{organizing with style} Restaurant Kit for Eating Out with Little Ones

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Eating out with young children can be a challenge, but Scott and I like to live on the wild side. Of course, it was a little easier when it was just Beckett, but even now that we are a family of four, we still venture out to restaurants on a fairly regular basis. Every once in awhile we end up having to ask for our food to go if the kids decide not to cooperate, but usually Beckett and Cooper are on their best behavior and manage to charm everyone at the surrounding tables.

For me, the biggest challenge when eating out with our kids is remembering to bring all the things we need to make it successfully through a meal. I'm constantly stuffing bibs and kid-sized silverware in my purse on my way out the door, and when we are out running errands and decide to make an unexpected dinner stop, I never have what we need. Until now...

Restaurant kit for eating out with babies and toddlers

**This post contains some affiliate links. If you buy something that I recommend, you pay the same price, but I may receive a small commission.

With two kids under two, our diaper bag is already overflowing, so I wanted something separate and compact to keep us restaurant-ready at all times. My solution was to repurpose a make-up bag to create a "Restaurant Kit." After looking at a few options, I chose an Elle make-up bag from Kohl's. Unfortunately, this bag is no longer available, but I've found you a couple of similar options like this one and this one!


This cute little bag has a few features that make it a winner:  there are a total of four separate zippered pockets - two large ones on the outer edges of the case, as well as one on each side of the center section;  all of the pockets are clear, making it quick and easy to see what's inside; the black and white polka dot pattern with the blue interior appeals to mom without being to girly for my little boys; and finally, the plastic coating on the outside makes it easy to keep clean, even when it's been in sticky little hands.

I filled up our restaurant kit with all the essentials for dining out with an almost two-year old, and an almost six-month old (who is just about to start eating "solid" foods). I'll update the contents of our kit overtime as our needs change, but for now, here's what's inside...

{1} Bibs - Bibs are a must, and when eating out I like bibs that can be easily wiped clean so they don't have to be carried home dirty.  Some of the wipeable bibs out there are fabric with a plastic coating, but I've found those to be problematic because once they are wet, the fabric backing can take a while to dry. I prefer waterproof bibs that can be quickly wiped clean and dry, and a pocket to catch spills is an added bonus.

{2} Kiddy Cutlery - Beckett is getting really good at eating with silverware, but adult sized cutlery can be hard for him handle.  By keeping a set of Gerber Kiddy Cutlery in our restaurant kit we can avoid having him revert to eating with his fingers when we are dining out.

{3} Baby Spoon - Cooper will be starting to eat solids in the next week or two, which means that we'll need to have a baby-sized spoon at the ready for feeding him when we are on the go.  We use the OXO Feeding Spoons at home, but for eating out, I prefer the Gerber Rest Easy Spoons because they have a built-in support that keeps the spoon and the food off of the table and germ free.

{4} Food Pouch Spoon - Pouches of fruit and vegetable blends can be very convenient for kiddos who are old enough to self-fed directly from the pouch, but for a baby pouches require squeezing the food out a bit at a time onto a baby spoon. That's why I was excited to find these Munchkin Click Lock Food Pouch Spoons that screw directly on to the end of the pouch making it much easier to feed a pouch to a baby, especially on the go.

{5} Wet Wipes - Wet wipes are a must for cleaning up little fingers and faces after a dinner out, so I love the conveniently sized packages of Wet Ones Hand Wipes.

{6} Adhesive Table-Toppers - These disposable plastic placemats provide protection from germs on restaurant tables, and they work especially well for toddlers who can't yet be trusted to not toss a restaurant plate on the floor. There are a lot of options out there, but we picked the Neat Solutions Elmo Table-Toppers because Beckett loves Sesame Street. They came in a plastic travel-case, but I opted to just put a few at a time in our Restaurant Kit, and I store the extras in the case at home.

{7} Highlights Hello Magazine - My boys have a subscription to this great magazine for babies and young toddlers. We are excited to receive a new Highlights Hello magazine in the mail each month, and they make an excellent addition to our restaurant kit because of their small size and their durability! Each issue is filled with stories and activities, and the pages are made of a material that can't be torn and can be easily wiped clean. The magazine is perfect for providing pre-dinner entertainment.

{8} Twistable Crayons - While many restaurants have crayons for kids, they often only give you three or four colors which can be a frustration to a toddler who is learning his colors and wants whatever color he asks for.  I like the Crayola Twistable Crayons because they require no peeling or sharpening, and because they are durable in the hands of a little boy who often snaps regular crayons while coloring because he doesn't yet know his own strength. Note: If you live in a very hot climate, Crayola Twistable Colored Pencils {no sharpening necessary} might be a better option if you plan to leave the restaurant kit in the car.

{9} Coloring Pages - Most restaurants have kids menus with mazes and other games and activities, but Beckett is not yet old enough for much more than some spirited scribbling. Since Sesame Street is a favorite in our house, I downloaded a variety of coloring pages from the Sesame Street website here and here. I simply used the save option to download the coloring pages to a folder on my computer (so I can print more as needed), and then I printed them each at a reduced size (half page instead of full page) so they would fit easily in our Restaurant Kit. Parenting Magazine online also offers great Sesame Street themed activity pages perfect for older toddlers and young kids.

Now that you have all the details about what we keep in our Restaurant Kit, let me show you what it looks like inside the repuposed make-up bag.





