5 Healthiest Restaurant Kids’ Meals

by in Dining Out, April 3, 2012
kids menu
Think beyond grilled cheese when dining out with your kids.

Trying to feed your kids healthy options when dining out can be stressful. Most restaurants offer the usual chicken fingers, mac and cheese, hamburger with fries or grilled cheese, but the calories, fat and sodium on these items is through the roof. Here are the healthiest options we found at popular restaurants.

Chili’s
The grilled chicken is the way to go at Chili’s. You can order the Grilled Chicken Platter, which has 160 calories, 3.5 grams of fat and 170 milligrams of sodium or the Grilled Chicken Sandwich with 230 calories, 5 grams of fat and 230 milligrams of sodium. Add a side of celery sticks with ranch dressing for an additional 80 calories, steamed broccoli for 30 calories or mandarin oranges or pineapple for 35 calories.

Macaroni Grill
Grilled Chicken and Pasta is the healthiest kid’s option at this Italian eatery. This dish has 350 calories, 6 grams of fat, and 5 grams of fiber. The sodium, however, is high with 840 milligrams so it should be a once-in-a-while treat.

Red Lobster
Some of the healthier options include Broiled Fish with 200 calories, 1.5 grams of fat and 350 milligrams of sodium or the Garlic Grilled Fish with 60 calories, 1 gram of fat and 580 milligrams of sodium. Good accompaniments are the fresh broccoli with 45 calories, garden salad with 90 calories or fruit with 40 calories.

Friendly’s
The healthiest fare here is the Chicken with Broccoli with 260 calories, 5 grams of fat and 540 milligrams of sodium. Ice cream is the main attraction at this joint; be sure to limit dessert to 1 scoop with 1 topping or have the kids share a larger treat.

Panera Bread
Although the deli sandwiches may be tempting, they have over 1,000 milligrams of sodium each. Instead, opt for the PB&J sandwich with 410 calories, 18 grams of fat (mostly unsaturated) and 550 milligrams of sodium.

TELL US: How do you keep your kids healthy when dining out?

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Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby’s full bio »

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