The Canadian Lifestyles 2015 (Mintel) report found that despite Canadians cutting back on spending related to leisure, entertainment and recreation, 48% of consumers still spend the same amount on dining out. Not surprisingly, Canadian couples with children reported the highest average spending on food purchased from restaurants. Taken together, Canadian families trying to reduce annual spending yet spending more on dining out than singles means that developing an exciting, on-trend kids’ menu can be your restaurant’s secret weapon.
It’s important to note that Canadians are more interested than ever in healthy eating. Health-conscious and innovative kids’ menu offerings that please parents and the little ones will not only entice families, but also help secure return visits. Approach your kids’ menu with the same vim and vigor as your regular menu. Chicken fingers and pasta with tomato sauce are conventional offerings, but don’t help to differentiate you from competitors. Kids want to play with their food and let their imaginations soar. Kids also look to their parents’ plates and want what they’re having, making a level of sophistication key.
Below are four simple ways to elevate your kids’ menu and infuse it with some serious nutrition and creativity:
- Serve up fire-roasted tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwich “sticks” for dipping. Re-imagining this familiar flavour pairing this way makes it accessible yet fun and interactive. Enhance health perceptions among parents by using whole grain bread.
- It’s tough to find a child who doesn’t love a good burger. Switch up the protein to make it interesting yet still nutritious – chicken, turkey or vegetarian patties are a good place to start. Let kids put the lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle on their burger by placing it on the side of their plate, along with small cups of house-made ketchup and relish. Kids will be wowed by the vibrant colours on their plate and love the grown up feel of putting their meal together themselves, their way. Round out the meal by serving it with an iced tea and side salad or sweet potato fries.
- All day kids’ breakfast is a fun and simple way to use ingredients your kitchen likely already has on hand – bread, eggs, bacon and tomatoes. Let the little ones customize their meal by offering a choice of white, whole wheat or rye bread, or an English muffin. Bonus points for serving their eggs their way! Pump up the health factor by pairing it with a smoothie secretly packed with healthy ingredients like spinach or raw cacao powder, or a side of fruit.
- Kids love snacking and playing with their food. Try a mini sampler plate that lets them explore a variety of flavours without cutlery. Think bruschetta, crudités with a house-made tzatziki or hummus, meat and cheese roll-ups and salad on a skewer!
Taking an informed yet out-of-the-box approach to your kids’ menu is one sure way to attract parents’ attention. Canadian families seek to reduce spending yet still spend on dining out, making revitalizing your kids’ menu with healthy and engaging offerings is one sure way to convey value to parents.