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Out to Lunch: A Secret Diner's Perspective

Anya Hart Dyke: It can be pretty stressful taking a young child to a restaurant. My daughter is 17 months old so I’m always wondering if there’ll be room for the buggy, if they’ll have high chairs, if I’ll get a chance to eat my own meal or have to get a doggy bag. The last thing you expect to worry about is the food.

06 November 2015 | 2 Comments | Recommended by 0

A revolution in children’s food on the high street is underway

Rob Percival: Two years ago the Out to Lunch campaign recruited a small army of ‘secret diner’ parents to find out what the nation's high street restaurants were serving up to our youngsters. The response from parents was emphatic: "these restaurants would go out of business if they treated their grown-up guests the same."

21 October 2015 | 2 Comments | Recommended by 3

Out to Lunch… Where does our food come from?

Natasha Collins Daniel: “You’re getting served a sneezer” my husband said as our waitress trudged off to the kitchen a third time. We were visiting Wagamama, researching for the Soil Association’s Out to Lunch campaign - improving children’s food in popular UK restaurants. The campaign is putting pressure on restaurants, cafès and family-friendly pubs across the country to cook fresh, interesting meals, use quality ingredients, make healthy eating easy, and provide families with a warm welcome.

17 August 2015 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 1

Calling all parents! Volunteer as a restaurant critic

Rob Percival: In 2013, the Soil Association investigated the food served to children in 21 of the biggest and most popular high street chains across the UK. We uncovered a glaring lack of variety and creativity in children’s menus, with healthy eating made difficult by the dominance of chicken nuggets, burgers and sausages, and restaurants failing to provide parents and children with what they want and deserve.

24 June 2015 | 2 Comments | Recommended by 5

Why restaurants are no place to treat children

Amy Leech: Eating out is a treat; whether once a year or week it’s a pleasure to be waited on, cooked for, and get a smile (a smile!) in return for dirty dishes – unless that is you’re unlucky enough to be under 12. Back in the, let’s go for a rose-tinted, ‘balmy’ summer of 2013 I set out with a small army of families to find out what the nation’s high street restaurants were serving up to our youngsters.

05 February 2015 | 1 Comments | Recommended by 3

Ditch the junk

Kathie Auton: This week Organix is launching the No Junk campaign and are calling on parents to take on the challenge of ditching the junk from their family's food for a week and, instead, feeding the kids with real food. Real food that contains ingredients like 'tomatoes' instead of polymonoglockenspieldioxide*. They want us to read the label and reject any food that has ingredients we don't recognise or can't spell.

28 April 2014 | 1 Comments | Recommended by 4

Out to Lunch with Wahaca

Amy Leech: It's fair to say that children aren't always the easiest customers, but when we investigated the standard of food and service on offer for them on the high street last year, we were surprised to find how many restaurant chains weren’t getting even the basics right. Thankfully some restaurants on the block are showing others how it's done. We'd heard from parents that Wahaca, the London-based chain of Mexican street food restaurants, was a hit with kids. Thomasina Miers, cook, campaigner and founder of Wahaca, shares with us her thoughts on catering for the needs of young diners.

20 January 2014 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 6

Out to Lunch with River Cottage

Amy Leech: Fed up with the usual suspects and chips dominating kid’s menus? We definitely are. That's why we're campaigning in partnership with Organix to improve the food and service high street restaurants offer their young guests. Perhaps our chains could learn a thing or two from the independents on the block? In the coming months I’ll be talking to the chefs behind the meals on the kids' menu at restaurants and cafes around the country, to find out their views on catering for families. This month I had the pleasure of catching up with Mark Stavrakakis, Head Chef at River Cottage Canteen in Bristol. Founded by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage Canteen believes strongly in providing nutritious and delicious meals for their youngest critics.

06 December 2013 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 2

What are we feeding our children?

Joanna Lewis: The Government’s new School Food Plan highlighted that nearly 20% of children are now obese by the time they leave primary school, but is improving children’s diets just a job for schools? Restaurants are often quick to say it’s not their responsibility: they’re in the business of serving up the occasional treat and giving parents and children what they want on those occasions.

24 July 2013 | 13 Comments | Recommended by 7

Our favourite restaurant...

Kathie Auton: You know that moment when you, as a kiddie food blogger and passionate supporter of good food for children, hear your 5 year old tell the nation that their favourite restaurant in Burger King*... No? Well I do... Today saw the launch of the results of the Soil Association and Organix's survey into how the nation's chain restaurants are treating our kids and Alex got the opportunity to express his views on BBC Radio 4’s You & Yours.

18 July 2013 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 1

The results are in...

Kathie Auton: There's going to be some back patting and some head hanging this week. The Soil Association and Organix are revealing the results of detailed, undercover research into how the nation's chain restaurants are serving our children. For Out to Lunch, parents have been out there eating, asking questions, spotting highs and lows and jotting it all down. And now we have a league table. The top picks will be proud, but what about the bottom, will they take it on the chin and rethink their policies or will they have the excuses ready?

17 July 2013 | 3 Comments | Recommended by 6

It’s all a matter of context…

Kathie Auton: So, I’ve been out for my two research meals as an undercover eater (or something), one of around 50 parents doing this for the Soil Association’s Out to Lunch campaign. Two very different meals, I should say. Some highs, some lows and a whole lot of food... for thought. A few weeks ago I wrote about the whole eating-out-with-kids game. The Soil Association were recruiting volunteers for their research into what’s on offer in restaurants for our kids. The team of volunteers are now duly recruited and are out there in restaurants with their kids, answering the 13 salient questions and trying to subtlety write things down with coming across all Jay Rayner about it.

14 May 2013 | 2 Comments | Recommended by 3

Eating out with kids

Kathie Auton: I like eating out with my kids. Well, mostly I do. The time when Alex surreptitiously puked on the table at Yo Sushi wasn’t a highlight. Nothing to do with their food I hasten to add, both my kids adore ‘The Moving Food Place’, it’s just that sushi doesn’t sit well on top of a stomach bug... We don’t eat out all the time, because even cheap eating out is expensive, but we have classed it as something ‘important’ and something we are going to spend money on sometimes. There are several justifications, sorry – reasons for this, which leads me on to the question: Why do we eat out with the kids?

14 March 2013 | 2 Comments | Recommended by 9

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