn't my kids get to have it once in a while too?

                                                                                                                                1. re: fara

                                                                                                                                  OK, I'm taking the gloves off here: Eating is a pleasure, not holy writ. Telling kids not to eat what their friends eat at a restaurant sets up stressful feelings about the dinner table. Directing their attention to other menu items makes food a Didactic Exercise rather than the nourishing, healing, fun, varied joy it's meant to be.

                                                                                                                                  I'm sorry if these posts "upset" you. Maybe you need interests other than food, because these "OH GOD NO NOT KIDS MENU" posts seem a little...unbalanced. In every sense of the word. Not every meal has to be an Uplifting and Broadening Experience of Fine Cuisines.

                                                                                                                                  I eat junk food sometimes. So does my son -- has his whole life. He's 17 and just had Salmon Wellington for dinner before going off to a music rehearsal. So letting him have corn dogs or chicken nuggets and fries have caused no "bad eating habits. (And, by the way, eating food YOU don't like / approve of is not necessarily a "bad eating habit.".)

                                                                                                                                  I think this whole Chowhound thing of crying "Junk food! Junk food! Booga booga booga" is really kind of silly No food is bad. No food is perfect. Eat everything and anything.

                                                                                                                                  Jeeez, people. It's food. In a nation where one sixth of children don't get enough to eat. Get a life, man.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: jmckee

                                                                                                                                    Yes everyone can eat junk food on occasion, most of us do. That's not the point.

                                                                                                                                    The idea that "This what kids eat" was what concerned me. What I read from it is that "Children only like bland, sugary, greasy, and/or fried food". I've known many a child who was a picky eater, and sometimes they go through phases, but this is a gross generalization. And the ones I do know could usually find something other than this on a menu that they would eat. And it's emphasized by TV/media. So it makes it harder to convince your kid that this is NOT what people eat everyday.

                                                                                                                                    It reminded me of a paper I once read about what Victorians fed to their children. They supposed that children's digestive systems were under developed and could only handle simple bland foods like gruel and perhaps a bit of broth (and other things that were deemed appropriate that I forget). This idea lead to malnutrition.

                                                                                                                                    Now let's take my original example, Disney. Their kids menus (and regular menus) have started changing., e.g. fruit as a side dish, juice or milk instead of soda. Why? Because parents WANTED them to change. They wanted healthier, tastier food because they didn't want to feed their kids this stuff day in and day out. The average stay at Disneyland is 3 days, and about 5-6 days at Disney World. They also want to order off the kid's menu because it's a heck of a lot cheaper, and it's expensive to feed a family of four there.

                                                                                                                                    I think what people are saying is, why can't you offer something on your menu that isn't the same thing I see in every darn restaurant everywhere across the US? Why can't you offer me a small portion of things that are on the regular menu that is palatable to children? And for the picky eaters the standard bland stuff.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: cosmogrrl

                                                                                                                                      I totally agree with you about Disney. The food choices are abysmal and you pay through the nose for the pleasure of absolute crap! It is shocking that it is a place that is especially for kids and they know that kids will be eating three meals a day there - for days and days. Pathetic.

                                                                                                                                      I would guess it is a simple fact of economics for the regular restaurants. Most kids are not big adventurous eaters when that young so simple foods appeal to most of them -and it is the adults they are trying to "impress" with the food. When the kids are a bit bigger- they order off the adult menu.

                                                                                                                                      It's the same thing as "senior" menus- they are not the same as regular menus most of the time. They are not just smaller seving sizes, they are limited in scope as well. The "target demographic" makes the difference. Now if we could just get Chuck E. Cheese to add New York steaks for the parents- while the kids eat the cardboard pizza.......

                                                                                                                                    2. re: jmckee

                                                                                                                                      Right on. If you've known someone well who has struggled with severe eating disorders, you know it isn't about the food, it is about control. It isn't about the food, it is about the control. All human beings want some control in their life, even kids. That switch doesn't just flip on when they turn 18 or are on their own.

                                                                                                                                      Moderation is a blessed thing. My daughter will never subsist on a diet of junky kid food, nor would she want to, thankfully. But if we go out to a restaurant that serves food that isn't to her pleasing, I would much rather have an enjoyable evening out and know she is fed than to have a battle over ordering some adult fare she won't appreciate or eat.

