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What's a children menu?

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  • What's a children menu?

    I was wondering where the concept of children menu came from. I first time came across it in the US. In most of Asia or Eastern Europe or Africa that concept doesn't exist. Why wouldn't children be offered liver for example? Why kids are not offered the same food as adults? I find it strange. Children menus are usually nutritionally poor. Why is this allowed and seen by most as normal?

  • #2
    Because no kid wants to eat liver? Kids meals are usually smaller and much more basic to cater to them. It would generally be considered a waste spending a $30 on a gourmet meal they probably won't enjoy. When I was a kid, eating out was a treat and adult meals didn't interest me, all I wanted was chicken nuggets with fries and sauce. I was always being encouraged to choose something more exotic but I guess i just had pretty bland taste buds like most kids. That being said kids can still choose the adult meals if they want.


    • #3
      It came about because people coddle and foster picky eating habits in children, and if the kids are sedated, then the parents are happy, right? "Children's Menus" in restaurants invariably offer some "smaller portions" of mac n' cheese, chicken nuggets/fingers, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches, personal pizzas- basically any variation of wheat and cheese. Oh, and they usually get a "prize toy," so they can make it out of the house and through the meal in public without throwing a tantrum.


      • #4
        I loved liver as a kid. Not all children demand bland foods--we train their palates that way because we think they only eat bland things. I like the method my mother used of having us take small tastes of foods regularly and not preparing special "kid food" separately from what adults ate, and I think this is why I am more adventurous with food than many people my age. I'm astonished at the number of people I've met who prepare two separate meals, one for the adults and one for children, and then are basically short-order cooks when their kids demand something else.

        I can understand smaller portions for children, but the chicken fingers or grilled cheese with fries is the ubiquitous kids' menu, and it's awful.
        “If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” --Audre Lorde

        Owly's Journal


        • #5
          Why doesn't a kid want to eat liver? Why can't they enjoy it? In other parts of the world there is no concept of chicken nuggets with fries and sauce. One thing is cooked for the whole family. I wonder if having this concept of kid's menu that usually has presumed "foods" that kids like a bad idea in terms of their understanding what food is as well as their palate is shaped based on the junk food served on kid's menu.


          • #6
            I don't understand why kids shouldn't like interesting foods. Obviously, many kids don't...

            As a small child, I loved the sharpest cheddars and odd things like liver sausage.

            Over time, I was taught that I should enjoy orange mac and cheese from a box and Wonder Bread. All that did was make me fat and it took me half my life to realize that the sharp cheddar and liver sausage was what I should be eating.


            • #7
              Hell, yes, it is a bad idea. Just for the record, I have 4 of my own, and this American has never allowed mine to eat from the kid's menu. I don't allow the servers to bring it to the table. If it is a part of the adult menu, then they luck out and get to SEE it, but they don't get to ORDER from it.

              Hrmph. I hate the things. Kids should be trained in the love of good food just like they are trained in the love of good books - from the very first.

              My personally-experienced favorite and worst example of all time: entire extended family is on the Disney cruise ship together. Disney has theme restaurants on the ship for dinner (as well as pre-scheduled seating times and shifts so all passengers can experience all 3 theme restaurants before the cruise is over), and all the restaurants have enough selection that you could actually eat well - lots of meat, fish, potatoes, roasted veg, fruit, poultry, tons of stuff. Sister-in-law (whom I otherwise love) lets her 3 kids eat hot dogs and hamburgers and chicken nuggets and HFCS applesauce and sugary soda... FOR THE ENTIRE CRUISE. I nearly caused a horrific scene at the table when I steadfastly refused to serve that crap on an expensive cruise the in-laws had paid for, to my kids. They ordered from the adult menu, and today they are wonderful eating companions at restaurants. And the niece/nephews still eat the same crap.
              I have a mantra that I have spouted for years... "If I eat right, I feel right. If I feel right, I exercise right. If I exercise right, I think right. If I think right, I eat right..." Phil-SC


              • #8
                Well done Crabbcakes !


                • #9
                  Amen to this! We've never ordered off of the kid's menus, mainly because we have been GFCF for the past 5+ years (kids are 6 and 7)...those menus only OFFER gluten and dairy options! It is unbelievable. And once kids are trained to know that's what they can get---then then whine and beg and demand it. I'll order something creative off of the reg. menu for my kids---chicken, fish fillet with some veggies, etc. It's nice that this is the way they have ALWAYS eaten, because they accept it!
                  Check out my blog on nature and nurture!


