By Katya Baxter, Nutritionist, MenuMax.com
The other day as I was getting my morning chai, I witnessed something that doesn’t happen very often: a lady behind the counter pretty much refused to serve a coke to a 3-year old! The result: the mother of the little girl walked out in embarrassment.
Perhaps this is not exactly the scenario you want your operation to face, but we have to agree that the state of children’s health and diet is facing a crisis. It is useless to point any fingers, but we can take ownership of the things we can do to make positive changes.
Many parents I talk to express their deep dissatisfaction about what kids’ menus have to offer. But kids still love their chicken fingers, fish sticks, and grilled cheese sandwiches. So what can you do to provide peace of mind to parents while giving your young customers what they want?
Here are several suggestions:
- Think small changes. Pasta is a great dish to experiment on with new ingredients. Every child loves it and you can easily sneak a few veggies into the sauce. You can also introduce healthier sides, such as apple slices, fruit cups, or baked potato wedges that go along with sandwiches, chicken fingers, fish sticks, etc.
- Substitute the ingredients. A pizza can go from containing only 1-2 grams of fiber to 7-8 grams simply by replacing all-purpose white flour with a whole wheat variety. The same thing will happen to your grilled cheese sandwich and mac and cheese!
- Implement healthier cooking techniques. Fish sticks or chicken fingers can be baked rather than fried. If you are making them in-house, try dusting with cornmeal, quinoa flakes, or crushed nuts or seeds.
- Think outside the box. Fish sticks don’t have to come from a fryer. Make small kebabs with fish from your regular menu: you can still call these ‘fish sticks’ – only with your own personal twist!
- Force the parents make conscious decisions about their child’s choices. When you offer fries or soda only upon request, you cause the parent to consciously make a decision about what their child will eat. It makes a big difference.
There are also creative ways to get kids excited about more wholesome foods. Check out one of my previous posts for ideas.
What does your kids’ menu look like?