                                                                                                                                      At home, she eats what we cook and our rule for her there is she must have protein and she must have a fruit or vegetable. I don't care if she eats every variety of healthy food available, I just want her to make at least one healthy choice in those categories. And she must always try something new just once.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: jmckee

                                                                                                                                        what does a kids menu have to do with "what their friends eat??" my daughter is 2 1/2. she doesnt care what her friends eat. i have never made anything off limits, but i'm not going to give her grilled cheese or a corn dog instead of what we're eating. i'm not against people giving their kids anything. i'm against people assuming kids will only eat junk food.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: fara

                                                                                                                                          You are making an assumption that can't be proven -- an assumption that frankly says more about YOUR thinking than the thinking of the restaurateurs in question.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: fara

                                                                                                                                        You've never eaten junk food? Sometimes I eat grilled cheese and sometimes so does my son. He also likes chicken with red curry sauce. If we are on a Thai restaurant, that's what he'll eat. It has nothing to do with being bland or "setting him up for bad eating habits". We rarely go out to eat. When we do, there is a good chance my son is getting grilled cheese or pizza since we know he'll eat it without incident. Occasionally eating "junk food" is not a bad eating habit. Learning moderation, and having the ability to enjoy " good food" as well as "junk food" is a good thing.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: donovt

                                                                                                                                          we eat junk food occasionally. we had hot dogs for dinner this week. the point is, when you go out to eat why do you need to give your kid junk food if that's not what you're having. that is the point guys, and most people miss this.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: fara

                                                                                                                                            I'm confused. Does everyone in your party order identical meals when you dine out? At home, giving the kids "what you're having" makes sense. Not so much at a restaurant.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: fara

                                                                                                                                              I went to lunch with my 4 year old nephew recently. I had a lobster roll, his mother had crab cakes, his dad had swordfish and he had a hot dog from the kid's menu. Should he have had fish just so his parents can prove that their kid isn't some kind of philistine when it comes to food?

                                                                                                                                              1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                                no, but he shouldn't not have fish offered to him just because it isn't "kid food"

                                                                                                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                  i think people are so ingrained to order off the kids menu because after all it says "kids!" that they don't realize it.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: fara

                                                                                                                                                    I think most people know what their kids will or won't eat whether it is listed as a kids menu or not.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: donovt

                                                                                                                                                      but the adult portions are huge and wasteful for a smaller child. my son is 6. he cannot eat a huge portion of food. it is physically impossible to fit in in his little stomach. Offer chicken fingers or mac and cheese, sure. my kid eats chicken fingers on occasion. but also offer a 3 oz portion of salmon, a slider sized quality burger, a small steak, etc.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                        I don't disagree that there could be better options as well as the usuals. I just take offense to the people who make it seem like letting my son eat an occasional grilled cheese is setting him up for a lifetime of poor eating. As you said earlier, we should treat our kids like people. As a person, my son sometimes gets to eat junk food. Just like I do.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: donovt

                                                                                                                                                          we agree i think. the problem is that for most restaurants all there is on the kids menu is fried and bland.....

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                            I'm also finding that many restaurants who do "healthier" kids fares don't have tasty kids fare. Who likes mealy apple slices or overcooked broccoli?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                              Mr Thew

                                                                                                                                                              There is a children's menu, it is called the menu. There are items on that menu that you want your children to eat but the restaurant won't make in a smaller portion so children can eat the whole plate in one sitting (why that is important escapes me). You could order it but you do not want to because it is too large for your children. It sounds like this is where you need to decide whether it is more important for your children to eat what you want them to eat and either throw out or take in a doggie or order the "correct" size but not like the choices.

                                                                                                                                                              I view the children's menu as an accomodation and have absolutely no problem with the hamburgers, hot dogs, fingers and grilled cheese. Children have been eating it for ears, me and my children included and many grow up to like "higher end" food .

                                                                                                                                                              Would you be willing to pay for a "adult" size portion if they were to make it smaller?

