Monday, May 16, 2011

My take on a perfect kids' meal on board

On my latest trip with the kids, from Vancouver to Gran Canaria and back, my children did not get the kids' meals I'd ordered on any of the Lufthansa flights we were on. This was very disappointing, especially since I had really done my best: phoning the airline ahead of time and reminding them at check-in as well.

Even if you get the kids' meal on board, it can be pretty hit and miss. I've seen some terrible kids' meals, including a dried up, lukewarm cheeseburger that looked like it had been on board for several flights, some glue-like grilled cheese sandwiches, and another very odd sandwich that included a pungent chutney-like substance I couldn't even eat myself (and I'm a pretty adventurous eater).

If there's pasta included in the kids' meal, I know my son will usually eat something, and he is no longer as picky an eater as he once was. My daughter, who is 4, is still definitely in the picky compartment, where only some foods will do, and often only if they're not "touching" each other...

What's inside? I can only hope my kids will think it's edible.
So, taking into consideration my own experiences with picky (and not so picky) eaters, what would I include if I was putting together a kids' meal to serve on board, a meal that had to be relatively healthy and also likely to be eaten?

1. The protein
Nice and tender chunks of chicken or beef, but nothing breaded please! Maybe threaded on a blunt skewer (non-sharp, to be safe on board and in kids' hands...). And maybe served with a dipping sauce on the side, like ketchup, or sweet and sour sauce, or soy sauce.

2. The carbs
Pasta rules in my house and I usually like it on board as well, whether it's for kids or adults. Preferably bigger kinds of pasta because it's easier for kids to eat, stuff like ravioli, tortellini, penne or rotini. And the pasta should be served plain. I don't mind pasta sauce, but I wish it would be served on the side in a separate tub so that picky eaters could take it or leave it. A little shaker with parmesan cheese could be included too: some kids like it!

Dumplings, like potstickers or gyozas, would be awesome too.

Potatoes are good as well: pan-fried or mashed would be my choice. And some bread: fresh buns are often offered on board at mealtimes, and those are great, especially with a small pat of butter. A package of crackers should also be included.

3. The dairy
Some fruit or berry-flavored yogurt is a good addition to any kids' meal. The fattier the better too: none of that low-calorie stuff for kids! And a chunk of cheese. Maybe some cream cheese too, for that bread or those crackers.

4. The vegetables
A cup of simple, fresh cut vegetables like carrots, cucumber, grape tomatoes and celery sticks would be ideal. And I think it should be served with a small container of dip on the side: on the side being a key thing for picky eaters. Ranch dip or hummus would be great, but there are lots of other dipping possibilities there.

5. The fruit
Just some simple, unadorned fresh fruit. Either whole fruit like apples, grapes, bananas, strawberries, and oranges. Or a fruit salad, preferably without the juice or syrup, just because that stuff can get messy and sticky real fast.

6. The sweet treat
Treats are good, and they don't have to be elaborate of fancy. A cookie, maybe a small candy bar or a bag of gummies... anything that's sweet and not covered in chocolate will do.

7. The drink
Please, no more of the little plastic cups with the pull-off foil lid! They always splatter me with juice and they are so hard for kids to handle without spilling. Juice boxes, or milk in drink-boxes are much better. Or just some straight up water, but then that's usually always available on board anyway.

Airline-food image  thanks to Wikimedia Commons.


  1. Pasta rules in this house too right now! I have to agree with all of this!

  2. Without pasta, there would be a lot less eating at my house. ;)


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