For most parents, meal times at home are a challenge enough, and the thought of getting all your little imps fed in a foreign country, with a language barrier, where the term high chair is subjective, half the menu consists of items you may never have recognized as food before, and on a budget may cause nightmares and terror.
Caveat: One of the absolute best decisions we made with our twins, as opposed to our first son, was to feed them what we eat. They never had baby food. Not a drop. They eat what we eat, just cut up smaller. Though sometimes we season their food, or sauce it differently, as babies tend to not like things like suicide wings or spicy Thai curry. This has made it tremendously easier to take them anywhere and get them fed.
This can be an excellent option to help you maintain a healthy diet while travelling, save a little money, and save some time. We have, on numerous occasions, hit a market, picked up some bread, cheese, fruit, and wine and found a public space to sit and eat. In fact, my wife and I once had bread, meat, and some exceptionally stinky cheese in our exceptionally small hotel in Paris and it was one of the best meals we have ever eaten. (note: I highly suggest not keep stinky cheeses in confined spaces. The room was a little ripe by the end of that week.) The challenge with little ones is the lack of containment. We have developed the art, and it’s an art, of feeding and containing twins while managing to eat an occasional bite of food ourselves.
Before my wife and I had kids, or when we were with our oldest, this was pretty much always the go to source of lunch. Crepes in France, pizza in Italy, or hot dogs pretty much anywhere were always on the menu. With babies, it became more challenging. There was nowhere to contain them, they couldn’t really hold their own food, and street food doesn’t tend to come cut into miniscule bites. As they have gotten older though, this has become a little easier.
In terms of experiencing local cuisine, while saving money, there are few better bargains than dinning out for lunch rather than dinner. When travelling with kids though there are considerations that have to be made. Is there something on the menu the little imps will go for? Do they have high chairs? If not, are the chairs even suitable for really small children? (That one might seem like an odd factor, but we have seen all sorts or restaurants with big open holes in the backs of chairs little ones would fall right through.) Restaurants tend to also take time out of your busy adventure and sightseeing time, in the middle of the day and are not as quick as some of the other choices I have outlined.
I know exactly what you are going to say…”I came all the way to wherever, I am not going to McD!” Well, kids like it and they give away toys. Having a Big Mac once in a while won’t kill you and there are plenty of places we have been where you can grow tired of the local delicacies. As an example, we got pretty tired of souvlaki and Greek salad in Greece, Tajines and kabobs in Morocco, and sausages in Germany. If it keeps everyone happy, a burger, pizza, or similar is not the worst you could do in some places. I always tell people I have pictures of us eating pizza in every country we’ve visited as a family. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
Much like when I reviewed options for breakfast ( Feeding Hungry Kids, Babies, and Parents While Traveling: Breakfast ), your options are plentiful for having lunch while out and about for the day. All these options have advantages and disadvantages but in an ideal world, during a trip, you will be able to strike a balance. We tend to rely heavily on street food and picnics, with some fast food mixed in. If we are going to eat in a restaurant at lunch time, it is likely because the weather is poor, there are limited other options, or everyone just needs a break to sit for a while. If we are going to go to a restaurant, it tends to be for dinner in spite of generally costing more, if we don’t feel like cooking in our AirBnB or we don’t have access to a kitchen.
If you have any tips for feeding your hungry family during your travels, leave a comment below or hit me up on social media.
Happy and safe travels.