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: nobadfoodplz

                                                                                                                                                                As I've been saying for a year in this thread-

                                                                                                                                                                I do order from the main menu for my child. I have no problem with my kd havinga hot dog. I've made my choices. But it would be nice to NOT waste money and NOT waste food; surely that's a better scenario.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                            Large portions are wasteful for anyone who doesn't want to eat the whole meal.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                                                                                              there's a difference between you one wants to eat and what one is physically capable of eating

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                              Bringing portion size into the discussion, a lot of restaurants will pre-cut their proteins, and I wonder if they feel like having to add children's sized portions into the mix would lead to difficulties/waste in terms of getting the right number of each type. The most common 'grown-up food' item on the kids' menus down here is typically grilled or fried shrimp, and I suspect that the appeal on the part of the restaurants down here is that you can just grab 4-6 shrimp out of the cooler to cook up and you probably aren't screwing up the portioning too much for the adult side of the menu that brings in the big money.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: beachmouse


                                                                                                                                                                astonishing how many people think that 1/2 size protein portions should equal 1/2 size prices, when it's quadruple the labor and triple the waste. just because the grilled organic chicken breast or the order of sashimi is for a child, doesn't automatically mean it should be $3, either. unfortunately in the "kids eat free" landscape it can be very difficult because people's expectations are all over the place.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                  speaking only for myself - i would expect a 1/2 size portion to be about 3/4 the price or so to a full portion. the price is less the issue than the portion size to me.

                                                                                                                                                                  there's a great bistro, pricey, in my 'hood that has a kid's menu that includes items like a 3oz grilled salmon, a tuna burger, homemade fish fingers, spaghetti, mini-burgers, and a chicken cutlet. all portioned to smaller sizes. none of them are cheap i assure you. i let my son order whatever he wants - kids menu or regular - bur being 6 the idea of a menu just for him pleases him, and it's nice to have options he likes that don't make me crazy

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                    Yes, I agree with expectations being all over the place- and I think there is a big difference between restaurants that are clearly more "family friendly" and the ones that have an *obligatory* children's menu because some customers bring their children.

                                                                                                                                                                    Some people bring kids to restaurants that are clearly not catering to children in either meals or environment. So, maybe those restaurants are sending a subtle message....

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: fara

                                                                                                                                                        I consider going out to be a treat, for myself as well as my son. He can have vegetables at home. While what I'm eating is generally not junk food, it's usually something I don't eat regularly at home. Same for my son.

                                                                                                                                                  2. My kids eat a variety of healthy and home-cooked foods at home (ok, some not so healthy!), but the very rare times we eat out they're allowed to eat what they want. Boxed mac'n'cheese marked up 500% sometimes is what they want. For my kids, this is a rare (monthly or less) treat. I do make homemade chicken fingers with homemade ranch dipping sauce, baked macaroni and cheese and baked sweet potato fries occasionally.

                                                                                                                                                    They also range from underweight to 50th percentile for weight on the growth chart and are very active, so a little food like this won't hurt them.

                                                                                                                                                    BUT, I've noticed that when I have friends' families over for dinner, it's make something different at my own risk. I've actually had a friend's daughter refuse to eat anything I served, even saying she only likes the strawberries at her own house (even though her mom and I shop at the same store). Her mom reassured me her kids ate bread and cheese when they got home. What a relief ... (heavy sarcasm). The same little girl recently asked why my kids "have to" eat vegetables ... I told her it's because vegetables help our brains think well and anyone who wants their brains to think well eats their veggies. (Hate me, but I couldn't help it ... so many comments from her over the years and at least this reply quieted her while my kids ate.) I think kids' pickiness is usually more of a control issue, at least in my experience, but that's a whole other post ...

                                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: SAHCook

                                                                                                                                                      Amen on your last paragraph, SAHCook. I can't tell you how often I had to bite my tongue (and how often I didn't, or rolled my eyes) at my sister and her 6-year-old son this last week. I've never been a parent, and granted, he eats as I should, I suppose...after stomach surgery...but the things he's picked up from his parents, and what they cater to for him are apalling.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: SAHCook

                                                                                                                                                        I treated my kids (now late teens) much as you do yours and they turned out fine. I will never forget though the time I invited a couple and their 12 year old son for dinner. I was told that he was very picky, but that he would eat chicken and broccoli. So I made sure that those were on the menu. But neither was prepared (apparently) in an acceptable way (the brocolli was roasted, and the chicken was grilled; who knew?). Made me sorry I bothered!

