Changing the “Kid Food” Stereotype in America
During my pregnancy with my second child I took some classes to get certified as an event planner and also learn about dining services. There was a discussion about how to hire a caterer for a wedding or a party. When I asked the teacher if there is such a thing as a kid party caterer she told me that doesn’t exist, that usually kids would just eat kid food like Pizza. Why is this? Aren’t our kids deserving of a good meal too. Do we always have to do the Pizza party or plain hot dogs and burgers?
When I have planned birthday parties for my daughter I did the typical American “Kid Food” such as hot dogs and burgers. But then I started thinking about the parents I invite and thought that perhaps they would like something more appetizing. I am sure that at home parents are not always ordering pizza for their kids for dinner and they eat what mom or dad cooks for the whole family. Growing up in Latin America myself, I don’t remember having separate food then what my parents ate. Becoming a mom in Florida, by default I started following what other mothers were doing and forgetting about how I grew up.
I’m sure at American homes children eat chicken and rice and even veggies. But the fast lifestyle we live in pushes mom’s to look for something easier and faster. Why should we change our menu when it’s a kid’s party? Our kids deserve to have a real meal that will be healthier for them and also more satisfying for the parents that attend.
On my daughter’s last birthday I decided to try something different and also take into account her friends that have gluten and egg allergies. In previous parties I felt bad that they couldn’t eat any birthday cake because of their allergies, so I went ahead and made some Gluten Free chocolate cupcakes and chocolate brownie stars. To my surprise everyone liked the chocolate brownie stars and cupcakes without even noticing they were gluten free. This just proved to me that I can have food that everyone would like, even if they have allergies. I also had baked sweet potato fries instead of regular fries and corn chips with salsa as additional snacks. I did end up doing the burgers and hot dogs, but I tried to make a it a little healthier by getting the kosher hot dogs instead of the regular ones as well as lean ground beef to make the burger patties myself, instead of buying the pre-made ones.
I think that as parents we have to put more effort into having healthy food for our kid’s parties. I am guilty of taking the easy way out and just ordering pizza, but there is no excuse. I think that for all parties, kid’s party or adult party, the most important thing is food and entertainment. If there were affordable caterers that would do healthy kid menus and make food fun and appetizing, I would probably hire them. Also if I was sure that all kids would eat these healthier meals with the same excitement they eat a slice of pizza, I would be less hesitant to have the chicken and rice platters. I think this can be achieved if we take healthier food and make it more colorful by displaying it in a way that attracts kids. For example, serving mini baby carrots in individual mini cups with tiny cups of yogurt ranch dressing, kids would be more attracted to it.
Now that I am staying home to raise my kids, I take more time into what they are eating. I am making an effort to introduce my daughter to all the different flavors of vegetables and fruits that before she would just tell me she didn’t like. I think that together we can have more healthy children in this world. We just need some help and guidance. I will share some of my ideas in this blog, and maybe you can try them out and let me know how it goes.