Understanding the New Dining Priorities of Millennial Families

Posted by: Ilana Bodker

Gone are the days when children had no say in restaurant selection. Millennial parents not only allow their children a say in dining location, but according to Service Management Group research, they even prefer their kids make the choice. However, this health-conscious, flavor-seeking generation isn’t completely abandoning their own food priorities. When dining out, Millennials with families have their own set of dining desires, and they aren’t planning to compromise their own, or their children’s, meal quality. Here are several of the top-rated considerations when it comes to appealing to Millennial families.


At 88 percent, almost all Millennial mothers believe nutrition is the highest priority when planning their children’s lunches. Foods labeled “natural,” “locally-sourced” or “organic” attract parents seeking to embrace a healthy lifestyle for their children, especially as one out of every three American children today is obese.

“When marketing to millennial moms versus older generations, brands should make sure to consider and emphasize nutritional value in messaging and product development rather than price,” Elizabeth Scherle, president and co-founder of Influenster, told Adweek.

Millennial parents desire authenticity and transparency in product labels, advertising and ingredients so that they can be informed on what they’re consuming and successfully live out a high-quality diet.

Options & Customization

Millennials have a reputation for adventurous dining experiences and an appetite for novel flavor combinations. Meanwhile, you couldn’t pay a child to stray from their precious grilled cheese or chicken nugget option when the alternatives are spaghetti squash lasagna or teriyaki quinoa. Menus should present a wide range of options from basic to exotic in attempting to appeal to the modern family with a diverse pallet.

Fast-casual restaurants like Panera win with Millennial families because they offer a wide selection of assorted clean-ingredient items like soups, salads, sandwiches, a kids’ menu and even a “You Pick Two” option of combining smaller portions of multiple entrees. This allows the consumer to customize not only the type of food, but the portion size and flavor.

A Brand Lifestyle

Young parents don’t want to eat at just any restaurant with a tasty entree — the lifestyle that the brand or restaurant promotes plays a role, too. Traits like the company’s ethics and sustainability have begun to make their way into parental considerations as well. Even in the baby food market, a brand’s values and the lifestyle they promote play heavily into purchasing decisions.

Organic baby food startup Yumi is on a mission is to provide convenience, healthy ingredients and transparency in a market that’s only just beginning to bloom. Though significantly pricier than traditional baby food brands (meals range from $6.07 to $8.33 each), Yumi delivers meals for infants straight to your door made with trendy, healthy ingredients. For some Millennial parents, the high-end cost is worth the nutrition benefits and extra time they can spend with their little one.

Millennials with kids are adapting their dining habits to family life and it’s up to brands to capitalize on this movement toward wholesome, personalized cuisine. 

To learn more, check out our Millennial Parenthood Brief here!

About Ilana Bodker

Ilana's background in publishing combined with a lifelong love of writing led her to her interest in advertising and marketing. She served as Junior Editor for Jeff Fromm and Angie Read's upcoming "Marketing to Gen...See Ilana's full bio.