The 2013 Worst Food Of The Year

December 17, 2013   22 Comments

Snack Girl usually chooses a “worst snack of the year”, but I decided to deviate from my usual post.

Worst Food: 2013

I decided to choose a “Worst Food of the Year” because this particular food is bugging me. You see, I spend a lot of time with a seven and nine year old and I find myself hating a particular food.

The “Kids’ Meal” is my anointed Worst Food of The Year. What is sad is that it doesn’t matter which venue I visit – I hate the Kid’s Meal.

Obviously, there are the fast food chains. The horror of the 990 calorie kid’s meal at Carl’s Jr. makes McDonald’s look good at a mere 645 calories. Mother Jones researched a bunch of the fast food meals here: Which Fast-Food Kids’ Meal Is the Healthiest?

I believe Mother Jones is preaching to the choir when they post an article such as this – but it is important that someone research this food.

You can already guess that they suggested to make your own meal. But, amazingly, KFC Li’l Bucket won the calorie game with 570 calories per meal. A moderately active preschooler (age 2-5) should have less than 410 calories per meal.

My kids love the toy, the box, the cartoons, the FUN of this food. Remember, these are Snack Girl’s kids. The same kids get fresh fruit in their lunch box and home cooked meals. Heck, I even cut their vegetables into cute shapes when they were toddlers. Argh!

Then, there are the chain restaurants and even local restaurants meals for kids. Soda, fries, small burger, grilled cheese, chicken fingers, pizza, quesadilla, or pasta with tomato sauce and that’s it. Why are the choices the same for every place we go? Even my favorite BBQ dive serves deep fried chicken fingers to kids (and they don't feed them to adults)!

There are very few vegetables in these meals and most of time fruit isn’t included either.

What if I was able to afford staying at a Four Seasons hotel? How about the Kid's Meal for lunch or dinner at one of the poshest hotel chains? Check out Four Season’s Chicago Children’s Menu. It features:

Homemade Chicken Breast Fingers, Ranch or BBQ Sauce and
Grilled Cheese Sandwich, WIsconsin Cheddar
 with Honey Ham

They must be great because they are “homemade” and they used “Wisconsin” cheddar instead of regular cheddar! I do give the Four Seasons credit for offering fresh fruit or carrot sticks instead of French Fries. Of course, if I am paying $1000 per night, I would expect they would offer carrot sticks.

Some of you are going to tell me to just put my foot down and tell them that they have to have the real food on the menu or stop taking them out (and I hear you). Sometimes, I set expectations before we go in and I help them decide to eat something better for them or simply different.

BUT, there are times I am just too tired for a fight and the waiters show up with placemats that the kids can decorate with the dreaded Kid’s Meal already printed right there where they can read it!


Why is our national meal for children this bland, fatty, vegetable-free, mostly junk food? Can’t we do better?

What is your nominee for worst food of the year?

Other posts you might like:

Worst Snack 2012

Worst Snack of 2012

My picture here is supposed to resemble a mug shot. Yes, Hershey’s Milk Shake you are in big trouble.


The Winner Of The Worst Fast Food Is.......

Take a good hard look at the plate of food above. What do you see?....

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First 20 Comments: ( See all 22 )

As we say in my preschool class, "you get what you get and you don't pitch a fit!". A happy meal once in a while is happy!

We usually order our kids an adult meal and then let them split it because I can't stand the children's menu ANYWHERE. We don't go out very often at all, but that is what we do. It is crazy. Most kids love a good salad don't they with some ranch? OR a good bowl of soup?

It's far from perfect, but Red Robin has side options for kids that include fruit, broccoli, and salad. My daughter usually gets a veggie burger or grilled cheese with salad or fruit (which actually varies from season to season). It's really not awful.

Ah, one of the "advantages" of a gluten free diet for my son was that he could not eat any of the kid's meals in most places as they are laden with gluten. And he always takes real food in his school lunches. Definitely a silver lining there….

Maybe we should start a campaign for healthy children's menu meals at restaurants. Snack girl would be a great representative for this movement.

I thought the same thing...when I didn't even have kids of my own! My LO is only 3 months right now. When the time comes that she is eating at a restaurant, she can share mommy's meal or order off the adult menu.

Amen! I can live with the fact that if we're going out to fast food, they're going to be eating unhealthy options. I think of McDonald's as an occasional treat (though it's sometimes more frequent in our family than it should be). What I hate is how early they get addicted to the idea of a "kids' meal" that comes with a toy. It would be more economical to have the kids split a regular size chicken nuggets and French fries, and it would be healthier for them to just drink water like I do. However, they just love the idea of a meal that comes with a juice box and a toy.

I agree about the kids meals, but the $1000 a night hotel room just knocks me out. They should be giving you meals fit for a king.

