Five chain-restaurant trends that should continue in 2013

Saved by the Bell.
Saved by the Bell.

This last year has brought us some terrible chain restaurant trends, including serving up sodium-soaked "healthy" meals; shrinking dessert sizes and charging the same prices; peddling fancy cocktails with more ingredients than a hair-relaxing solution; and restaurants labeling everything "natural." But despite the obvious failures, 2012 also produced five trends that have some juice -- let's hope they stay hydrated in 2013.

Here's our list of five chain-restaurant trends that should continue in 2013 -- because we can't serve up big glasses of Hater-Aid all the time.

See also: - Five food trends that need to die with 2012 - District Meats exec chef Jeff Russell on food trends, Paula Deen and spring - Real or Fake? Eleven food trends that may or may not exist

It's a bundle in the neighborhood.
It's a bundle in the neighborhood.

3. Health-friendly kid's meals.

For all the talk over the last few years about making healthier restaurant meals for kids, the idea got a massive boost from Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" initiative, and now we are seeing more lean meats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy and less emphasis on sugary drinks and snacks than ever before. Sure, the First Lady has taken plenty of flak from folks opposed to perceived "nanny state" politicking over what their kids are eating, but chain restaurants like McDonald's, Burger King, Chili's, Denny's, IHOP, Joe's Crab Shack, El Pollo Loco and Outback Steakhouse have made significant changes to the traditional triumvirate of chicken fingers/pizza/mac & cheese. These and other spots serving up nutritious eats for the kiddos have tapped into a trend that they shouldn't abandon even if the politics change, because even parents who don't have the healthiest diets still want better for their children.

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