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Ordering Beyond the Kid’s Menu

The Whole Foods Salad Bar, the King of Salad Bars, give moms and kids lots of choices for even the pickiest eaters.
The Whole Foods Salad Bar, also known as the King of Salad Bars, give moms and kids lots of choices for even the pickiest eaters. Image courtesy of Whole Foods Reno.

A few weeks ago we had lunch with some friends who were in town for a Wolfpack game with their four- and five-year-old girls. As we looked at the menu and figured out drink orders, the kids got children’s menu coloring sheets and crayons.

Side note, I love coloring and wish more restaurants had special menu coloring sheets for adults. A glass of Malbec and a few crayons would be the perfect way to unwind before the entrée gets to the table.

I digress, back to lunch. The mom at the table did a quick read of the girl’s menus and sighed, “children’s menus are all about macaroni and cheese with lots of chicken fingers, I wish they focused on healthier foods for the kids.”

Now, I love chicken fingers and mac and cheese. I am actually thinking about the chicken fingers at Bully’s right now, with a side of fries, and how it is both a shame and a blessing that I don’t live closer to Bully’s and that they don’t deliver. If they do deliver, please don’t tell me. Back to lunch, that mom’s lament got me thinking, what do the Reno Moms’ order for the kids when they go out and where are their favorite places for a kid friendly and healthy meal.

I know eating out with the kids can be a dance as moms and dads work to keep the wiggles to a minimum and the kids entertained all while trying to get them fed before a meltdown looms and everything is becomes a to-go order.

So here is a roundup from a discussion the Reno Moms Blog Contributors had on some places in Reno with kid-friendly choices that you might want to check out as well as some tips for eating out with your kids:

Q'Doba has tons of fresh choices, with black bean burritos on whole wheat tortillas as just one of their healthy options.
Qdoba has tons of fresh choices, with black bean burritos on whole wheat tortillas as just one of their healthy options. Image courtesy of Qdoba.

Whole Foods is my go-to fast food. The kids love brown rice California Rolls, soups and, of course, the Mac and Cheese. The kids also love sushi at Sushi Moto, Thai Lotus’ honey chicken with broccoli and Genghis Grill where they can choose their own protein, carb, veggie and sauce, then watch it being cooked. Qdoba also has great black bean burritos on whole wheat tortillas.”

“For burgers, we love Five Guys. They use fresh beef, hand form the burgers, hand cut their fries and fry them in peanut oil. If you’re going to go for fast food, it should at least be REAL food! Interesting tidbit: Five Guys restaurants don’t have freezers — just “coolers.”

“Chinese food, while not always super healthy, is a decent alternative with the perfectly cooked broccoli and carrots. The fried rice also almost always has some protein. My son loves Chinese shrimp dishes and sweet and sour soup. In South Reno, we go to Jazmine and recently tried the Asian Paradise place near Lamppost Pizza in Damonte Ranch, which surprisingly had great fusion choices. We loved the lettuce chicken wraps there.”

Laughing Planet all the way with fun options that appeal to kids but super healthy, natural and organic. Cafe Deluxe is good too. Pho is always a good healthier option too pending you don’t have sodium issues. I always get the veggie with tofu or seafood. Even Bully’s has items marked on its menu that are the healthy choices – wraps, salads, etc.” Note from Shelle – I do realize Bully’s has healthy options, I just can’t tear myself away from the siren call of the chicken fingers.

“We love to do Thai at Bangkok Cuisine, my girl loves the chicken satay appetizer.”

“I’d vote for Laughing Planet, but we also love Sup. My daughter loves their chicken noodle soup – all fresh and healthy ingredients – plus a side salad and an oatmeal cookie.”

“I love that the Reno moms are taking their kids to sushi, Thai and pho! And, I will be stopping my Thai Lotus and Asian Paradise soon. Some other options for moms are Walden’s, CoffeeBar and Hi Point Coffee and Café. They have some easy and fast breakfast and lunch options that work great for kids and adults. Plus there is room to spread out and color or work on an activity book while waiting.“

Sup has a line up of fresh made soups and sandwiches, my favorite choice is their tuna melt!
Sup has a line up of fresh made soups and sandwiches, my favorite choice is their tuna melt. But don’t miss the Tomato Bisque and Chicken Noodle soups. Image courtesy of Sup.

The moms also had some ordering advice for the kids: “I once heard a nutritionist say that a mistake parents make is assuming that their kids have to order from the kid’s menu. She said there’s no reason why kids can’t order an adult entrée that is healthier and bring the rest home. That comment changed the way I thought about eating out with me kids.”

“I let my kids get whatever entrée they want, but when I comes to sides it’s always a fruit or veggie and water or watered down juice to drink.”

I know eating out with the kids can be a dance as moms and dads work to keep the wiggles to a minimum and the kids entertained all while trying to get them fed before a meltdown looms and everything is becomes a to-go order. Sometimes veggie sushi works, sometimes it is easier to order mac & cheese and leave the healthy options for home. We all get it and have all been there. As long as you get the kids to eat something, you are doing a great job. Please note not all of these choices come with a side order of crayons, but many do.

Where are your favorite places to take the kids to eat in Reno and Sparks? And, how do you focus the kids on healthier menu options when you are eating out?

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About Shelle Murach

Shelle Murach
Shelle Murach has been an Aunt since 1985. She specializes in saying things like, “Should that child be doing that to her brother?” “Where did that juice box go?” "Can Aunt Shelle have some of your Cheez-its?” She is an expert at attending dance recitals, soccer games and ice skating competitions all while clapping or cheering at the appropriate moments.While she is very good at passing out cake at birthday parties, due to an unfortunate incident with a stick, her husband has made her promise to never again help with piñatas. Something about lawsuits and personal injury nonsense. She precariously balances being a full-time Aunt with a career in PR and has found that many of her client management skills can also be used on her various nieces and nephews. She is very excited to be part of Reno Mom’s Blog where she will focus on the Reno food and events scene, booster seats and face paint are optional. You can check out her blog at Care & Feeding in Reno, where she desperately needs to post some new stories and recipes. Trust me, she knows, it is on the list.

3 comments

  1. Sizzler is great for toddlers. We just load up the salad bar with all her favorite finger foods and she goes to town!

  2. We love going to Naan and Kabab. The owner and chef is fantastic with the kids which makes mealtime relaxing and our son loves everything there especially the hummas and naan.

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