Sydney, August 2019: New research released today reveals a staggering 73% of Aussie parents cook more than one dinner meal to cater for fussy eaters. Half (49%) prepare at least two dinner meals and more than one in ten (11%) cook up to three dinners for the whole family on a weekly basis.
The research, commissioned with Pureprofile by global leading meal kit provider, HelloFresh, found that 30% of Aussie parents often or always eat different meals to the kids. As a way to avoid dinnertime drama, 85% of parents cook the same meals regularly because they know the kids will eat it without a fuss. For one in four Aussies families, this involves cooking from a repertoire of five-six meals per week, but as many as 28% of Aussie families are restricted to the same three-four meals each week!
Interestingly, there seems to be some commonalities in the foods and flavours kids across Australia dislike. 56% of parents report that struggle to get their children to eat include spicy food, 36% say their children don’t like anything bitter and a shocking 35% of kids refuse to eat anything green! On the other end of the spectrum, it’s no surprise that far fewer parents report challenges in getting their kids to eat anything sweet (3%), salty (8%) or served with sauce (18%).
Leading Flavour and Sensory Scientist Dr. Heather Smyth, says it’s normal for kids to reject food they haven’t tried before, but exposing kids to different foods and diversifying their tastes at a young age is important, as it sets them up for healthier eating for the rest of their life. Interestingly, Smyth explains that children are born with a natural aversion to unfamiliar foods and it’s important that they develop healthy food habits early in life. She also explains that acceptance of food is far more complex than just taste and flavour and many environmental and behavioural factors that can play into a child's food likes or dislikes.
“My advice to parents with fussy eaters is to hang in there! Don’t let the first experience of rejection dictate your dinner routine. Keep exposing your child to a broad range of healthy foods, as it can take several exposures before a child will even try something new. Remember it's the lack of familiarity that is the bigger problem not the taste. A healthy diet is one that’s composed of a variety of different foods, especially plant foods, and this is essential in ensuring your child's future health, growth and development. A great way to encourage good eating habits is by getting your kids involved in the kitchen, whether that be with the meal selection or the preparation. This way they will have a far more positive and creative association with food and be more willing to try new foods sooner.”
Given that this survey found that more than half of parents (59%) worry that their children are not getting adequate nutrients for their health and wellbeing, it’s key that parents get the support and knowledge they need to change behaviours at home without having to resort to bribery! While some parents believe it’s just kids being kids, more than 88% of parents resort to some form of bribery to get their kids to eat dinner, with the most common tricks being; telling the kids they only have to try a little bit (53%) and offering dessert as a reward(39%).
Father of three and Founder and CEO of HelloFresh Australia, Tom Rutledge, believes meal kits provide a simple solution for families with fussy eaters: “Creating a meal everyone will enjoy is really important to parents. A lot of life lessons can be learned around the dinner table. From looking at the results of our survey, parents are spending extra hours making multiple meals in order to feed the entire family and are still met with resistance from fussy eaters.
“Dinner time should be an opportunity to expand your kids’ food horizons, helping them discover new foods they love, rather than feeding them the same meals from a small repertoire. HelloFresh has a team of professional cooks who listen to both parents and kids who use HelloFresh to understand what the whole family want from their evening meal and develop recipes that both adults and kids enjoy so everyone can enjoy the one meal.”
After years of gathering customer feedback and analysing data, HelloFresh has created a Polarising Food Index to help inform recipe creation to ensure customers serve up crowd pleasers at dinner. Common polarising ingredients include black beans, spinach & rocket, eggplant and lentils.