Paying 5 Bucks for Kids’ Mac-and-Cheese at Restaurants

One year.

Though I’m still pretty new to this parenting thing, I have been noticing for the past several years the hilariousness of kids’ menus in non-fast-food restaurants.

Evidently, the food pyramid for children consists of peanut butter of jelly sandwiches, chicken fingers, pizza, and of course, macaroni and cheese.

Yes, I know the stress of eating out at restaurants with a kid. I’ve written about it before. Still though, it’s almost insulting that the popular food staples found on kids’ menus do not contain any unprocessed vegetables or fruit.

They are not nutritious meals; they are simply better than fast food snacks to keep a kid from whining that they’re hungry.

Even though we avoid eating out as much possible, there are times when we have no other option; like being on vacation.

Last week while we were test driving a Chevy Volt across southern Florida, our dinners mainly took place at the fancy restaurants in the glorious hotels we stayed at. Though we had brought our own fruits and veggies for our son Jack to eat throughout the three day trip, we still wanted to incorporate “big boy food” into his meals as well.

Right now Jack is in his “mac-and-cheese” phase. He’s obsessed, man. So naturally, that’s what I ordered each night for him at dinner. The first night in particular was my favorite.

After waiting a good 12 minutes or so for the cooks to prepare his mac-and-cheese, the waiter brought out a regular sized glass bowl as if it were the most premium version of the meal a person could find. It looked just like normal mac-and-cheese to me.

Jack ended up eating it in our hotel room. It tasted just like the normal stuff. Nothing over-the-top about it. Just plain ole mac-and-cheese.

But it cost 7 bucks! (Thankfully, we weren’t the ones paying for dinner.)

I mean, it’s already a joke when you have to pay 5 bucks for kids’ mac-and-cheese at most places… but 7 dollars?

For that much, the cheese needs to be made from magical goats in Switzerland that spit gold. The noodles should have been freshly hand-crafted by the grandson of Chef Boyardee himself. For seven dollars, when I changed Jack’s dirty after that meal, it should have smelled like Play-Doh.

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  1. by Megan

    On December 12, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    We’ve found the best kids menu’s are at Japanese Restaurants, they offer the sauteed veggies: mushrooms, squash, zucchini and broccoli with rice. Olive Garden is the best “chain” with a kids menu, grilled chicken and spaghetti is at least a little better than mac n cheese for 7 bucks!!!

  2. by Nick Shell

    On December 12, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    Japanese, I never would have thought of that one!

  3. by Nina

    On December 13, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    That’s is why I won’t let my kids get mac and cheese at Panera’s. It’s $8. I am not paying $8 for mac and cheese.

  4. by Jessica M

    On December 13, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    The worst is when you pay $5 or $6 and when it comes out it is so obviously Kraft Mac & Cheese right out of the $0.75 box!

    Also makes me mad that they bring it out so piping hot – having to wait 5 min for it to cool off is not fun, why don’t restaurants get it??

  5. by Jessi

    On December 14, 2011 at 7:41 am

    I agree, I hate the crap they have on kids menus, even at nice restaurants, like you said. My son is a great eater, he actual doesn’t like things like frys and chicken nuggets. Once, we were at Boston Pizza, I got excited because they had salmon and steamed veggies on the menu. When it arrived my son wouldn’t eat it though and I couldn’t figure out why, until I tasted it, it was awful! They need to learn that kids can take some herbs and spices, don’t need everything to be bland! This is why kids today are overweight and picky!

  6. by joanne

    On December 15, 2011 at 9:37 am

    I am a restaurant manager and have to stand up for our side. First, remember that service industry people, especially kitchen staff, for the most part are not family oriented people. We concentrate on getting food out hot, that is part of our job. I believe its your job to blow on the food and make sure it comes out the right temperature. The cheese sauce we’re using to make your kid’s mac is the same as in the lobster mac we get 12.95 for. The staff that prepared and portioned the pasta and washed the bowls its being served in have to get paid. The plastic cups and sippy straws you get your child’s drink in are expensive as well as the menu and crayons they use to color. The mess kids make, on the floor, table, walls, chalkboards, and mirrors takes time to clean up. There is a lot that goes into waiting on a family with unruly children with patience and a smile and usually they are not compensated nearly the 20% because people don’t seem to tip appropriately on kids meals. Next time you complain about a $7 meal try to take all of this into consideration.