Better Happy Meals!

One quarter of the food that children eat in a day comes from fast food and chain restaurants.  Eating out can be fast and sometimes cheap, but it is not necessarily nutritious. More than 90% of the meals found on the kids’ menus at the most popular restaurants do not hold up against national nutrition guidelines for children’s meals.

If you do eat out with your family,

Make sure your choices of where to eat out with your family are truly family-friendly by checking for balanced options on the kids’ menu. Many chain restaurants now have menus with nutritional information, including calorie counts for each dish. Take a close look at the numbers before you order for the family.  This can also be a great opportunity to teach the kids how to find a healthy option on the menu for themselves. Be on the lookout for kids’ meals that come with fruits and vegetables on the side instead of fries or bread. Often you can ask for fruits and vegetables on the side even if the option is not listed.

Or choose easy and tasty options at home.

With a little planning, you can make fun and nutritious versions of the meals on popular kids’ menus at home. All-natural, baked chicken nuggets with pineapple dipping sauce served with fresh apple slices and low-fat milk make a truly happy meal. Homemade meals like this one can save you money without losing the taste kids love. You’ll also save your children calories, plus added fat, sodium, and sugar kids’ bodies do not need. Making the switch from a routine of eating fast food to making meals at home can take some time for everyone to adjust, especially for kids. But getting them involved in preparing the meal can make children more open to enjoying new, homemade favorites.

Happy cooking – and eating!

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