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: SAHCook

                                                                                                                                                          Love the last paragraph! Really made me laugh out loud!

                                                                                                                                                          "I told her it's because vegetables help our brains think well and anyone who wants their brains to think well eats their veggies."

                                                                                                                                                          I now some parent may disagree, but i think kids do have to hear a snarky comment or two about their behavior to grow up properly.

                                                                                                                                                        2. my 12yo nephew just spent his first solo weekend with us and I was so proud of him. I told him "no kids menus" at my house... he was a little nervous but I said all I wanted was for him to TRY a bite of whatever we were having. and he did! he didn't love all of it, but he tried it, and he did learn to like a couple new things. I wish my sister and BIL were raising him to be a little more adventurous with food, but I guess that will just be part of my job. :)

                                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jujuthomas

                                                                                                                                                            As a loving and doting aunt, I do think that kids will act differently with their own parents than with others. So even if your family tried, the nephew may act differently at home.

                                                                                                                                                            My niece and nephew, raised by the same parents in the same way, are total food opposites. One eats most things, the other will only eat six bland things. You can get into a fight tantrum, let him go angry, or give him one of those few things. The point, though, is that parenting alone is not the sole cause of a picky eater, I think.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cocktailhour

                                                                                                                                                              <The point, though, is that parenting alone is not the sole cause of a picky eater, I think.>

                                                                                                                                                              very true - however I've heard my BIL tell the kids "oh, you won't like that, it's weird" when they ask about something they've never tried. I was like WHAT???

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: jujuthomas

                                                                                                                                                                Stuff like that drives me nuts! I watched one set of friends do that with their kids. One incident stands out in my memory - we had a sparkling non-alcoholic punch (sparkling water, fresh squeezed juices) that the mom told the kids they wouldn't like so she ran down to the grocery store to buy them root beef.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                                                                  that is wrong on *so* many levels!

                                                                                                                                                          2. It is terrible that the food industry dictates what children should eat and practically convinces them that they should like unhealthy food. I never ate off the kids menu growing up, unless if it was at nice restaurants where the choices included grilled chicken sandwiches, shrimp, or pasta dishes. Whats worse is that parents think these unhealthy choices are acceptable! The first time I had boxed mac & cheese was when I babysat, the parents went out for a nice dinner, the kids ate the mac&cheese, thats all, no vegetables....I was disgusted! I would hope that things are changing since I was a child, I remember that for school lunch only teachers/adults could order salad, the kids had to have whatever was being served that day. The only time I could have salad for lunch was when my mom volunteered and ordered one for me, crazy!

                                                                                                                                                            14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: WhatsEatingYou

                                                                                                                                                              Was that at my house? :) The 3-4 times a year we get a babysitter I always feed the kids boxed mac'n'cheese or take & bake pizza, and they eat on paper plates with plastic silverware. Veggies rarely make an appearance at those dinners.

                                                                                                                                                              On the rare occasion I get a night off, I don't want to rush around cooking and cleaning up a kitchen before I leave. Or especially after I get home. And those are two dinners I'm confident any babysitter can finish if needed, regardless of cooking skills (or lack thereof!). It's a special night for the kids, too (they LOVE their babysitters), and for them it *is* a special meal, not an everyday one.

                                                                                                                                                              I agree, the salad thing is crazy - I remember really liking salads in middle/high school!

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: SAHCook

                                                                                                                                                                i think people/restaurants assume kids wont like the food on the "regular" menu. but other than having the same choices, but maybe in "kids size" portions, kids menus are bull. how is a kid gonna develop any taste if his/her only choice is chicken nuggets and hot dogs? my parents rarely fed us hot dogs or chicken nuggets at home, so why would we want that crap when we went out to eat, which is supposed to be somewhat special? i wanted to eat what they were eating! but i was never a picky eater and my parents were somewhat adventurous in their diets, so that was reflected in my food preferences growing up.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: SAHCook

                                                                                                                                                                  I'm with you SAHcook. The last thing I am worried about when we go out is the meal left for the kids. I might even *try to make things easier on the babysitter* by leaving something simple and kid-friendly. And when my husband and I get to the pub, we're not so focussed on getting our veggies either! It's a night out...

