Before going out to eat, no matter what the occasion, what the venue, I always check the online menu ahead of time. The main reasons for this are that I have a hard time making up my mind so the extra time to think is a big help, and I like to see what the offerings are for Caleb. Usually, a scan of the children's menu leaves me disappointed. Sadly, this time was no different.
My husband I have put a lot of time and thought into the feeding of our son over the last 3 years. Breastfeeding was, for us, a no brainer, but the adding of "solids" or "real" foods required a lot more consideration. I did not want my son to be a chicken nugget, hot dog and mac and cheese kind of kid and I felt (and still feel) quite firmly that the avoidance of that starts with baby's first meals.
As it seems more and more people are returning to, I made as much of Caleb's baby food as I could. I loved the knowledge that I was "cooking" for him (even when it was just mashing up a banana) and the control I had over the ingredients that went into his food. Equally as important, I had control over the texture and flavor of his meals in a way that I don't think you do when you rely on jars. As he got bigger and more accustomed to eating I could make things thicker, chunkier, add different spices and experiment with different combinations of foods. Purees quickly gave way to soft steamed chunks of veggies and small crumbles of ground meats. Early favorite meals were variations of shepherd's pie and the like.
Long before his first birthday, Caleb was off of "baby" food and his meals consisted of smaller, softer portions of what mom and dad were eating. This worked well when went out to eat as either the hub or I (or sometimes both) would share our entree with him. As Caleb has gotten bigger and started eating more, it now seems like he should get his own meal and this is where the aforementioned problems with the kid's menus comes in. It is very rare (in our experience) to find a kid's menu that excites us and provides us with the things we want our son to eat. Don't get me wrong, he has had and loves chicken fingers, french fries, grilled cheese and the other staples of the kid's menu, we would just prefer to get him something else. I hate, however, to get him an adult sized entree and see food go to waste and not always do the hub and I get entrees good for sharing (ie, we both tend to like things on the spicy side and Cal doesn't.) Every time we go out to eat, I wonder why restaurants don't provide their little customers with choices more in line with the offerings they provide adults, just smaller.
That brings us back to last weekend's dinner out. The restaurant in question was a German one, with a menu filled with shnitzels, saurkrauts and brats, all things my son would happily eat. Turning to the children's menu- hot dog, chicken fingers, grilled cheese, mac and cheese. Not one thing representative of the cuisine of the restaurant.
Our solution in this particular instance, as we really wanted to make sure Cal had a chance to sample something new was to choose an appetizer which sounded appealing, and then share a bit off of everyone's plate. He enjoyed it for sure but the only thing he asked for more of was the french fries that came off his grandmother's plate! Reflection on this has resigned me to the following going forward... going out to eat infrequently and allowing those times when we do to be a real treat for him and if that treat comes in the form of chicken fingers and fries, I guess we can all live with it. All things in moderation.
All for now. Thanks for reading.