How to Create a Compelling Kids’ Menu

Whether ordering in or eating out, mealtimes are often a family affair. Creating a menu specifically designed for kids makes the entire experience much easier for all involved. Does your restaurant have kids meals that have them asking for seconds?

The best children’s menus are both kid-friendly and parent-approved, so here are five kids’ menu ideas to help you please the whole family.

5 menu items you need in your kids meals

What makes a kids meal different from a regular menu is that it’s catered towards kids’ pallets, keeps portions smaller and often comes with a side. Parents appreciate when meals are holistic, keeping in mind nutrients and ingredients. Creating kids meals with a variety of popular mains and a choice of sides keeps kids full and parents happy.

Here are five dishes kids enjoy:

  1. Mac and Cheese

The gooey combo of melted cheese and macaroni noodles is one no kid can resist, making it a staple on any kids menu. Mac and cheese is the perfect item to let your chef get creative – use fun noodle shapes, combine cheese, add protein or finish with parmesan. Including a dairy-free cheese option or a gluten-free noodle substitute can help make sure this menu item can be enjoyed by all.

Spice up this popular “safe” option with healthy sides like chopped veggies or a cup of fruit. Parents will be thankful for the extra nutrition, and including a free side will make customers feel like they’re getting a good deal.

  1. Sliders and hot dogs

You can’t go wrong with hot dogs and hamburgers, no matter the season. Make this classic barbecue unique by serving it up in kid-friendly sliders. Offer turkey burgers or veggie dogs to accommodate those with dietary restrictions.

Provide a few sauce options so that the kiddos can dip their bite-sized mains into ketchup, honey mustard or an aioli. Giving kids the power to select what sauces they want can ensure you’re serving them what they like while avoiding wasting ingredients they won’t touch.

  1. Build-your-own tacos

The best way to satisfy picky eaters is to give them options, and tacos are the perfect food choice. Let kids pick from a variety of fillings, and bring out their choices in separate bowls. Provide a few mini tortillas so that the kids can experiment with their creations. Keep sauce portions small, and try toning down the spice level for young pallets.

  1. Chicken

While this game may seem basic, the preparation options are endless – keeping all types of little eaters satisfied. Stick to the classics with chicken fingers, or get creative with dino nuggets. You can also size down your most popular adult chicken dish to give kids a chance to try it in an approachable way.

A chicken dish isn’t complete without sides. Give a variety of fun and healthy options for kids to choose from like sweet potato fries, maple roasted carrots, parmesan broccoli or zucchini tots.

  1. Customizable pizzas

Pizza is another kid-favorite that is sure to be a kids meal hit. Want to take the classic cheese pizza to the next level? Give kids different topping options and create a fun design on the pie with their chosen toppings.

Save money on ingredients and limit food waste by creating an 8-10 inch personal pizza. If you want a healthy take on this quick service classic, try serving flatbreads or whole wheat crusts. Parents will appreciate the nutritional value, and kids may not notice the difference.

How to design a kid-friendly restaurant

Including the perfect kids meal dishes is just the beginning to create a kid-friendly restaurant environment. Here are some other ingredients you need in your recipe for success:

Offer Healthy Options

In kids’ food trends, we’re seeing staple menu items such as macaroni, cheeseburgers and pizza getting phased out in favor of more health-conscious options. Opt for alternatives such as veggies, fruit and lean meat, which are sure to win parental approval. Additionally, consider offering gluten-free or dairy-free options for kids with allergies or dietary restrictions.

Keep with the Theme

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Your kids’ menu doesn’t have to stray too far from your other offerings. Offer some of your staple choices in smaller portions that appeal to younger diners. This is especially important for older children who want to act (and eat) more like adults.

Offer combos (and allow for substitutions)

Allow kids to customize their kids meals by offering combo options. For example, let kids pick out their favorite entrée and two sides from a list of options. The best combo menus make it easy for parents and children to avoid certain ingredients – like gluten or meat – to easily accommodate dietary restrictions. If combos are a bit too complicated for your menu, you can still appeal to picky eaters by allowing for easy substitutions.

Keep it Punchy

Kids can have short attention spans, especially when it comes to making decisions. Long descriptions and wordy phrases can cause them to quickly lose interest. Keep descriptions short and to the point to please parents and budding readers alike. Eating is a full sensory experience. Add fun images to make the ordering experience even easier for the little ones.

Make the food fun!

Fun food for kids is key! There are plenty of ways to bring creativity into kids’ cuisine. Here are a few fun ways to make your restaurant kid-friendly:

  • Make shapes out of fruit or faces out of veggies
  • Use kid-friendly food coloring to play with color in items like drinks or bread
  • Serve up your dishes on fun plates to encourage them to eat their meal to discover what’s underneath
  • Pack kids take-out drinks in fun cups they can keep
  • Create an interactive kids menu with games, coloring and crayons
  • Provide high chairs to make it easy for kids to dine at the table

List your kids meal on Grubhub

Kids’ menu orders have grown 40% each year since 2012, which proves that kid-friendly foods are in high demand. Restaurants that can successfully enter those with little appetite will reap big benefits in the long run.

Are your kids meals ready to go? Partner with Grubhub to get your menu on Grubhub Marketplace so customers can enjoy your food on the go. Ready to reach new customers and grow your business with Grubhub? Signup today!

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