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: SAHCook

                                                                                                                                                                    When I was growing up, it was always a little exciting from a food standpoint when I had a babysitter/parents went out for the evening because it meant I got to have either a tv dinner or a frozen pot pie for dinner, and they were tasty (if a bit salt-filled) exotic treat compared to usual dinner fare.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: beachmouse

                                                                                                                                                                      yea i could see that , if u are used to growing up with "real food" then dinner with the swansons could be seen as exotic, since u dont have it very much.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: beachmouse

                                                                                                                                                                        That's exactly the way it was for me growing up, and for my kids (now teenagers). My kids (as toddlers) loved those frozen kids meals with the little chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs! But they only had them 2 or 3 times a year. Same with kids meals at restaurants. I was happy when they were 10 or so and could order, or at least share, an adult entree, but before that the kids meals were handy, since they were a "known quantity". Unhealthy, sure, but tasty :). Same with soda; we don't buy it at home, so they sometimes have it at a restaurant (but usually they just say "water is fine"). Don't judge too much if you don't know what's going on at home.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: WhatsEatingYou

                                                                                                                                                                      I think the problem with this whole conversation is that there are several completely different schools of thought going on here:
                                                                                                                                                                      1) eating out happens often - ergo kids order from the kids menu often - ergo the kids menu needs to be healthier (or it's just fine as is because fried food is just fine)
                                                                                                                                                                      2) eating out is a treat - therefore the kids should get a treat too, let them eat fries!

                                                                                                                                                                      We, however, are in the 3rd camp which has been danced around but not really stated:

                                                                                                                                                                      3) eating out is a treat - but bland fried foods are NOT a treat for my child. We don't serve them at home and he (at this stage) has no real desire to eat them any more than any other strange food he's never tried. If I'm making him try strange foods, I want it to be asparagus, not french fries. All in all, I get that kids' menus have crap on them for the people who see it as a fun treat or those that don't care, but ordering a $20 entree for a toddler so he can try a bite is a waste of money we don't have and a waste of food that may or may not keep well in the fridge for us to eat as leftovers - and if we're on vacation, forget it. There's no place for leftovers. The few times we have gone out to eat with him (and we have annual passes to Disney, so that's most of them), it's been a horrible exercise in frustration - us grown ups can handle a meal or even a few days of crappy food and deal with a bit of a stomachache. My salmon and spinach-loving toddler, however, gets eczema from the food dyes and indigestion and diarrhea off that fare and ruins the whole trip. We now bring our own food for him when we go out, or just share from our plates - I would love for him to begin to experience the joys of experimenting with new foods, ordering from a menu and the like, but not when kids' menus will make him sick, mis-teach him that those are the only foods acceptable to him, and cost me extra money. Simply one half-size "grown up" option on a kids' menu would make me weep with joy.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: thursday

                                                                                                                                                                        u know, that would be a good idea. the same as whats on the regular "adult" menu, just in kid sized portions. that would actually be awesome. why dont they have that? ur a friggin genius and its too bad restaurants havent thought of this. that would be the perfect solution and i wish there were some way to get that message to every restaurant in the country!

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: thursday

                                                                                                                                                                          Why don't you just let him choose an appetizer for himself, or a couple of sides?

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: small h

                                                                                                                                                                            Occasionally we do, depending on the spot, though the sides are often just veggies, which he may or may not eat (spinach with garlic: yes, spinach with anything else: no, etc.) and the apps are often salads or soups (no go) or not really a "meal" (plain flatbreads, etc.). He's just a toddler, so much of this is bound to change as he gets older, but we try to encourage a well-rounded meal even when we go out, including some carbs, some protein, and some veg, for both him and us...