When going to a fast food restaurant you can always put the meal together yourself with their grilled chicken, fruit and yogurt, small salad and milk. Most fast food joints will give you the toy separate if you ask.

We had to order cucumber slices as fast as possible at age 12 months, so restaurants that couldn't meet the loud demands of a 12 month old quickly got the axe from our list. Favorite restaurants have always been Asian - currently Vietnamese - for our daughter, and Asian restaurants don't have a kids menu so that has ended the battle all together. She loves the marinated shredded carrots and daikon radish served with all the foods which she calls "noodles." These veggies "noodles", a side of rice, and spring rolls or shrimp usually make her meal. We also frequent Peruvian chicken, which again does not have a kids menu, so she gets tortillas, roasted chicken, salad, fries (okay, we're not saints here, right?). So we've found going to restaurants for these other cultures has circumvented the kids meal problem and keeps the color on her plate. Also watching PBS kids and playing Fizzy's Lunch Lab has lead her to be absolutely certain that fast food is bad so we can't even suggest it without her being aghast, so, you know ... we have a bit of an extremist on our hands.

I agree with the PP who said we should campaign for healthy children's menu options for restaurants. In my fantasy world, the kids' menu would look like this:

-whole wheat pasta with homemade cheese sauce OR tomato sauce

-BAKED chicken nuggets or fingers with whole wheat grain bread crumbs

-homemade bowl of chili (my daughter loves chili)

-turkey burger on whole grain bun

Side options: steamed broccoli or green beans, or baked sweet potato fries.

-Included desserts: no sugar added applesauce or fruit cup in 100% fruit juice, or piece of fresh fruit (OR homemade cookie or natural ice cream for a treat).

Now really, would that be so hard? Maybe I should open a restaurant.

The cheesecake factory. Fruit alternative for kid side. You can get veg instead of side just ask. Comes with a drink milk apple juice or soda. Grilled chk with 2 sides is their healthy kid option.

My son, 9, is even disgusted by the kid's menus and wonders why they are the same EVERYwhere. We order off the adult menu for him instead if for nothing else, for variety.

we travel on the weekends a lot for our kids' hockey. Tim Horton's is our standard grab and go as they serve soup, chili, wraps, bagels, and of course, donuts! We live in a town where no fast food/franchise restaurants are permitted by municipal bylaws so there are no happy meals options between the rink and home. Our kids both ended up not wanting "kid menu items" a long time ago as they were all the same at every restaurant in every town...thanks for this article.

My kids love Chinese food. Mom put her foot down first thing, that we don't go to Chinese to eat pizza. From toddlers they loved the string beans, and veggie stir fry's. Of course the ice cream machines were always a hit. Even fast food happy meals (they ate a lot of them, I have the toys to prove it) were split up. They were satisfied. The toy was the attraction.

My preschooler hasn't ever had a happy meal or most other kids meals. Luckily we go to local places, not chain restaurants, so they tend to have better options, but they're still not great.

He usually would prefer fish to most of the other stuff, so that's what I try to order for him. The most frustrating part is the last kids' meal of fish we ordered for him had a HUGE amount of fries, like what you would serve hungry guy watching the football game and having beers. I wish there was a way to ensure that you got a modest amount of food. I think next time we go out, he and I will split something.

Why is this what restaurants serve to kids? Because this is what kids want to eat. Restaurants are in business to make money and the fact that this insipid meal is on every single menu tells you that this is what the demand is for. When more people stop letting their kids order it, demand will fall, and restaurants will change their menus.

My children are all grown (as are my grandchildren), but when they were growing up, We didn't even hve a microwave. Meals were cooked at home, and I worked away from home too. I think we have become a society of comercialism ( they make money from te propaganda ie. toys) and we allow it to influence us as well.

It is great that some folks are broadening their choices by introducing foods from a variety of countries to their children. Still, we don't know what they are using to prepare the food.

The biggest offender are sodas or almost any drink except bottled water anywhere. Though they are supposed to, they rarely clean their soda, and tea machines. I have gotten ill from drinking anything with ice at most places in our town. My nomination for worst food is just about every place in our town except our house. The one good Asian fusion restaurant went out of business : (

Most other places serve food high in fat and salt. We are a small town in Texas and don't have much choice.

I cook almost every day. We switched to coconut oil and have had great results. Hubby's cholesterol which was a tad high is now in the normal range. Yeah!

From your mouth to Parents ears!

If ever we go out to eat a meal, I try to steer the family towards Chili's ... where the kids menu is broken up into selections for protein/entrees, and fruits & veggies. Can sometimes convince them to get a chicken breast with a veggie. *sigh* It seems better than many other choices...

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