These days, it can seem like parents’ schedules are so busy that eating at home is impossible. Though we may try our best to cook nutritious and budget-friendly family meals at home, sometimes, life gets in the way of life.
You’re not alone. It’s estimated that roughly 275 million people visit at least one restaurant every year.When you have young kids, finding a place to eat out can feel like even more of a nightmare than cooking. If you’re running errands, visiting relatives, or going on vacation, you might be too far from home when mealtime rolls around. You don’t want to sit your kids down with yet another happy meal, but all the other more nutritious restaurants in the area seem to have martinis and kale salads and other options that just won’t work for kids.
If you’re on the go with the kids in tow, use the following four tips for finding an easy, healthy, and kid-friendly meal.
- Download some Apps
With Google always ready and waiting in our pockets, many of us don’t bother to use other apps for finding local restaurants. However, Google features don’t necessarily meet the needs of a parent frantically scrolling for options as they sit in a parking spot with a child squalling in the backseat for sustenance. Save time by trying out a few travel-specific apps. Trekaroo and Roadtrippers are both great for finding kid-friendly attractions quickly, and Foodspotting lets you search for places to eat by specific meals, like “chicken tenders.”
- Plan Ahead
To avoid the last-minute goose chase when finding a place to eat, try looking for places before you even leave the house. If you’re going on vacation or traveling somewhere unfamiliar, knowing the names and locations of a few nearby kid-friendly choices will save stress once you’re there.
- Know Kid-Friendly Code Words
Sometimes, a restaurant won’t overtly label itself as kid-friendly or family-friendly in advertisements or websites. However, there are other qualities that make some spots good for dining with kids. If a place offers quick service, a variety of menu options, and a not-too-quiet an atmosphere, it’s probably good for kids. Also look for phrases like “outdoor seating,” “comfort food,” “busy,” and “local favorite.”
- Know Your Kid
Finally, knowing what your child likes and can handle is a good start for finding appropriate restaurants. Work on manners and explore new tastes regularly at your own table, and you might be surprised how well your kiddos behave when trying out new cuisines at a restaurant. We all know sometimes children’s cooperation is just not an option, so have fallback chain favorites for meltdown days. If your kid will always eat a turkey sub, you’ll know exactly what to type into your GPS next time you’re facing a tantrum on the town.
There are more than one million restaurants employing about 14.7 million people in the United States. With so many options available, vacation, road trips, and running errands don’t have to be a mealtime disaster. By following these tips for finding the right restaurant, you can help keep your kids fed and your hair in your head, no matter where you end up for dinner.