I always think that McDonald’s is a bit of a family institution.
I’ve been going with my own parents ever since I was a tot – special treats only, once I even had a Ronald McDonald birthday there! – and it’s somewhere I have been happy to take my own kids as they’ve grown older.
As an adult, there’s something really comforting about McDonald’s. There’s always room in my life for a Quarter Pounder with Cheese meal (yum) and you can’t beat a Sausage and Egg McMuffin meal after a night on the tiles. Plus, there’s something oddly satisfying about visiting McD’s in foreign climbs, knowing your burger is going to taste exactly the same as it does at home: Laura Jane Williams and I ended our first drinks meeting last year at McDonald’s in Bangkok and it was brilliant.
So last week I was really excited to mosey my two along to one of our local restaurants to sit down with the manager of the branch and learn more about McDonald’s healthier choices for kids. Take a look at what went down, as well as what was in our amazing two foot happy meal box, below:
Now, I’m a bit of a stickler for the healthy choices when we dine out: I try to encourage Elfie and Hux to choose carrot sticks over chips for example, and they’re usually happy to plump for organic milk over anything else (I’m a mean old mummy who’s never let them try fizzy pop). Which is why I was happy to discover that less than a quarter of all Happy meals are now sold with a fizzy drink, and that an increasing number of children are asking for the carrots (Elfie likes to dip hers in ketchup…) and apples in their meals.
The amount of salt in a typical Happy Meal has also been reduced by 47% over the last few years (based on Chicken McNuggets, Fries and a Fruit Shoot now and in 2003), with saturated fat reduced by 83% due t0 changes to cooking oil between 1992 and 2010. The beef is 100% British and Irish and the chicken 100% white chicken breast – this documentary is a fascinating, funny and impressive insight into where McDonald’s source their chicken and potatoes for their UK meals.
I’m starting to think that McDonald’s isn’t the unhealthy ‘special treat’ restaurant we all imagined!
Now, if you mention ‘McDonalds’ to Hux, the sparky four year old, the first thing he will say is, “can I have a toy please, mummy?” and that’s another thing I love about taking the children there. They never get bored because they’re gifted with a little something that’s always interesting and relevant to them, whether that’s the troll toys all their friends are talking about at school or a Diary of a Wimpy Kid book. Speaking of which, McDonald’s have given away 55 million books in promotions in their Happy Meals since 2012: isn’t that an amazing number?
There’s also the added bonus of the interactive play areas (yeah yeah, I may or may not get involved with these too) as well as the banks of tablets with games to play. And free wifi for the grown-ups!
Needless to say, our visit to McDonalds last week was a resounding success. I left feeling like I’d had a wonderful insight into McDonald’s efforts into keeping our kids healthy and Elfie and Hux had not just a lovely supper but a very enthusiastic play.
McDonald’s: we will, as always, be back.
I’m working with McDonald’s and BritMums in a paid relationship, to challenge misconceptions about what’s in a Happy Meal and about the changes McDonald’s has made across its menu over the last 15 years. Find out more here
Happy Meals are served after 10:30am