Appetizers are a big opportunity for restaurants. According to Technomic’s 2017 Starters, Small Plates and Sides Consumer Trend Report, 38% of consumers say they purchase appetizers on all or most of their restaurant visits. And the biggest reason they purchase them is because they want something to eat while they wait for their meal—47% say so.
But for the many diners out there visiting restaurants with their kids, many appetizer choices aren’t ideal. For instance, small children might not know how to safely (or neatly) eat chicken wings, which can turn into a big mess for parents. Other appetizers, like quesadillas or chicken strips, might be too large for their little stomachs—ruining their appetites for their main course.
As restaurants start to cater more to millennial parents and young families, appetizers can fulfill a need that many diners with kids have—giving hungry kids something to eat before the adults’ food gets to the table. And not just any appetizers will do. Check out these four options for kid-friendly appetizers and why they should be on the menu.
About a quarter of consumers say healthier options would encourage them to purchase more appetizers, according to Technomic’s 2017 Starters, Small Plates and Sides report. For these diners, offering child-sized portions of apple slices, carrot sticks or other fruits and veggies is a great option. They’re simple for the kitchen staff to prepare and can be priced affordably for the parent who doesn’t want to add too much to their bill. Finger foods like these, with which most kids are already familiar, can be a great way to hold kids over before their full meal comes. As a bonus, parents who are stopping in for a meal on-the-go can order these apps to be wrapped up when they’re about to leave so their kids can enjoy a healthy snack later in the day.
At Jason’s Deli, kids can build their own appetizer platter by choosing from four options such as fruit; a hard-boiled egg; organic carrots; cucumbers; grape tomatoes; broccoli; zucchini sticks; or sliced cheddar. The four items are served with roasted red pepper hummus or ranch dressing.
Hummus and pita (or pita chips) are a great kid-friendly appetizer that parents will love, too. Hummus comes in an array of flavors, which helps when appeasing picky eaters, and new iterations even offer something sweet—dessert hummus flavors such as cake batter or cookie dough, served with cinnamon toast pita chips (as done at The Hummus & Pita Co., a chain with locations in six states) are a unique and portable option.
Unfussy yet well-loved, snack crackers such as Goldfish® are another option that’s perfect for parents and kids alike. They’re great for now or later—or anytime at all. Best of all, they come in varieties made with real cheese and whole grains, which will win over consumers who are seeking out wholesome ingredients on restaurant menus.
Crackers can also easily be saved for later—making them ideal for ordering at the end of the meal—but also because they’ve got built-in portion control. Each cracker is just one bite, so leftovers are easy to package up and there’s no worry about overeating before the meal.
According to Technomic’s Starters, Small Plates and Sides report, 67% of consumers say that it’s important for an appetizer to satisfy a craving. Fried mac and cheese bites are perfect for diners of all ages; kids are familiar with mac and cheese (and almost always love it), and it serves as a comforting, indulgent option.
While it’s important to please parents, it’s just as important to delight all guests—even the littlest ones. Goldfish® is the most popular cracker brand among households with kids under 12. With a wide variety of products that contain no artificial flavors or preservatives—including options made with whole grains—Goldfish® crackers can help create fun, delicious and wholesome meals in a number of ways.
As snacks, sides, breakfast items, desserts and more, Goldfish® products provide ample opportunities for creativity. Use crackers or grahams as fun garnishes in soups or to create eye-catching meals. These kid favorites add playfulness for young diners, who can dunk Goldfish® Giant Grahams into yogurt and use Goldfish® crackers to make smiling faces on their plates. By combining flavor and fun, Goldfish® can bring extra smiles to kids and parents to keep them coming back for more. Sample Now >>
IRI Total U.S. All Outlets, latest 52 weeks through January 2019