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Restaurants Incorporating Healthier Menus for Children

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In an effort to get families to dine out more, many restaurants are revamping childrens menus in order to make them healthier. According to a study performed recently by market research firm Mintel International Group Ltd., parents are looking for healthier alternatives to the standard kids' menus containing chicken fingers, grilled cheese sandwiches, and macaroni and cheese.

* P.F. Chang's China Bistro Inc. and The Cheesecake Factory Inc. - These restaurants added their first-ever kids' menus. P.F. Chang's new menu includes entrees such as the Baby Buddha's Feast (contains steamed or stir-fried snap peas, carrots and broccoli) and kids' lo mein (egg noodles stir-fried with chicken).

* IHOP Corp., known for it funny-face pancakes, now offers the following meals for children: a Tilapia fillet served with steamed broccoli; an egg and pancake breakfast served with a scrambled egg substitute; and a kids' fresh fruit dish.

* Denny's Corp. recently removed several sugary and fatty items from its kids' menu, including French toast sticks, hot dogs, and packets of sugar and food coloring that can be added to beverages to make them change color. Denny's also added carrots, celery and cucumbers with Ranch dressing; vanilla yogurt with a strawberry topping; and spaghetti with marinara sauce to its kids' menu.

In addition, many restaurants are letting kids eat free on certain days in order to attract more customers.

For more information, contact The Food Cop (www.thefoodcop.com) at [email protected]

Add a Comment4 Comments

I think it's an excellent idea. Unfortunately, parents have the final say over what children will eat and children have lots of power over what the parent will decide. Although it's not on their menu, it is still on the menu and 9 out of 10 kids will not choose the beef and broccoli over the chicken tenders and french fries with a glass of coke on the side :-/

I hope this will help some with our kids menu selections but I fear that parents will pay the extra $3 for a regular adult sized meal that their kids will eat as opposed to the healthier alternative that they will just play with.

September 10, 2009 - 11:51am

These are great developments. And count me among the surprised about what kids will naturally choose. When restaurants like McDonald's or Chic-Fil-A started offering fruit or etc. as side alternatives to French fries, I was skeptical. What kid would choose applesauce over fries, I asked? But lo and behold, my own nieces and nephews do. Without prompting. To them, it's just an alternative they like. It proves that when healthy options are added, many people -- including kids -- will naturally choose them. Bravo for all the resturants who are realizing that healthy options are a way to build business.

September 9, 2009 - 10:18am

That's good news! This is a positive step forward. I just hope the meal sizes aren't too big. Children don't need a pile of food on their plates (nor do adults!)
I am always amazed in restaurants how the 'kids menu' is full of fried foods with chips on the side. When I eat out with the kids we normally skip the 'kids menu' and order a small size off the main menu to get healthy tasty foods. Why do restaurants think kids want to eat junk?

September 6, 2009 - 6:22pm

Healthier food choices just make plain good sense for everyone, especially kids. It has been a long time coming in most cases but seeing progress empowers everybody. Now all we have to do is make the right choices when presented with these options.

September 6, 2009 - 7:34am
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