Eating out with a toddler – essential gear
We have had a lot of fun eating out this summer! I wanted to share with you what we feel is the perfect collection of items to bring with us to help each meal go smoothly. We always have this bag packed and in the cupboard waiting, so if we think there is a chance we may eat out, I snag it and pop it into my purse. More details on each item in the bag are below, along with information on where to buy them. In addition to grabbing this meal bag I also always have her water bottle with us and some toys (a tiny notebook and a few crayons in a little baggy is a fixture in my purse!).
Essential gear for meals out with a toddler
1. Small, easy to clean bag to hold it all
I used to use a gallon zip lock bag to tote all these things around but always felt bad about it since I would have to replace it after a few uses. Pretty wasteful. Then while looking for lunch bags for my daughter for school I came across this one from Mimi the Sardine (also sold on Amazon). It is perfect for this purpose. The perfect size to pop into my purse (a largish purse – I am a mom!). The handles make it easy to fish out when needed or hang on our stroller. There is enough room to hold everything in the picture, including the addition of a bib if you need one. I sometimes also add one or two small containers of food if we feel we may need so supplement our meal (like blueberries or cherry tomatoes). It is made from organic cotton coated with a water-based acrylic coating (not PVC) making it easy to wipe clean when needed, you can even throw it into the washing machine! My daughter also loves the design and it is a good size for her to use on her own.
2. Plastic plate with lid
Now that our daughter it 2.5 we tend to often use a small plate from whatever restaurant we’re at. But sometimes (especially depending on her mood), having our own plate that will not break and is low to the table is a lot easier. The key thing is that this one has a lid. So the plate won’t dirty the bag after a meal. It is also handy to bring home leftovers in. It looks like Sassy no long makes the plates we have for meals out, but with the boom in great eco-friendly travel food containers there are many other choices or you can stick with just using the restaurant plates, pack a foldable placemat if your child needs something low or you’re worried they may drop the plate. I sometimes throw a small zip lock bag in should we have leftovers to bring home. I feel it is less wasteful than the packaging restaurants tend to use.
3. Kid sized silverware with container
Our daughter can use restaurant forks and spoons, but having a set her size does make it a bit easier for her to eat. And if you have a toddler you know, whatever you can do to make eating easier and fun for them…you do it! Our daughter loves knowing this is her special set and she can take them out and put them back herself. I love this set because it has a case, which means, no digging around for them on the bottom of the bag and they have a nice home to keep them away from other things in the bag once they’ve been used. We picked up this Hello Kitty set, along with a couple others, at a couple Japanese shops in San Francisco but you can also order it online here. I also just discovered Sugarbooger products by ORE (also sold on Amazon), they make cute sets with cases too. I like them because they are cute and do not have any commercial characters on them. I just ordered a set from Amazon and will update my blog on them after they arrive and we can test them out.
4. Reusable napkin
We are trying to be as “green” as possible and are switching to reusable napkins. I found a fantastic shop on Etsy, down home amy, that makes wonderful kid sized napkins with the cutest silk screened images. They are soft, absorbent and machine washable. I really can’t say enough good things about them or the store. The owner is super nice and easy to work with. She even added our daughter’s name to a few napkins so we can use them with her school lunches…since everything she brings to school needs to be labeled.
5. Pairing knife with cover
We often have to cut food for Sofie, and sometimes the restaurant knives will do. But there are many cases where we need something sharper (like when we cut avocado maki pieces in half) or when you’re dealing with, gasp, plasticware. One you start carrying it around you’ll find you’re using it all the time, for meals or snacks for your child, and even you. Super handy for cutting apples on the go.We found this great one at Williams Sonoma, online it is sold as a set of 3 but we bought them individually at a store. You can find similar knives many places now. The important thing is that is has a cover over the blade so it is safe swimming around in the bag and you can cover it to keep the bag clean once it has been used. Just be sure to keep it away from the little ones since they could pull the cover off.
Here are all the shopping links for easy reference:
- Mimi the Sardine – lunch bags, they also have an awesome apron perfect for arts and crafts
- Sanrio online shop – for kids silverware (characters like Hello Kitty)
- Sugarbooger products by ORE – for kids silverware, and other cool things!
- down home amy – for reusable napkins, and really great reusable snack bags
- Williams Sonoma – for pairing knife with cover
In case you are wondering, I have no affiliation with any of these companies. I just wanted to share what has worked well for us!