Kids' banquets generally are held for sports awards programs and for religious and organizational events. Banquet menu ideas for children 12 years of age and under reflect several basic criteria. Kids' buffets, served by staff, are quickly accomplished. Wholesome foods, correctly portioned, are good for the children and allow the cooking staff to calculate exact quantities needed. It is important to serve healthy, basic and popular dishes. Ask parents for food allergy alerts and do not serve foods containing nuts.
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Kids' Budget Buffet Banquet
Even if a budget-minded approach is taken, quality and quantity of food need not suffer. Banquet organizers often shop for the lowest quality, least expensive and consequently most unhealthy foods available. The rationale is that the food is for kids who don't care. Instead, consider serving foods that you enjoy and wouldn't mind eating yourself. A menu can include turkey hot dogs, usually no more expensive than red meat hot dogs. A grilled turkey hot dog dressed with condiments is difficult to distinguish from a red meat hot dog anyway. Lean hamburgers are an alternative. Either can be served on whole grain buns. Pre-portioned cups of potato salad or cut fruit begins the meal and hot macaroni and cheese and green beans serve as good side dishes. Desserts can include a choice of pre-portioned pudding or gelatin cups with fruit and a selection of cookies. Beverages such as water, nonsugared flavored punches or diet soft drinks work well.
Kids' Seated and Plated Buffet Banquet
A seated and plated kids' banquet is generally a more formal affair. The menu is based on foods that are basic and well accepted by kids. Some kids will not eat unfamiliar foods and others will not eat certain basic foods. Two meat items, a starch and vegetable, along with rolls and dessert offer enough choices for the child to enjoy all or some of the food served. An orange gelatin salad with carrots can lead into the main course of breaded and baked chicken tenderloin served with ranch dip on the side and a small meat and cheese calzone. For side dishes consider mashed potatoes and gravy in cups and a baked casserole of fine-chopped vegetables and cheese topped with bread crumbs. Whole wheat rolls and apple brown betty for dessert will work well.
Kids' Outdoor Banquet
This type of banquet works well for informal organizations such as sports teams and their families and can be held in a nearby park. It may be necessary to bring extra tables and barbecue grills. Kids begin with macaroni salad with diced cheese and potato salad. Main dish ideas include freshly grilled chicken and “make your own” tacos from a table set up with all of the ingredients. Vegetable selections can include buttered corn-on-the-cob and baked beans. Desserts and beverages such as chilled watermelon, ice cream, tea, bottled water, lemonade or diet soft drinks give everyone something to choose from.