Today’s restaurant customer is savvy, environmentally aware and healthy – and those restaurants that provide choices that meet their lifestyles are thriving. Looking at the National Restaurant Association Top 10 Trends (2014 Culinary Forecast) every item on the list revolves around more conscious consumer decisions, from locally sourced foods to nutrition.
Two of the top 10 trends forecasted by the NRA center around more healthful options for kids’ meals. It’s a big deal to customers right now and those restaurants that can capitalize on the “mom vote” will win. If parents want it for themselves, they want it for their kids even more. It’s time to take a look at your existing kids’ menu and reevaluate the chicken nuggets and French fries so that you can appeal to this growing need in the marketplace.
5 Easy Ways To Update Your Kids’ Menu and Make Parents Happy:
1. Talk Turkey
Swapping out your pork sausage for leaner turkey versions, or given an option for a turkey burger or hotdog instead of beef will instantly lighten the choices, and the mood.
2. Get Cheesey
Kids love cheese, kids love mac ‘n cheese, but moms don’t like heavy creamy dishes or fake bright orange offerings for their wee ones. Consider a recipe that uses lighter, natural cheeses, like mozzarella, without the fake neon stuff.
3. Go Natural
If mom and dad are looking for all-natural, organic, local, healthy choices for themselves, as the NRA Trends indicate, they are likely even more concerned about their kids’ food. Chicken tenders made from real organic chicken, burgers made from grass-fed local beef, and antibiotic free dairy should be on both menus.
4. No Fry Zone
Baked chicken tenders can be just as flavorful and crispy as their fried counterparts – kids won’t know the difference, but mom will. Also, alternative, fresh side options like fruits, veggies and whole grains should always be provided. Let them decide if they want the fries, but let it be a choice.
5. Hide the Sides
True, most kids will choose fries over steamed broccoli – but that doesn’t mean parents can’t get it in there. Burgers with micro-chopped veggies incorporated into the meat, or quesadillas that include meat plus veggies cut small are just as tasty to the little ones – they won’t even know they are eating their veggies. But mom and dad will.
When you look at healthy trends going into 2014, don’t stop at your main menu – this is a great time to reevaluate your kids’ options. And keep it fun – a turkey hotdog cut to resemble an octopus and a sides of fruit skewered and served as “kabobs” are not only healthy but also fun for the kids, making it a winning choice for parents.