Eating out with my children is an adventure. And that’s putting it nicely. Before we had children, Jon and I would eat out often. But now, it’s basically never. When we had just one child we thought it was hard to eat out….but add two more in to the mix and it’s pretty much a circus.
We are outnumbered. And they know it. So today I thought I’d share some of my tips for eating out with kids. We do this VERY RARELY…..like maybe once a month or once every two months. I think if we ate out more frequently with the kids it would help them learn how to behave at a restaurant…but it’s just so dang hard that we just don’t do it very often. Anyone else feel that way?
1. Set expectations before you go. Before we even leave to go to a restaurant, I start talking to Hudson about it. He is the ringleader of our little gang of children, so if he’s on board and behaves then Sadie is more likely to behave too. We talk about how we have to sit in our seat when we are at a restaurant, use an inside voice, and most importantly, eat the food without whining. We basically have the same rules as at home but a lot of nights it’s just me and the kids because Jon is working late…..so I let some of the rules slide in order to save my sanity. Mostly the sit in your seat rule. #reallife
2. Pick a restaurant with the right atmosphere for kids. We know better than to go to a fancy restaurant with our children. They won’t eat the food and there is no way they will behave. I like to pick a place that is quick, not ultra quiet, and family-friendly. One of our favorite places to eat out as a family is Noodles & Company. They cater to all dietary needs and preferences, including gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, low-carb and low-calorie. Noodles & Company offers made-to-order dishes that use fresh ingredients, so I know it’s a place where we will all find something on the menu to enjoy!
The employees at Noodles & Company are always amused and seem to enjoy my kids. So that makes me feel better too.
3. Be prepared: I feel like I bring ALL THE THINGS when we eat out. I make sure I have the supplies I need to keep everyone happy. Each kid has an activity bag that they only get when we go to a restaurant. It has crayons, a coloring book, pencil, notepad, and a water wow. These have been LIFESAVERS for us. My kids love to color while they are at a restaurant thank goodness! I also bring a straw top to turn any cup in to a kid cup, a placemat and bib for Belle, as well as her own sippy cup of water.
4. Pick a place you know they’ll eat. Sadie and Belle are pretty adventurous eaters, so I don’t have to worry about them too much, but Hudson is very picky. So if we go out to eat we make sure we pick a place that will have something on the menu he will eat. Noodles & Company is perfect for us because all of the kids like mac n’ cheese and spaghetti. Score!
Plus they serve applesauce pouches with their kid’s meals. Which are my children’s favorite food.
Have a reward in mind for after dinner. Usually it’s dessert. Obviously. I try and remind Hudson and Sadie throughout our meal that if they behave nicely they can have something yummy for dessert. I’m like a broken record of “sit in your seat please” and “eat your dinner” and “remember, if you are a good listener we will get ice cream!” Works like a charm.
Noodles & Company just launched their brand new zucchini noodles called zoodles! Isn’t that cool? They are spiralized in-house daily and are a great substitute to regular noodles. Noodles & Company is the first fast-casual restaurant to launch zucchini noodles nationwide, so we hopped on in to test them out! And they were good. So good. Belle LOVED them.
Jon ordered the Thai Green Curry with Shrimp (it’s a little spicy!)
And I had Zucchini Romesco, which was hands down our favorite!
What’s neat is that you can substitute zucchini noodles in place of classic noodles in any dish! So I ordered Belle the zoodles with mac n’ cheese sauce and she gobbled it up.
That is, until she saw my plate. Girlfriend only wanted my meal.
Zoodles are packed with vitamin C and potassium and are gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian. Plus a regular portion of zucchini noodles has 90 percent fewer calories and carbs than a regular portion of elbow noodles, which is great for a mama like me who is always looking to enjoy a meal with a lighter option. And I thought they tasted really good! Like, why haven’t I been eating like this all the time?
Want to try zoodles for yourself? Find your nearest Noodles & Company here.
I partnered with Noodles & Company for this post, but all opinions are my own.