Dining Out Expands Your Child’s Pallet
By: Carrie Anne Badov, everythingmom.com
Having kids does change your life but it doesn’t have to impede your love of food and dining out; relegating you to the world of family chain restaurants. Enjoying a delicious meal in a restaurant that appeals to your taste buds can also expand your child’s dining repertoire. Here are some tips when planning your next family dining experience:
Avoid the children’s menu
For many it’s become habit to ask for and order from the children’s menu when eating out with kids. In our experience most children’s menus are uninspiring and bland, offering boring hamburgers or macaroni and cheese. Children are born curious and are open to learning, why should their food be any different? If you’re lucky enough to encounter a restaurant that offers a unique twist to their children’s dishes, go for it or else stay clear.
Look for dishes that contain ingredients your kids like
If your child is a fan of macaroni and cheese, look for pasta-based dishes. If they like hamburgers, perhaps a meatloaf or fish cake dish will appeal to them. It sounds like an obvious option but sometimes the kids and even us get caught up in a dish’s name when ordering. A fish cake isn’t the same as a hamburger but your child might be more open to trying it because it’s round like a patty.
Share your food
When you have a really great meal you may not want to share, and some folks may frown on the act of sharing publicly, but offering your child a bite from your dish might excite them to try something similar next time.
Two of the reasons many parents opt for the children’s menu is price and quantity. Small people have small appetites so no one wants to pay for a full adult meal knowing it will go to waste. There are some alternatives:
Ask about shared plates
For a small fee some restaurants will allow you to split an adult meal between two plates. This enables you to share that grilled salmon with basmati rice or roast rabbit with root vegetables between two smaller people. Sometimes the restaurant will split the meal for you while others will bring you a second clean plate to divide the meal yourself. The fee for shared plates may be noted at the bottom of the menu or you can ask your server.
Order from the appetizer or small menu
Appetizers or small plates are a great way to start a meal but they don’t have to just be eaten as starters. You can sometimes find interesting food options that appeal to your kids and the best part is the meal size is small and so is the price. Ordering from the small menu at the Topnotch Resort and Spa Flannel restaurant in Stowe, Vermont is how my son discovered his love of Oysters.
Try fixe prix dining experiences
Another great way to expose your kids to new dining options and maybe discover something new for yourself is to try fixe prix experiences. Meals are a set price and usually include a starter, main and dessert. If you can view menus online, you can discuss meal options with the kids ahead of time.
I believe one of our roles as parents is to educate our children about the world around them, providing them with varied and broad experiences. We enroll them in after school activities, send them to music classes, even bring in tutors to work on developing new languages, why not help them expand their love of food?
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