Your restaurant might be perfectly suited to adults in search of a great meal – but is your menu bringing in parents and their kids? As your target demographic gets older, it’s important to give them more and more reasons to bring their families to your business.
If your restaurant is a comfortable place for diners of all ages to get a reasonably healthy meal, they’re more likely to become loyal customers. As students head back to school, this month is a good time to look at your menu and make sure you’re offering foods kids love, that parents will love you for serving.
The Fast (Food) and the Furious (Parents)
Fast-food kids’ menus aren’t necessarily healthy at all. They’re often jam-packed with sugar, trans fats, and other ingredients guests continue to cut back on. Kids’ menus used to showcase adorably packaged junk food that cause energy to spike and dip throughout the day. Despite overhauling menu options, feeding kids fast food is still often an unhealthy choice.
Restaurants to the Rescue
Fast casual and full-service restaurants have changed course in recent years, attempting to feed kids good food that tastes great while still offering healthy nutrients for developing brains.
Since 2011, the National Restaurant Association has implemented the Kids LiveWell program, which includes 150 chains with 42,000 locations. The goal of the program was to offer at least one healthy entree and one healthy side on children’s menus.
Take a look at your own menu. Does it have options that will appeal to younger diners? And, if so, are those options healthy ones? By taking a closer look at the foods and drinks that kids already love, you can easily revitalize your kids’ menu to offer the younger generation meals that are both trending and tasty.
Don’t overthink it: kids love purple foods, like acai bowls, ube, and increasingly ubiquitous purple veggies. Garden and kitchen supplier Heather Cole has seen a 300% spike for purple produce in recent years. Some of the reasoning behind this explosion is the relative ease of getting kids to eat their purple veggies. Cole says, “It’s about what is attractive to eat as well. If you are trying to get kids to eat cauliflower, what are you going to have more luck with – a white soggy lump or a fresh purple thing?”
Many of these purple ingredients allow restaurants to make smoothies, soups, and breads that are more nutrient-rich, while still looking whimsical and fun. Vibrant greens and oranges are also finding favor and adding flavor to kids’ menus across the nation.
Don’t Go Against the Grain
The USDA still recommends whole grains as a centerpiece of a young child’s diet. The issue here is that many restaurants are used to serving bleached grains – which are stripped of many of their nutrients. Whole grains have come a long way since your parents forced them on you, an incredible selection of grains from around the world like quinoa, couscous, and brown rice are surging in popularity and replacing the starchy staples of the past decade.
Oatmeal is another prized method to get kids eating whole grains, while still offering them the ability to customize their breakfasts with berries, yogurt, and other delicious toppings. Breakfast sandwiches with whole grain breads and english muffins are fun for kids, and relatively easy for your restaurant to make.
Egging Them On
Eggs, a classic breakfast food, have had an on-again, off-again love affair with American consumers for the past 50 years. As science continues to debate the merits or harm of cholesterol, eggs once again are on the sunny side of public opinion. Kids with a breakfast routine tend to reach their nutrient intakes more regularly, which makes breakfast an important meal for any family-friendly restaurant. Your young guests can use the protein and healthy fats contained in eggs to get the energy they need first thing in the day.
Eggs can also be easily mixed into salads, fried rice, and other dishes, so that kids will be healthy without even knowing it! Quiches are another increasingly popular way to pack eggs with an assortment of veggies, meats, and cheeses while still offering an excellent amount of protein.
Giving kids more options means giving parents more reasons to stop into your restaurant. By focusing on healthy ingredients, breakfasts, and other hot-button trends, you can give both parents and kids food for thought.