Whether you’re planning a staycation or just tired of cooking, finding fresh, healthy food in family-friendly restaurants can be challenging. There’s a lot of fast food that is budget-friendly, but that can make for a lot of fried foods showing up on your plate and being fed to your children. Here we’ll discuss five hacks for finding healthy family restaurants in your area.
Do a Culture Check
Keep an eye out for Asian restaurants and Asian cooking styles. For example, if you’re looking for veggie-intensive healthy food in Utah, an Asian fusion restaurant may be a great choice. Middle Eastern food choices can be filling and healthy, including
- veggie-intense gyros
You can also protect your family from a high-fat or meat-heavy meal by stopping for Indian food. Traditional Indian foods are generally low in fat and long on flavor, though if your children are small, they may have trouble with the spices.
Check Social Media
If you’re looking at the offerings of a new restaurant in your area, make sure you check out Facebook and Instagram photos. Is every burger loaded with bacon and paired with fries? This may be a fun outing, but should not be a regular stop.
Make sure the restaurant has a child’s menu if the portion size is a concern. A quality restaurant with skilled wait staff will work with you on bringing extra plates to the table so you can split up portions and share plates with your children. While children may not be happy splitting a plate with a sibling, you may be able to convince them to split with an adult at the table.
Look for Breakfast All Day
Breakfast can be a healthy choice at any time. A poached or scrambled egg with wheat toast and a cup of fruit can be not only tasty but cost-effective. Again, portion size is a concern. You may be hungry enough for an omelet, but the addition of potatoes, pancakes, or toast may push you into the danger zone in terms of calories.
Again, be willing to split with a dining partner. If possible, get the meat portion on the side to share. Do be aware that some restaurants may stretch the veggies in an omelet by adding a cheaper product, which may mean that you end up with an onion omelet. Eggs are loaded with protein and fat, which means they will soak up a lot of flavors. If you’re not that keen on onions, choose an omelet or skillet that has meat and ask to omit the meat. You may get a much more flavorful meal that you can share.
Find Gluten-Free Options
If you can find a restaurant that offers gluten-free options, you can probably get a lettuce wrap or a “bowl” option instead of a high-carb sandwich. Even if you don’t need a gluten-free choice for your health, avoiding bread if calories are a concern can give you more options.
Another terrific idea for eating healthier and within budget is to focus on potatoes. Yes, a plain baked potato contains carbohydrates. However, it’s also a great source of potassium, vitamins C and B6, and fiber. Switch to a sweet potato and you also get Vitamin A. You will have to eat your white potato with the skin on to get the full nutrients. If you can find a potato bar, consider a plain baker with plenty of non-starchy vegetables, such as asparagus or broccoli, and get a light sauce on the side.
Check for Cafes Attached to Museums
Many museum cafes offer plates that are works of art in themselves. Often, these can be picked up, cafeteria-style, on small plates. For those with small children, this could mean that the adults in the group can be in control of what gets picked up. For example, you can get a wrap to split between two people and a dessert to split between more.
Such cafes may have a nice place to sit once you’ve picked up your food. If you can get your family settled and collect several small plates on one of the cafeteria trays, you can provide a small buffet and everyone can get a taste of several different healthy options.
Any place that’s famous for its burgers should probably be avoided. Even if you strive to avoid fatty foods, walking in and smelling french fries may derail you from your goals.