According to MCA’s Eating out in the UK Report 2018, 15.5% of total eating out visits involve children, whilst 18.4% of pub restaurant visits involve children – the largest increase of any channel.
More than half (52%) of families are influenced by their children when deciding where to eat out – and 62% of monthly pub visitors have a child 0-18 (CGA consumer panel 2017).
So it’s important to keep the kids happy with taste and appearance, and to keep the parents happy knowing they’re providing their family with quality, nutritious food.
There are two schools of thought whenit comes to kids’ menus, according to thefoodpeople. First, some restaurants are happy to serve smaller portions of dishes from the adult menu, particularly where the food isn’t too spicy or complicated.
“On the other hand, bespoke children’s menus offer a simple flavour profile but tailored to kids with engaging elements to stimulate interest beyond crayons and puzzles,” says thefoodpeople’s Menuwatching report on kids’ menus.
Getting the Balance Right
Healthier meal options are a great way to go, but making sure the food is tasty, and something that the child will actually eat, really matters.
“Healthy food left on a plate helps no one,” says Emma Brown MSc (Human Nutrition) for calorie experts, Nutracheck. “Making meals inherently healthier by including more veggies, more fibre, less salt and sugar is a good way to ensure better quality options are available – and if meals are prepared in the right way and seasoned, kids probably won’t notice a difference in taste or appeal.”
She continues: “Eating out with kids is a great way for them to try new flavours, and have new experiences. Whilst some children continue to want traditional There are two schools of thought when it comes to kids’ menus, according to thefoodpeople. First, some restaurants are happy to serve smaller portions of dishes from the adult menu, particularly where the food isn’t too spicy or complicated.“On the other hand, bespoke children’s menus offer a simple flavour profile but tailored to kids with engaging elements to stimulate interest beyond crayons and puzzles,” says thefoodpeople’s Menuwatching report on kids’ menus. ‘kid friendly’ dishes, others are looking for healthier and more exotic options. The choices available should be age dependent, as tastes, appetites and nutritional needs vary from a toddler to a teen. For children to feel like they are ‘grown up’ when they go out to eat, offering smaller portions of the usual menu is a great way to introduce new tastes to kids. There is no reason why children can’t have the tastes and flavours that we
enjoy as adults – sticking to chicken nuggets and chips is not essential!”
Action On Salt
A new nationwide product survey by Action on Salt has exposed the high amounts of salt found in children’s Out of Home (OOH) meals, which demonstrates dismal progress made by the sector following a similar survey carried out in 2015.
Action on Salt is now calling for urgent high salt warning labels on children’s menu dishes with more than 1.8g of salt per serve and follow New York City’s example which alerts consumers to high salt meals to help families and parents find healthier options.
1- Of-5 A Day Pizza
In a foodservice first, Dr Oetker Professional has unveiled a new Deep Dish Cheese and Tomato Pizza that counts as one of your five a day.
Fully loaded, the new lighter deep dish has more tasty tomato sauce, a two-cheese blend of reduced saturated fat cheddar and mozzarella, as well as diced tomato under the cheese – for a vegetable boost.
Richard Cooper, senior brand manager, Dr Oetker Professional, commented:
“Families are eating out more and more and parents are asking for better options their children will want to eat and most importantly enjoy. Unlike ready made dishes, our new Deep Dish 1-of-5 a Day Pizza is low in sugar, fat and a source of protein. That’s a very strong message for family-focused operators to put on their menus and show customers – especially parents, their children can still have a portion of vegetables even when they’re treating them.”
Go Easy on Spices
Spicy food and globally inspired flavours are a mainstay of contemporary British cuisine. However, while most children now experience a wider variety of foods than their predecessors 20 years ago, not all are used to intense or hot flavours. Ben Bartlett, brand ambassador for Lion Sauces, says: “Children have more tastebuds than adults; just a little heat in a dish goes a long way. Introduce bold flavours gently, as dips or a dollop on the side of a plate, so the young diner can choose how much or how little to use. Keep curries and chilli con carne mildly spiced, with a cooling sour cream and chive dressing or yogurt and mint on the side.”
