After working a long day, commuting across the city, sweeping crumbs, checking homework, changing diapers, and cleaning out a potty, I often find myself staring at my well-thought-out, colorful dinner menu on the refrigerator door wondering how I’m going to have the energy to make a plate, let alone cook an actual meal. Let’s face it, committing to cooking or preparing meals every day, all day can be unrealistic for busy moms and parents. Don’t get me wrong, meal prepping is cute but can be time-consuming. Who wants to spend all weekend chopping celery and onions?
With exhaustion slowly taking over your senses, the only alternative is to eat out. However, being the responsible, mindful, and health-conscious parent you are, giving your kids fast food from the nearest drive-thru would bring about another feeling, guilt. Often being put in this situation, I’ve noticed there aren’t very many options that aren’t just fries, burgers, or chicken tenders/nuggets. Most kid meals are fried or have lots of cheese which not only is it unhealthy, the constant input of starches and dairy are a recipe for slowed digestion…and at the end of the day, no one wants to be stuck on the toilet.
Although each restaurant has its own nutritional flaws, here is a list of the top 10 places in Lafayette that seemed to offer some healthy-ish options for kid’s meals:
10.Cracker Barrel – Since this restaurant also serves breakfast, there are options for that as well as a veggie plate that is served with a choice of buttermilk biscuit or corn muffin
9. LaMadeleine – There are foods that include lots of cheese but also a chicken and rice dish that includes broccoli. As with Cracker Barrel, breakfast is also served here leaving options for eggs and/or fruit. Not necessarily the healthiest, but there is also a very tasty cinnamon bun French toast!
8. Chicken Salad Chick – Although small, their kids’ menu does include a scoop of chicken salad that can be served with wheat bread and a side of fruit.
7. McCalister’s Deli – There are quite a bit of foods on their kid’s menu that include cheese, but you can also find other options such as a baked potato and garden salad. The real winner is their side items for meals which include fruit cups, cucumber & tomato salad, applesauce, and steamed broccoli.
6. BJ’s Restaurant Brewhouse – Even for adults, their menu has lots of variety that do include fried items but also options for grilled chicken breast, boiled shrimp (if age appropriate), and a create-your-own pasta with different kinds of pasta and sauce choices.
5. Carrabbas_– Speaking of pasta, this restaurant makes this list because they also have a variety of pasta but the spaghetti and meatball can be made with whole-grain or gluten-free pasta. They also offer a grilled chicken dish with choice sides of broccoli or mashed potatoes.
4. Texas Roadhouse – Their kids’ menu surprised me! Not only are there options with the main dish such as grilled chicken and bite-sized steaks, their impressive side choices include items such as fresh veggies, applesauce, sautéed mushrooms, steamed broccoli, and even a baked sweet potato!
3. Blaze Pizza – Here you can make your own pizza which in turn means you can make it, however “healthy” you choose! There is a great variety of veggie toppings and different meats. This also includes a (barely able to tell) cauliflower crust and even vegan cheese. They don’t technically have a kid’s menu but their 8” Build Your Own Pizza could easily feed one adult or 2 kids.
2. Panera Bread – Over the years, this place has cleaned up its menu to only include items that were healthy and included only fresh ingredients. This means even ditching ranch salad dressing! Their kid’s menu is stacked with customizable soups, pasta, sandwiches, and salads. Even their beverages are healthy! Most of these items don’t include sides so be mindful when ordering for multiple kids!
1. Zoe’s Kitchen – If we want to be technical, this is this place is known for being healthy with fresh Mediterranean foods. Their kid’s meals are either vegetarian-friendly, vegan-friendly, free of gluten, or all three! You can’t go wrong with having a salmon or shrimp kabob with a laundry list of healthy sides including but not limited to quinoa, cauliflower rice, roasted vegetables, and a variety of soups, beans, chili, and hummus. Beware of the upcharge that may come along with selected sides!
Considering south Louisiana cuisine, there were many local eateries that couldn’t make the list due to the lack of variety, vegetable options, and of course, being fried. So if it’s just one of those days you don’t have the strength to even look in the kitchen, rest assured there are choices that will leave your kids feeling full and you not feeling guilty.