                                                                                                                                                                            But you're right. I'm probably being nitpicky. I would just like to have the option of him getting to try what the grown ups are having. He's in the stage where every meal is a bit of a fight, so I'd like to feel it has a greater endgame than just shoving food into his face.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: thursday

                                                                                                                                                                              When my oldest was a toddler we did indeed just feed her from our plates. Perhaps order an (extra) appetizer, not for him specifically but so there is more for everyone to share. We didn't often go to places with kids' menus at that point anyway and she certainly didn't care about selecting from a menu she couldn't read. Now that she is older and pickier, she also has a younger sister, so if there is no kids' menu they split a meal. Most recently Vietnamese broken rice with pork chop and fried egg. Or maybe Turkish pide, with pepperoni rather than the more authentic toppings that we want. If she sees a kids' menu she will want to order crap from it, but that's obviously not the case for properly raised chowkids ;)

                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: thursday

                                                                                                                                                                            I think I might have posted this upthread somewhere but I'm too lazy to check so...

                                                                                                                                                                            when my son was little, we just didn't order him an entree. My husband and I chose dishes that we thought we had a reasonable chance of him eating and we shared with him. Worked great. He has never, not once, ordered off of a crappy children's menu. Around the age of 7 or 8, he ate enough that he needed his own order. And he has always ordered from the adult menu.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                              this is us as well. we always order at least one order if not both of something our 3 year old "may" eat. often I ask her if she wants what I"m thinking of. She has eaten off a crappy children's menu with grandma, but not with me (oh the joys of...kraft mac n cheese, seriously?)
                                                                                                                                                                              the last few times we went out she had some of our rice and beans and oxtail, and before that her half of the pizza was buffalo mozz pizza with mushrooms. sounds exotic but really isn't.
                                                                                                                                                                              since restaurants aren't likely to have a kids menu of real entrees out of fear of adults ordering off of it, perhaps they could cater to children by expanding entrees by kid size portions? i.e. 1+kid size.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: fara

                                                                                                                                                                                "perhaps they could cater to children by expanding entrees by kid size portions? i.e. 1+kid size."

                                                                                                                                                                                What a great idea!!!

                                                                                                                                                                        2. Kid's menus should be banned world-wide (actually, I cannot remember seeing a kid's menu in Europe or South America). That is so damn irritating. Why oh why are there such things? When did kid-menus start? Children should eat the same foods as adults and there should be no menu segregation.

                                                                                                                                                                          8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: MaxSeven

                                                                                                                                                                            Kid's menus definitely exist in Europe.

                                                                                                                                                                            I don't see the big deal. My kid is picky (and no, I'm not, nor is my husband, and yes, we've always tried to get him to eat new things, with varying degrees of success) and I like to be able to find something he will reliably eat so we can all have an enjoyable dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: eastofnevada

                                                                                                                                                                              the big deal is that kids menus are all the same, unhealthy crap.....which is ok once in a while, or if u have a picky kid, which i get (even though my kid wasnt picky). but they its just always the same stuff...chicken tenders, mac and cheese, hot dogs. i think what a lot of people are saying is why cant the kids menu ALSO include some other options, like some of the selections that are the "adult" menu, just in smaller portions. my kid was ok with chicken tenders, etc, but he also liked most of the same stuff we did, and i would have appreciating being able to let him eat something healthier or more varied than just what was/is on most limited "kids menus". a little more variety along with the typical stuff would be nice.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: MaxSeven

                                                                                                                                                                              Kid's menus should be banned? By who? And even if that was meant to be hyperbole, people should have the right to choose what to feed their own kid, it's nobody else's business. And restaurants are only meeting a demand, no one is forcing parents to buy from the kid's menu. My son never ordered from the kids menu when he was little, he just shared our plates until he was big enough to order his own entree. Problem solved.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                Yeah, really. Obviously the kids' menus are filling a need for *someone* or they wouldn't be there.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                  It shall be banned by me and the growing number of followers I lead in a crusade against kid's menus and philistine parents whom coddle their child's severely limited palette. I think restaurants should make it their business as to what parents are serving their kids and enforce a regiment of superior cuisine, and none of this crapola mac and cheese, cheese pizza, chicken nuggets, hotdogs, buttered pasta, etc. Also, restaurants should not permit people (kid or adult) to order an entree without something on it (e.g. I'll have the Caesar salad with "no anchovies"). Shouldn't be allowed. All must eat the cuisine as the chef originally designed it. The only place where a kids menu should be allowed is a place like McDonald's - of course the entire menu at McDonalds is infantile to begin with. mMMBwaaah Ha Ha Ha Haaaaa!

