A really happy meal... 10 tips for eating out.

There are some people who will never understand why we avoid eating OUT with food allergic preschoolers. Want to have lunch with us? Come over ~ pack all your food, or pick something up on the way. What? It's not convenient when eating lunch requires preparation and thought? Ditto. BUT, sometimes we have to cave, especially for family.

10 tips for a really happy meal when eating out with food allergic preschoolers:

1. Bring your EpiPen or other emergency preparation.
2. Bring baby wipes to clean your child's seat and table area and/or
3. Consider using one of these cool TableToppers.
4. Bring containers, utensils and cups, etc. I like these, because the compartments don't leak:
5. Pack your child's -portable- favorites.
6. Try NOTHING new while dining out.
7. Bring a few plastic bags (ex: ziploc) for extra food, messy spoons, etc. Just stick stuff in the bags and sort it out/clean up AT HOME later.
8. Remind guests/child that they cannot eat anything that doesn't come from home.
9. Then, drop it. Don't spend the meal talking about food allergies. Answer questions directly, without storytelling. It will be on your mind throughout the entire meal, but try to relax and enjoy your company.
10. Pack a surprise for your child like one of these $3 Playmobil toys*. (*Whoa, $5 shipping? Yikes. There is a small toy store near me that sells Playmobil toys ~ usually several of these are on sale for $3 each. They're quiet, don't roll off the table, take a few minutes to put together, encourage imagination and the entertainment lasts through the meal. If it seems excessive to pack a new toy for your child ~ don't. For us, we eat out rarely. It's a special treat. And, we're not spending any money on the restaurant kid's meal.)

Any other suggestions? What makes your meals out manageable?