Today’s kids embracing
adventurous ethnic eating!
As adult American consumers go, their kids are sure to follow. This is especially true with ever-evolving food tastes. While operators adapt their menus to satisfy guests’ desire for more ethnically inspired meals, the trend also includes kid-friendly versions to cater to the entire family.
Consider that almost half of millennials are parents and that among parents living with children ages 12 and under, millennials are more than twice as likely than other generations to say that they would visit restaurants more often if they offered sophisticated menus. In addition, millennials are heavily engaged in the all-natural movement and want the same for their children. Therefore, menus on many restaurants have more kids menu options that are ethnically inspired, down-sized portions of adult menu items, and are more likely to be natural/organic.
The members of this youngest generation (typically born after 2000) are the most diverse in U.S. history and are open to a broader range of cuisines given their exposure to international flavors from a young age at home and in restaurants; 36% of U.S. parents of children under 18 say their kids enjoy international food.
General Menuing for Today’s Kids
In the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, it was pretty easy to figure out a way to get kids interested. It mostly came down to burgers, pizza, hot dogs, chicken nuggets and french fries. It was the typical high-calorie, high-fat food that still constitutes the core of kids menus at restaurants nationwide.
But as the American palate began to get a bit more adventurous, kid-friendly dining began to evolve. Below are tips for developing a menu that appeals to kids today.
We Asked the Experts
Who better to judge what kids like than kids themselves? Here is a sampling from our panel of culinary kids in response to what they like most in terms of globally influenced meals.
“My favorite ethnic food is orange chicken with fried rice. My school also serves quesadillas and build-your-own pizzas.” – Christina, age 11
“I like spaghetti and meatballs!” – Rosie, age 6
“I love going to Italian restaurants because pasta is my favorite. At school, I love the nachos; the nachos are everyone’s favorite!” – Zuzanna, age 12
“When you go to a Mexican restaurant, I don’t under stand why they have a burger on the kids menu. What’s the point of going to a Mexican restaurant if you’re just going to eat normal American food?” – Ava, age 11
Recipe Inspiration for Your KIDS MENU
Adding an ethnic influence to kids menus doesn’t have to mean drastic changes that could actually intimidate kids rather than attract them. Following are some simple suggestions for “ethnicizing” your menu just enough to create exciting variations of basic kids foods:
Current Global Menu Items for Kids
Chipotle’s Kids Menu: Allows kids to pick a protein (chicken, steak, carne asada, carnitas, sofritas, or guacamole), rice, beans, toppings, side and a small drink.
Big Bowl Kids Menu: The restaurant gives children a smaller-sized portion of the adult’s menu with dishes like grilled chicken satay, teriyaki chicken fried rice, sesame chicken and a create-your-own stir fry.