You’ve planned for months and the day has finally arrived. The family, kids included, are excited and ready for an epic Asian adventure. If you’re anything like most parents, you have all your bases covered. The first aid kit is packed with a year’s supply of everything. Passports, check. Clothes, check. Mosquito and sun cream, check. Smooth sailing ahead!
What Kind of Food Can Kids Eat in Asia
On landing, you find your shuttle to your accommodation, and all is right with the world. The kids are happy and nibbling on the leftover snacks from the flight. After a few hours rest, you’ll all be ready to explore the markets, and get a taste of what the local culture has to offer. Or will you?
When Grilled Cheese Is Life, What Kind of Food Can Kids Eat in Asia
Many a parent will understand, having a child that’s a fussy eater, does not an easy time make, especially in a world where grilled cheese is life. So how do you keep your child alive and nourished in Asia, and ensure you have a wonderful holiday? The key ingredients for kids, and especially toddlers, are healthy sleep routines, exercise, and quality food. Here are a few tips on how to plan for meal time, where to find acceptable sustenance, and what to avoid.
For the Love of Fruit
The most wonderful thing about Asia is the constant and abundant supply of fruit. If this doesn’t invite a nod of approval, then little else will. Outside of the 7-Eleven band-aid fix, fruit is a daily staple that will ensure the kids get in some of the healthy stuff. Bananas and apples are easy to find, and then there are some more exotic options. Mango’s, litchis, dragon fruit and mangostines, are all sweet, delicious and nutritious.
Thank You 7-Eleven
You have travelled to the East to experience and discover the unknown, granted 7-Eleven is not going to check that box. What it does however provide, is food that your toddler can understand. Cereal, milk, yoghurt, eggs and bread. Peanut butter, cookies and instant noodles. Who would have thought that so much unhealthy food could make a parent so happy.
It would be wonderful to read a list of local foods that the kids will love, but picky eaters take time to warm up to new flavors and textures, even if it is an irresistible Pad Thai.
Hotels, Restaurants & Fast-food
Most hotels and restaurants cater for thier Western clientele, so if you have breakfast, lunch and dinner included in your stay, count yourself lucky. You will have a wide selection to choose from, grilled cheese sandwiches included, and failing that, you call fall back on burgers and fries.
If the kids are getting tired of a limited selection, you may want to explore some other options like McDonalds, KFC and Burger King. Yes, I said it. These, and similar chains, have made it to all corners of the planet. If you would rather not fight the fight, and choose to take the path of least resistance, there you have it.
Malls & Food Courts
For those of you who have opted to go the self-catering option, welcome to the world of food courts. At the top of the list of incredible variety and quality, has to be the malls of Kuala Lumpur. Here, you will without a doubt find the perfect fit for your children. Even if every single member of the family has a unique and discerning taste, demands will be met.
A shining example is the Food Court in the center of the Petronus Mall. Whatever it is you want, you shall find. Pizza’s, smoothies, gourmet burgers, soups, pasta, sushi, and the amazing local dish of Nasi Lemac for Mom and Dad to feel adventurous.
With a child who only wanted Spaghetti Bolognese for a time, we became regulars. Prices are so cheap and the portions are massive, so you will eat very well.
Much like 7-Eleven, you will find all the basics at the more up-market chains, and then some. Depending on where you find yourself in Asia, the more modern the city, the larger the selection of imported treats. And with a hungry child in tow, you’ll be happy to pay the higher prices.
If you venture to more rural parts of Asia, options are more limited and become more market-like.
Did someone say Street Food?
Chances are, you will not find your ultimate food solution here. Street food is delicious, but its level of “exotic” will have most fussy eating kids in tears. Unfamiliar shapes and colors, insects abound, and the seafood has legs, need we say more?
However… there are exceptions. A hands down winner was boiled of fried chicken with rice. Having lived in Thailand for a few months with a toddler, this non spicy meal was a firm favorite. Chicken on a stick, or kebabs, also made the “Yes” list.
Egg fried rice and fish cakes are also winners worth trying out on your food connoisseur. Just hold the chili sauce. For desert, find a coconut ice-cream stand or the pancake lady, an awesome treat after dinner.
When landing in a new place with children, a hunt for food comes with the territory. For short stays you can make do between fast-food and a few other basics. For longer stays, you and your child will need to explore a little outside of your comfort zone, unless you have family sending you regular care packages. That will work too.
Hunger can be a powerful motivation to try new things, but let’s hope you don’t need to resort to starvation and the accompanying tears.
Bianca, her husband, and now 8 year old son, have travelled Asian over the years for several months at a time. Unfamiliar tastes and textures initially presented thier fair amount of challenges when travelling with a toddler, but the end result is a well rounded eater, who’s not afraid to try most things. Food with legs is still off the menu, and grilled cheese sandwiches remain a firm favorite.