For those who considered the great green movement a temporary lapse into the world of clean eating, think again.
Kale and quinoa are here to stay, and it’s a sign of the times. With childhood obesity on the rise, and Australia rating as one of the fattest countries in the world, we as the hospitality industry need to work harder at creating delicious but healthy menu options.
As well as reviewing your primary menu, you must also update your kid’s menu. Parents are becoming more diligent than ever at ensuring that their kids are eating well, and presenting a kid-friendly, green and clean menu is a major drawcard for family dining.
Join the club
You don’t have to be parent for your customers’ children, but you do need menu items they approve of. Large chains are taking this very seriously and are constantly trialling new menus to find the winning combination: food that is profitable, healthy and cravable. Food that children want to eat. (Spoiler alert: that’s not usually broccoli!)
Don’t separate the ‘delicious’ from the ‘healthy’
Creating a ‘healthy’ kids menu should not be a separate list to the standard offering. You’ll need to go back to the drawing board and make all your kid’s menu items healthy. Many fast-food brands have taken an aggressive stance on this, serving a healthy side as the default choice, and if you want fries with it, you have to ask. Fruit and water are offered as the snacks of choice, and yes, some things may have to go!
Add fun and action
Kids love a narrative behind their meal times, so don’t make healthy seem boring. Try food that can be dipped, topped or ‘played with’ to add variety. Colourful plates and eating utensils; food on skewers or items to be assembled. Small toys are inexpensive, or novelties like printable puzzles or even good old butchers paper tablecloths to draw upon! If you’re a more formal establishment, you can still serve child food in a way that’s lively, not sombre.
Train up your staff
Make sure you pass on clear messaging to your staff, not just about the new healthy menu, but WHY you’ve taken fries off centre stage. Find relevant articles and share them on the noticeboard. And what are they eating — is it health or junk? Staff meals are usually heavy on starch and cheap ingredients — do they need an upgrade too?
Don’t be afraid to promote your hard work
The stories that arouse real interest show a demonstrable shift in kid’s eating habits. Share some simple POS numbers e.g. 12 months ago 72% of our children’s meals had fries with them, not it’s only 24%. For example, “Our most popular dish used to be Nuggets & Chips, but now 2 out of 3 children choose the Kid’s Grilled Chicken Burger. We are giving away more than 500 apples a week to children who dine with us.” Use these sell points across your social media, and even get in touch with your local media.
Don’t be afraid to try new things, and experiment with your menu. Kids are far more honest than their adult counterparts, so you will know right away if they’re unimpressed! Seek out inspiration from kid’s food blogs online, as well as sites such as Pinterest. Fun, bright, and healthy food doesn’t have to be boring!
It is more important than ever for you to stay ahead of the curve with hospitality trends. If you want to remain competitive as a family venue, your kid’s menu must be healthy AND delicious.
Healthy doesn’t have to equal boring, so have fun, and if all else fails – ask the parents what they think! If they don’t have tricks to sneak veggies into a dinner meal, no one does!
These are only the basics when it comes to improving your kids menu become a Profitable Hospitality member by viewing our subscription options here, and unlock everything you need to know about improving your menu offering.