To the rescue come restaurants that know parents are looking for help with meals they feel good about feeding their families. In addition to providing competitively priced meal solutions, restaurants are bringing convenience, customization and nutrient-rich choices to the table. Here’s how:
- Convenience: Fast and casual dining restaurants alike are adopting methods to improve speed-of-service. From apps for mobile ordering and quick payments to tablets near the restaurant entrance and tables, restaurants know families are tight on time. Earlier this year Chick-fil-A started offering a valet service that allows parents to order at the drive-thru, park their car and get their family into the restaurant where they’re directed to a table set with their food and drinks.
- Customization: One child wants rice with chicken, the other wants beef in a tortilla and mom wants a salad with grilled shrimp. The ability for everyone to get exactly what they want at one restaurant means no arguing about where to eat. While frequently available at fast casual salad, sandwich and taco shops, casual dining restaurants are also accommodating customization by splitting up children’s sides, entrees and beverages, allowing people to mix and match.
- Nutrient-rich Choices: Parents rely on restaurants to provide nutritious meals for their family. One-third of parents agree that options for kids at restaurants should have all-natural ingredients. And many are willing to pay more for items that are antibiotic-free, high protein, organic and whole grain. To support the desire for simple and fresh ingredients, many restaurants have pledged to remove artificial ingredients. Pizza Hut, for example, removed all artificial flavors and colors from core pizzas in 2015; removed the BHA/BHT preservative from meat toppings in 2016 and made commitments to remove artificial preservatives from cheese and antibiotics important to human medicine from chicken by 2017. Restaurants are also introducing more nutritious sides and beverages to kids’ menus. Chili’s now offers five non-potato fruit/vegetable sides--from salad and veggie sticks to fresh pineapple--and a number of non-added sugar beverage alternatives for kids.
Busy lifestyles and the demand for better on-the-go foods has led to more restaurants offering simple, nutritious meals. As health and wellness professionals, encourage your clients to ask for substitutions like healthier sides, preparation methods and drinks when dining out.