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MaxSeven

                                                                                                                                                                                    i think we've found the FOOD NAZI.... :) i will agree with u that mcdonalds sucks bad. any place that has to use beef thats been treated with ammonia in order for it to be "safe".....yikes.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MaxSeven

                                                                                                                                                                                      Again, this seems to be a singly snarky point of view. Don't like the menu? Don't order off it. But it's OK for you to say you don't like it for YOU. What's wrong is to say you don't like it for ANYBODY. In other words, to echo other comments here, what people feed their own kids is none of your damned business.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jmckee

                                                                                                                                                                                        Snarky indeed - clearly I am being facetious. Actually, since restaurants are public places, and the menus they publish are being read by me, then I would say that it is my business as to what is offered in the way of a kid's menu and that gives me the right to express my OPINION of such matters. Since the kid's menus do in fact exist, that means that parents are allowing kids to choose from it, thus it became my business when I saw the options on the menu. I'd also add that my children do not order from the kid's menu, nor would they care to. If you don't want people to know (keep it a secret) that you are ordering (i.e. it's no one's business) from the kid's menu, then I'd suggest not participating in a discussion about it. With respect - Max.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. We were visiting my child's friend from camp this past weekend. We're out-of-towners and don't know any of the local restaurants. Friend's mom asks where do we want to go for dinner.
                                                                                                                                                                                  10-year-old #1 : "Lebanese!"
                                                                                                                                                                                  10-year-old #2: "Ethiopean!"
                                                                                                                                                                                  7-year-old: "Taqueria!"

                                                                                                                                                                                  I have a new favorite mom. She's obviously doing something right with her kids.

                                                                                                                                                                                  First, change the parents' behavior. Then the kids will follow.

                                                                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: rockycat

                                                                                                                                                                                    that sounds like what my son would have said when he was little. he loved sushi, any sort of mexican (im not talking taco bell), italian, indian, etc....i really think picky eaters are made, not born. either that or i was just lucky to have an open minded kid. of course we exposed him to the food of many cultures at a young age. he would eat smoked oysters and tuna rolls when he was 2 yrs old! mmmm now i want ethiopian :) we have some good ethiopian buffets in east denver/aurora. denver is a surprisingly great food city! some of the best pho ive ever had is right here in south denver.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cookmyassoff

                                                                                                                                                                                      You were lucky :)

                                                                                                                                                                                      My son is just started school and has lived in two very different parts of the US and overseas and been to restaurants in 5 countries. He still only wants burgers and fries when we're out. I let him have what he wants at restaurants, and when we're home (huge majority of the time) the rule is he has to taste everything on his plate. He's still picky.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: eastofnevada

                                                                                                                                                                                        oh yea, i definitely consider myself lucky that my son had a "willing palate" if u will, but i know we had a lot to do with that. some kids are just picky i guess. and growing up in northern california, there was easy access to a huge variety of different types of foods, restaurants, fresh produce, etc., so that helps. dont get me wrong, my kid also liked burgers and fries of course, (who doesnt) but he was very open to many cuisines. u put it on a plate, he would pretty much eat it, like his mother :) just keep doing what ur doing, requiring that he at least TRY different things, and he will probably come around as he gets older.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: cookmyassoff

                                                                                                                                                                                        "i really think picky eaters are made, not born"

                                                                                                                                                                                        I think it varies - some families, certainly, if the parents are unadventurous then the kids will be too. But sometimes a kid can still become picky even though offered a varied menu.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I know I was, and one of my brothers was also. It turns out we both have the same issues with congestion and we're both subtasters. Texture and appearance played a huge part of what we found appealing as kids because we could both barely taste our food and we really struggled to eat and breath at the same time. For both of us, we grew out of it as our congestion issues got better as we got older, and also once we could out-think our instincts and overcome the gag reflex :P

                                                                                                                                                                                        We both still have a lower than average sense of taste as far as I can tell but it's better than it was.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: eclecticsynergy

                                                                                                                                                                                          Sounds about right for my kid. I knew there was a reason I keep going back to Nags Head/kill Devil Hills.