Family meals survey

We conducted a survey into some of the challenges that modern family mealtimes present. Here's what you told us.

leftover food

Eat what you like vs throwing food away:

  • 86% of parents throw away part of their child's main meal
  • 12% of parents have a rule that their children eat everything on their plate
  • 66% of parents finish off their children's leftovers
  • 48% of parents bribe their children to eat vegetables
  • 54% of parents hide vegetables in sauces
  • 55% of parents cook multiple meals to please various family members
  • 40% of parents cut off the crusts for their children 

Table manners are still an issue, but some of the battles have changed:

  • 61% of parents have a 'no texting at the table' rule
  • 85% of parents who own a smartphone ban their children from using them at the table (but only 44% extend that ban to themselves)
  • 89% say no talking with your mouth full      

Mumsnetters say they're the parent most likely to cook the family meal:

  • 72% said they were the main cook in their family 
  • Just 18% said they shared cooking duties equally with their partner
  • Ready meals and takeaways were the exception as 76% of parents said they prepared the main family meal from scratch almost every day. 

Weekends remain the days most families eat together:

  • Almost one in four parents doesn't eat with their children on weekdays
  • 77% of parents usually or always eat with their children at the weekend
  • 28% of parents said that working hours prevented them eating as a family

family meals infographic

Financial pressures hit the weekly shop:

  • 45% of parents said they now spent more on food than a year ago
  • 1 in 3 regularly used vouchers to save money on their shopping
  • 89% of parents spend more than £50 a week on food with 33% spending more than £100 a week. 

Justine Roberts, Mumsnet CEO and co-founder, says: "Parents often go to huge lengths to lovingly cater for their family's food tastes but it doesn't seem to be stopping the waste. Very few of us insist on our children finishing their meals and instead the majority of parents end up polishing off the leftovers." 


Family Meals Survey Infographic

We've created an infographic based on the survey findings which you're welcome to share. Click on the image (right) to see the full image.


The survey was open to all Mumsnet users, conducted between 10-14th January 2013. Sample size 1,021, 98% of the sample were females. The data is not weighted.

Last updated: almost 3 years ago