                  • #10
                    Yeah, it's because many parents think that's what kids eat. I don't recall ever seeing a kids menu as a child, although we rarely went out to dinner unless we were on vacation. One vacation I clearly remember eating (more like inhaling) stuffed crab in S. Carolina. Another time some liver dish in a Chinese restaurant. We grew up eating what we were served or not eating, so we never expected special kids meals.
                    Buy house, Demolish house, Build house.


                    • #11
                      My wife and I have worked hard to feed our 2-year-old daughter whole food, to keep sugar and processed crap out of the house. We try and do dinner together as a family every night (not always possible), and we always try to give her the same meal - or close to it - that we are eating.

                      I don't know what other kids eat/don't eat, but our daughter loves mushrooms, onions, peppers, carrots, peas, broccoli, lima beans, berries, banana, avocado, sweet potato, beef, chicken, turkey, shrimp, and eggs. She does some white rice (and loves going out for sushi). She still does some dairy - whole milk and high-fat cottage cheese and hard cheese, but we try to keep that in check. She also drinks water, eats some raisins and nuts for snacks, and, in our one concession to making our lives a little easier, organic, no-sugar-added applesauce.

                      We don't do snack crackers, cookies, cereal, pasta, cakes, juice of any kind, or other processed foods.

                      She seems to be thriving, is happy and healthy, and in our opinion and good and adventurous eater. Nothing has made us chuckle more than watching her eat about a dozen pearl onions cooked in butter like they were popcorn.

                      I think it really starts and ends with the parents. If you, as the parents, are eating those things, and that's what's in the house, then that is what the kid eats, and what the kid assumes is "food." I know we won't be able to keep all the other stuff at bay for ever, but I feel like every month we can hang on without it in our lives, the better off she'll be.
                      “If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea” -- Antoine de Saint-Exupery


                      • #12
                        I think it's a bit of a holdover from earlier times in our culture. Americans ate very very bland food. You can still see older people go to foreign countries and get all huffy about garlic and spices in the food. It was believed that children shouldn't eat spicy food and shouldn't even be offered it until they were old enough to tolerate it. Nowadays there are so many more people living here originally from Asia and Latin America it seems laughable. Now the kid's menu has morphed into a pacifying device. It comes with crayons and toys. It features kiddie junk food. Parents seem incapable of teaching children manners anymore so they resort to pacification. Those kids grow up to be adult babies who can only eat yogurt and fruit smoothies on their Primal diets which they've had to take to due to obesity and diabetes. Ok, that last part maybe isn't true.
                        Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Rosencrantz1 View Post
                          I think it really starts and ends with the parents. If you, as the parents, are eating those things, and that's what's in the house, then that is what the kid eats, and what the kid assumes is "food." I know we won't be able to keep all the other stuff at bay for ever, but I feel like every month we can hang on without it in our lives, the better off she'll be.
                          I can't even count how many people I've seen who are trying to lose weight but still keep cookies and chips and other junk in the house because "I have small children! I have to have these foods in the house!". I also got a lecture from my diabetic grandmother that once I have children I am going to have to learn to bake cookies and cakes and such because that's what kids eat. I'm not sure where this idea that children MUST eat junky crap came from, but it seems that's what most people think children's food should be.


                          • #14
                            We make one meal for the family at home and my children have no problem gobbling it up. We do order off the kids' menu at restaurants though because it is a smaller size. Now that I think of it, though, we should probably just start ordering the two of them an adult meal and have it split between them. DS (2) gets mad if DD (4) has something different from him anyway. Something to think about for the rare times we go out to restaurants.

                            One really weird restaurant to me offered healthy sides for the kids (fruit/yogurt) but charged adults more to exchange fries for fruit. We will never go back there as it was crazy expensive and teensy portion sizes on top of that.


                            • #15
                              It depends. In the better restaurants, the children's menu has items from the regular menu, but in smaller portions (and lower cost). In chain-type restaurants, the children's menu contains garbage, which is what the adults are often eating as well.

                              Since I was raised by parents who were very militant about only eating "healthy" food (by 70's standards, they were far off CW), I take an 80/20 approach with our young children. I don't want them to end up with "food issues" the way I did. Since I cook nearly every night and they eat mostly Primal, I know they're developing a taste for good food (which as Crabcakes notes is really the key). If they want to eat junky stuff from time to time, that's fine with me as long as it's one meal or a snack.

                              I think for some kids, my 80/20 rule would create a lot of whining/begging for junk, but that's not the case for our kids - they know that will never work.

                              Teach: my boys split a salmon dinner the other night - splitting works great. We added some steamed veg, corn and they went to town and were stuffed.
                              Last edited by Daisynyc; 07-14-2012, 10:19 AM.