Everyone knows portion sizes are out of control. You can jumbo-size soft drinks. Super-size fries. And everyone who’s ever been out to a chain sit-down restaurant knows that the portions should be enough to feed you for at least two meals (if you can show self-restraint, which is tough because, delicious.). That’s nothing new; it’s been like this for years. But what is new — at least new to me as a parent of two young kiddos — is how freakishly large kids meals are at restaurants.
My husband and I love to go out to eat. It’s not a relaxing thing to do with kids, but we do try to do it on occasion because it’s still fun, even if it does cause us some serious stress. (“The milk is spilling! He’s about to throw the spoon! OMG, can the food get here, stat!?”) We enjoy those nights off from cooking and cleaning, and that’s always worth a good tip. Eating out is tougher with kids, so we tend to go to places that are kid-friendly, also known as super loud. We also tend to go at like 5 o’clock, so we can practically still get the lunch menu. But I digress.
When my daughter was really young, we’d skip ordering a kid’s meal and just give her food from our plates. She’d get to try a variety of things she wouldn’t normally get to eat at home, and we were all happy. As she got older, and we added our son to the mix, we started ordering actual kid’s meals. Or I should say “kid’s meal.” Singular. Because they are giant. Practically full-sized hamburgers, or several large chicken strips. Enough fries to feed a small army. We’re talking, these meals are plenty big enough to satisfy most adults. I feel like the world’s cheapest person, but I always split one meal between my two kids. Granted, they’re young still, but not once have they even come close to finishing even half of their meal (and my daughter is the queen of the clean plate). Not to mention that one restaurant gave out full-size Starburst candy after the meal. Another brought ice cream cones for dessert.
I have nothing against Starburst or ice cream cones or fries and the occasional treat. But isn’t it a problem when we don’t even have a chance to learn what a proper portion-size is? Not even when we’re kids? I’m not sure if the restaurant industry will ever embrace that concept; they want customers to feel like they’re getting good value for the money, and they don’t want you to walk away hungry. Luckily, young kids are pretty good at regulating — they eat when they’re hungry, and stop when they’re full. It’s up to us as parents to instill what normal portions look like, and to guide them along the way. And to keep ordering one meal between two kids so as not to waste an enormous amount of food.
Do you think kids’ portions are out of control too? Do you feel like a cheapskate when you split meals at restaurants? —Erin