The Children's Menu: Enabling Picky Eaters for Life?

kids menu board
Flickr photo by edkohler
In our house, we've always been an "eat what's been made for you" family. No kids' menu available.

But I have to say we've been slipping since my 3-year-old become so, well, vocal at the dinner table. While we won't make him a separate meal, I have been known to say, "Just go grab a yogurt" (and then silently to myself: "... so the rest of us can eat in peace!").

Today's piece "Looking Past the Children’s Menu" in the NYT, though, reminds me of the disservice I'm doing for my kids.


“The table is very important,” says Nicola Marzovilla, a restaurant owner in NYC. “It’s about nutrition, it’s about family; you go right down the line. And the children’s menu is about the opposite -- it’s about making it quick, making it easy, and moving on.” Same thinking goes for meals at home for Mr. Marzolvilla and his wife Astrid.

In restaurants, when it comes to feeding my boys, 7 and 3, I'm always more concerned with the quantity and price when ordering for them off the regular menu. It's rare that I find myself scouring for the chicken nugget offerings (in fact, I hate when a perfectly nice restaurant has crappy kid menu offerings -- like, ugh, boxed mac and cheese), but I hate to waste food and money on dining out with kids who don't eat a whole lot. Heck, I can barely eat the portion sizes in most restaurants.

So it's nice to know that along with Mr. Marzovilla's big opinions about kids' menus being the "death of civilization," he's also open to, say, serving kids an appetizer portion of pasta so their parents don't have to pay full price.

As a dad, Marzovilla feels it's his duty to teach his kids to eat well and to try many things and that this practice will be of service to them throughout their lives. “I’m their parent, I’m not their best friend,” Mr. Marzovilla says. “I have a duty to mold and teach.”

I wholeheartedly agree, which is why serving unhealthy school lunches in cafeterias seriously chaps my hide. It's sending the wrong message from the very people who are supposed to care about the kids' well being.

On the other hand, I also know what it feels like not to want to fight ... every ... single ... night ... at the dinner table. So we'll be sticking to our "no kids' menu" policy at home; however, I can't promise I won't be shoving yogurt and cheese sticks at the loudest and most whiny mouth at the table in order to enjoy a peaceful family meal from time to time. Sorry folks, sometimes that's all I want.

What's your kids' menu policy at home? In restaurants?


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