We learned from some very smart parent friends of ours to always order Beckett's food as soon as we are seated, even if the adults at the table need time to peruse the menu.  This way, his food arrives at the table quicker, requiring less patience on his part. But even so, sometimes we need to have a few snacks on hand to get us through the wait.  Luckily, even with all of our dining-out essentials packed inside the Restaurant Kit, there is still enough extra space for a favorite snacks (current favorites include granola bars and fruit strips).


It's so nice knowing that all of these items are neatly packed and ready to go if and when we decide to eat dinner out.  We've already had a couple of opportunities to give the newly assembled Restaurant Kit a test run, and so far, it's working great!  So well, in fact, that I made a second identical kit so that we can have one in each car at all times.


Need a restaurant kit, or know someone who does? Be sure to pin the image below so that you can find this suggested list of contents when the time is right!

Restaurant Kit for Dining Out with Kids

UPDATE: I've received a lot of requests for an update regarding what we keep in our restaurant kit now that our boys are a couple years older, so be sure to check out my follow up post: Restaurant Kit Version 2.0: The Preschooler Edition!



27 comments :

  1. I love it! Thanks for the great tips! I always end up doing a mad dash of stuffing restaurant items in the diaper bag before we go; it's worse when we are staying at Nana's and have to find where we put all the stuff in our packed bag. One thing I bring too is a child (unbreakable) plate because my little guy likes to grab his plate and I'd feel terrible if he broke one at our favorite restaurant. I've had waitresses thank me for this.

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  2. Oh I looove the twistable crayons! I've never heard of those but need to get them for my 2 year old asap because she peels the wrappers off the regular crayons and makes such a mess!

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  3. Such a great idea! Thanks for sharing!

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  4. Hmmmm...I was thinking sedatives -- if they didn't work on the kids, they'd work on me.

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    1. LOL,Marty! That might be a good addition. In a child proof bottle, of course ;)

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  5. I absolutely love this and it's too bad I saw it AFTER our dining out experience that didn't go so well. I have a 3-year old and a 1-year old and lets just say we were the table getting glares from other patrons. I also have a blog and featured this idea on there with a link to this page. I know a ton of mommy friends will love this idea as well! I am off to find a makeup bag and create my kit! Thanks!

    www.mayhemwithminis.blogspot.com

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  6. What an amazing idea! How creative! I have a 3 1/2 yo and a 6months old on my hands and I bet this would come in handy. It's especially good that the kid don't get entertained by an electronic device. Now I gotta see if I can find those make up bag or something similar.

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  7. I really want to make one of these for my daughter and I love the bag with its book like compartments. Can't find one or anything similar. Any ideas...? I'm from the UK. Thanks.

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    1. I'll bet you can order them from Kohls.com...

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    2. Sara and Leahy, It looks like Kohls no longer sells that same bag (BUMMER!), but this one on Amazon looks to be pretty similar and it comes in lots of color options: http://www.amazon.com/Makeup-Case-Pod-Toiletry-Lollipops/dp/B002VVOEFS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1433184709&sr=8-1&keywords=elle+makeup+bag I hope that helps!

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    3. Target has very similar bags with really cute designs. They are about $25. Little pricey but worth it. Plus it will get a lot of use

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  9. Now that your kids are older what is in your bag?

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    1. That's a great question, Emily! I just updated it recently, so I'll do a new blog post about the updated contents some time in the coming weeks! Thanks for asking!

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    2. Waiting for the update - love to take my grands out for a treat but it becomes stressful for all involved and definitely ends up not being a treat

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    3. I promise the update will be coming soon... :)

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    4. Sorry it took me so long to provide an update, but I just posted today about the current contents of our restaurant kit now that the boys are older. The updated post has over 20 suggestions! http://www.blueistyleblog.com/2016/01/UpdatedRestaurantKitEatingOutKids.html

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  10. Where can a bag comparable to that be bought now?

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    1. Check out these at Amazon - they are pretty similar: http://www.amazon.com/Makeup-Case-Pod-Toiletry-Lollipops/dp/B002VVOEFS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1433184709&sr=8-1&keywords=elle+makeup+bag

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  11. Try adding those little tubes of play dough to your bag. My kids love them and they really aren't mess at all. Keeps them occupied and quite. 😄

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  12. 32 years ago my kids had a "busy bag", a cloth bag filled with quiet activities that would keep them busy in the car or restaurant. They could only play with these toys when we were out so it kept their attention. Prizes from the cereal box, MacDonalds etc. are free and fun. When my daughter heard a child cry in the restaurant she wanted to know why they weren't playing with their busy bag.

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  13. My kids are older, but both have ADHD and have trouble waiting. The kids menus on placemats work for a short time, but I have a pencil case I keep in my purse with dice and Yahtzee scoring cards pencils and a pencil sharpener that holds the shavings. I also have small pads of paper for writing notes, playing tic tac toe etc. Most often they play math games with the dice. They roll the dice and add them up to see who can get the highest number. I have also taken magnetic playsets with us. These keep my youngest very busy as he can continually change the story he tells.

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  14. Awesome idea, good for baby shower gift for mom, and birthday gifts.

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  15. I'm needing to make one of these for my 2 yr old, but I'm having a hard time finding the bag. Any suggestions??

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    1. Here are some very similar bags available on Amazon (affiliate links): http://amzn.to/2anc2N5
      http://amzn.to/2ae7NUu
      http://amzn.to/2anceMj

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    2. Thank you. I'll check those out

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