Soup-er Ideas for Schools
According to the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, almost one in five children are overweight or obese when they start primary school – a figure which rises to one in three when they start secondary school. By 2020 it’s estimated that half of all children will be overweight or obese, meaning pressure is on the education sector to review all elements of health and well-being of students.
One In Three Families Eat out at Least Once a Week
“Whether you’re working in a school or catering for children in an out-of-home setting, ensuring your children’s meals are healthy and nutritionally balanced is an important consideration,” says Fergus Martin, executive development chef at Major International. “However, with children travelling more nowadays, it’s also important to keep meals interesting and in line with the global foods they may encounter in the home. Creating authentic but healthy alternatives to these foods is made simpler by products like the Major Mari Bases, which meet FSA salt guidelines when used as recommended and can be used to add a hit of flavour to your dishes whilst reducing their salt content. For example, if you’re creating a stir-fry, adding the Major Oriental or Piri Piri Mari Bases will give you a complete, child-friendly meal without the need for other ingredients that may be high in salt.”
Robin Dudley, business development chef at Essential Cuisine, recommends making warming soups as a delicious way of getting goodness into kids, and has created this easy- to- prepare one pot chicken broth.
Chipping away at kids’ menus
When it comes to pleasing young appetites, fries and potato products are sure-fire favourites. Pair up exciting varieties of fries and dippers with healthy, colourful dips and vegetables.
How about an avocado or acai dip? Or try a broccoli and pesto dip, or a pumpkin and hummus combo – all those nutrients blended to a smooth creamy dip. Andrea Deutschmanek, Lamb Weston’s country marketing manager, says: “There are great ways to get kids eating healthy, colourful vegetables and dips – just serve up Rustic or Chunky Fries or Dippers and Potato Puffs. Capture their imagination with exciting, flavourful combos and dress up menu cards with fun characters and heroes that children will love.”
Street Food For Schools
Staying up to date with the latest flavour trends pupils are enjoying on the high street is an important factor for all school caterers. With the UK street food market now estimated to be worth over £1.2billion, incorporating these tastes into dishes will enable school caterers to enhance their menus. Annette Coggins, head of foodservice, Tilda UK, unveils the top three street food trends for school caterers we expect to see grow in 2019:
- New Wave Mexican Burritos, enchiladas and tacos may be classic Mexican dishes, but this trend will see them reimagined in exciting new ways. Rather than trusted favourites of fajitas and chilli, this is the time to experiment with a host of authentic Mexican ingredients including lime, fish, coriander and beans to create a new wave of tortilla, tostada and nacho dishes pupils will enjoy.
- West African dishes Tipped as the next big thing for 2019, West African cuisine is set to enhance menus with a host of exciting flavours. From Nigerian jollof rice to Gambian chicken yassa, many of the traditional dishes are one-pot wonders, lending themselves perfectly to school catering.
- Indian street food Taking inspiration from the street vendors across Asia, this trend is rapidly evolving the Indian food market past traditional curries with a burst of flavours in ways we have never seen them before.
Whats Trending in Out of Home Eating for Kid?
- Smaller adult portions – plating food the same as you give to adults makes kids feel important and join in with the connectivity of the meal
- Provenance and quality
- World eating – Open up young minds to a wide array of flavours from around the world
- Spotlight Americana
- DIY Dishes – the best way to engage children with food is to let them make it themselves
- Foodie experiences – child-focused events provide a novel dining format to interact with food they might not normally eat
- Mini gourmand – try Multi-course tasting menus to expose kids to the gourmet side of food
- Juice- mini mocktails provide a grown up feel – and a healthy dose of vitamins
- Comfort puddings – simple classics are the key to success with children’s dessert menus