Just about every restaurant I can think of off the top of my head has some sort of kid’s menu. Most of those menus are comprised of the same comfort, kid-friendly fare. It is not uncommon to find things like burgers, fries, and mac and cheese. Those things are all fine and dandy, but as we try to make the right choices for our children, it’s interesting to learn that all the apple slices on the menu aren’t going to help some of these restaurants pass the nutrition test that we need to be giving when we feed our kids.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest tested as many as 3,500 kids meals from over 30 restaurants and the scores were abysmally low. In fact, of the 30+ national chains that were tested by a panel of experts, a whopping 97 percent failed to meet nutritional standards for healthy kids meals. The National Restaurant Association did similar testing and 91 percent of restaurants failed their tests, as well.
It is up to parents to make informed choices for their kids and with that in mind, I give you the 9 restaurants that failed to have any type of healthy choices in their kids meals.
The first on the list to fail all around for the inclusion of healthy kids meals is good ole BW3s. You won’t find a more traditional kids meal than you will here. They offer things like chicken tenders, wings (naked or sauced), cheeseburgers, mac and cheese, and corn dogs. Served with a fruit cup (that’s where it supposed to be healthy, I guess) or fries and milk (healthy again, right?) or a soft drink, these meals all tend to be half (or well above half) of a child’s daily caloric intake. For kids enjoying the mac and cheese and fries for instance, they would be consuming 660 calories and 207 of those would come from fat. That’s not including a drink.
We don’t have a Carl’s Jr here and if this article is any indication of their adult offerings apparently I am not missing much. We do have a Hardee’s though, which I am to understand is pretty much the same thing. Surprisingly enough, I am pretty sure I will be talking about them shortly! Not much to say here. This is the same fast food, kid food with burgers, fries, and chicken tenders. If you feed your kid a cheeseburger and fries that’s 580 calories and 240 of those come straight from fat. You’d be better off feeding them at home.
You would think (or at least I did) that a restaurant like Chipotle would have better options for everyone, including the kids, but apparently I was wrong. There are three kids meal options at Chipotle. Kids can get one taco, two tacos, or a quesadilla. All meals come with chips. Assuming a child gets two (crispy) tacos with chicken, cheese, and sour cream with chips it would add up to 395 calories. The real shocker here is the 320 mg of sodium. The chicken quesadilla with white rice, black beans, and chips is much worse, coming in at 580 calories, 23 grams of fat, and 900 mg of Sodium. Good golly! That’s more than I could have ever imagined.
I have some bad news and some news that I found rather funny about Dairy Queen. First the funny news. Realizing that the restaurant failed horribly when it came to nutrition in kids meals, the restaurant adopted a new Live Well option that suits the National Restaurant Associations standards. This menu option includes a Kid’s Turkey Wrap, a Banana, and a Kid’s Strawberry Banana Smoothie. Unlike every other kid’s meal, this option lacks a sweet treat at the end of the meal. Now onto the bad news. Anything your child will want to eat at DQ is going to be atrociously bad for them! A standard kids meal at Dairy Queen includes an entree (Grilled Cheese, Hot Dog, Cheeseburger, or Chicken tenders), fries or applesauce, a drink (milk, Arctic Rush slushie, or pop), and a treat (Dilly Bar, kid cone, or ice cream sandwich). To put this into perspective I picked the Grilled Cheese (which is not the highest calorie entree), fries, Arctic Rush, and a Dilly Bar. This gives your child 1,060 calories, 340 calories from fat, and a whopping 1,660 mg of Sodium.
Earlier in this article I stated that we didn’t have a Carl Jr’s, but I guessed Hardee’s would be equally as bad when it came down to the numbers. Well, I was half right. The numbers are close, but when it comes down to it, Hardees actually appears to be a little bit worse. A cheeseburger kid’s meal with fries (no drink) comes to 870 calories, 330 of those calories come from fat and it also has a ridiculous 1,790 mg of Sodium. It would be healthier to feed them the bag that the food comes in.
I had the pleasure (or displeasure) of working at McDonald’s for about two years when I was much younger. I have some great memories of that time, but I’m glad I’m not there anymore. I can barely eat McDonald’s food to this day as a result of the amount that I consumed while I worked there. They have since adopted numerous new menu items and supposedly picked up some healthier choices for the kids, like apple slices. Unfortunately, these options weren’t good enough to stop them from failing. The numbers here aren’t shockingly higher or lower than any you’ve seen so far. A cheeseburger meal with apple dippers and chocolate milk will run your kids 570 calories. The sodium count is nearly 1,000 mg, which is even more worrisome. These numbers get worse if you go with fries and pop, becoming 840 calories. When it comes to sodium, the numbers barely raise going from 940 to 960 mg.
We don’t have a Panda Express in our area, but every mall seems to have a Chinese option. The quick serve Chinese place in the Dayton Mall seems to be pretty popular, though I have to admit that I am pretty picky about Chinese so I have never tried it. In the case of Panda Express, I could not find any nutritional information for the kids meal. All I know is that the kids meal comes with a smaller portion of one of their popular menu items (Beef and Broccoli, Orange Chicken, or something else), rice and a Fortune Cookie. I’m sure a drink is included, as well. Other than that the only thing I know is that these meals don’t pass the test when it comes to nutritional options for the kiddies.
I have to admit, I’ve never been to a Perkins even though we have one not too far from us, here in Dayton. It seems like one of those Bob Evans type of restaurants and since I’ve never heard anything particularly amazing about them, I’ve just continued to go to Bob Evans, which we usually enjoy. Using the nutrition calculator on the Perkins website is quite a shock! For a cheeseburger kids meal with fries and cookies it is 1,290 calories, 74 grams of fat and 1400 mg of Sodium. Things don’t get much better for breakfast, at least not if you’re ordering the Kids City Slicker breakfast, which gets you an egg made your way, bacon, pancakes, and hash browns. It also yields 910 calories, 260 calories from fat, and a mind blowing 3,170 mg of Sodium.
I’ve never been to Popeye’s. Dayton is the first city I’ve ever lived in that has had one. I guess I’m more of a KFC girl as a result. Either way, I am sure that both options are bad for the kids. Kids meals at Popeye’s consist of a chicken leg, some nuggets, or tenders, a side item, and a drink. I checked out their nutrition calculator and put in a chicken leg and some cajun fries to get a total of under 500 calories. That wouldn’t be too bad (better than a lot on this list) but it contains 23 grams of fat and over 1,000 mg of Sodium, making it a pretty horrible choice.
In short…feed your kids the bag…or…take them home and actually cook for them. I recommend the latter. It’s safer and smarter!
Powered by Facebook Comments