• Home
    Home We Serve America's Restaurants Representing nearly 500,000 restaurant businesses, we advocate for restaurant and foodservice industry interests and provide tools and systems that help members of all sizes achieve success.
  • Foundation
    Foundation Building & Retaining Talent The NRAEF is focused on developing a stronger workforce and building the next generation of industry leaders through education, scholarships and community engagement.
  • Show
    Show May 18-21, 2019 As the international foodservice marketplace, the National Restaurant Association Show provides unparalleled opportunities for buyers and sellers to come together, conduct business and learn from each other.
  • ServSafe
    ServSafe Minimize Risk. Maximize Protection. For over 40 years, ServSafe® training programs have delivered the knowledge, leadership and protection that have earned the trust and confidence of business leaders everywhere.

National Restaurant Association - 5 ways to get kids to order healthful choices

Skip to navigation Skip to content

News & Research

News RSS

5 ways to get kids to order healthful choices

Mark National Nutrition Month by examining the nutritional content of your children’s menu. These seven chains, which participate in our Kids LiveWell program, offer ideas to make healthful options appeal to parents and kids.

Present healthful meals in creative packaging
 



Bluewater Grill decided to package its healthful kids’ items in bento boxes after investigating cute containers at the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show. Each bento box comes with carrot sticks and fruit, in addition to the protein and side item. The Newport Beach, Calif.-based company lists edamame, salad, mixed vegetables and rice on menus before other sides, such as fries and mashed potatoes. It also uses bamboo chopsticks for fish, chicken, shrimp and steak “dipping sticks,” rather than sharp skewers.

Entice kids to healthful menu items


Tailor items to age ranges


Create items that appeal to older children or “tweens,” says James Clark, food and beverage director, Mama Fu’s Asian House. Kids over 10 have more sophisticated palates and order bolder, interactive items, says Steven Sturm, corporate chef, Firebirds Wood Fired Grill. Charlotte, N.C.-based Firebirds offers a mix of healthful and indulgent items so parents can guide their children to make the right choices, such as the mahi mahi shown above.

Tweens might be too old to order items with cutesy names but not ready for a full adult meal, so Austin, Texas-based Mama Fu’s modified two of its more “accessible” dinner entrees for kids: sweet and sour and teriyaki. The kids' versions include steamed chicken with broccoli and carrots tossed in sweet and sour or teriyaki sauce. Guests can substitute tofu or shrimp for chicken.

When children are younger than 5, parents usually decide what their kids will eat, Sturm says. For those 5 to 10 years old, the parents and kids often make the choices together.

Adapt entrees for younger guests

Fire up kids' meals


Scale down adult portions
 

Great New Hampshire Restaurants re-engineered adult selections to meet the Kids LiveWell criteria. In addition to resizing portions, the company marinated, sauced and cooked the items more healthfully. At Mama Fu’s, Clark saw that families frequently ordered lunch portions of adult dinner entrees for their children. Others modified the dishes by ordering them without certain vegetables. So Clark reshaped the kids' dishes, he suggested leaving off onions, red bell peppers and mushrooms. “Listen to what your guests are already telling you,” he says.

How Great New Hampshire Restaurants provide fun, delicious food


Make healthful dishes fun
 

Incorporate fun items into each dish, and add as much color to the plate as possible. Children base their outlook on food on appearance and initial tastes, says Jim Rogers, chief marketing officer, Tony Roma’s restaurants. Kids know what they like and what they want. Cater to their needs and wants, not yours as adults.

How Tony Roma's beefs up healthful kids' items


Get feedback

Applebee’s studied kids’ preferences through focus groups, surveys and in-restaurant testing. The result: a menu that offers a breadth of choices and healthy options that kids want to eat. At least 10 meals fit Kids LiveWell criteria.

Similarly, Arby’s conducted focus groups and quantitative research to find out what customers were looking for. During its 10-month testing process, the company discovered parents weren’t necessarily looking to count calories for their kids. Instead, they wanted a variety of wholesome options. For example, parents said they wanted more fruit, so the 3,400-unit chain added apple slices to the menu. Other additions: a salad, a turkey and cheese sandwich, and low-fat milk, juice and bottled water as default beverages.

Re-engineer your kids' menu

 

 

 

Conserve RSS Healthcare RSS Conserve RSS

▲ Back to Top

New report

Spot Ad right

We're glad you're here!®

® 2012-2017 National Restaurant Association. All rights reserved.

2055 L St. NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20036
(202) 331-5900 | (800) 424-5156