Family members eating different meals most evenings

The days where families would dig into one shared meal around the dinner table are coming to an end. Instead, new research from Bakkavor, the UK’s leading fresh prepared (convenience) food supplier, found that almost half (46%) of families with children under 18 eat different meals to one another most nights of the week (4 or more meals each week). One in seven families (14%) admitted that they never all eat the same thing at mealtimes.
The results showed that on these occasions where different meals were prepared, the average household was preparing three different meals each mealtime.
Bakkavor asked a nationally representative sample of 1,520 families about their mealtime habits.
Specifically, the main reasons for families not eating the same meal included:
  • Picky eaters: Nearly half of respondents (44%) said they had to prepare additional meals because different members of the household will not eat the same things as everyone else. Interestingly, for households with children over 18 living at home, this figure actually increased to 49%.
  • Rise of the veggies: With the proportion of vegans in the UK increasing by 40% in the last year (and quadrupling between 2014-19), one in five families pointed to dietary requirements limiting them from eating the same meal. Vegans (48%) and Vegetarians (50%) were the most likely to eat different meals to others most nights of the week, compared with 32% of pescatarians, and 31% of flexitarians.
  • Food fads: from Meat-free Mondays to Clean Eating, food fads come and go prompting different dishes on the table for 16% of family households, according to the research.
  • Different time zones: 16% of families with kids under 18 say they are eating different things as food is prepared at completely different times, depending on their appetite. Among families with children over 18, this rises to 24% of households.
  • Work hard, eat later: A fifth of respondents who found their household eating different meals in the week put it down to members of the family working into the evening (19%), with a further 9% naming school and university work as a key factor.
  • Night on the tiles: with no restrictions any more, social life was a reason that 16% of family households ate different meals. Similarly, 12% pointed to sports events and clubs.
Mike Edwards, Chief Operating Officer UK, at Bakkavor commented: “With the continued rise of different diets, changing tastes, varied work schedules and busy lives, it is unsurprisingly to see that the face of mealtimes is changing and evolving. However, this need not be a negative. It is great to see that families are catering for varied tastes, lifestyles and choices whilst sitting down for the main meal of the day, allowing for a more modern take on a traditional family dinner. Despite the new pressures on time we are all experiencing now lockdown is over, it is possible that everyone can eat well, appealing to all sorts of tastes and diets at the same time.
“At Bakkavor, we strive to bring ease and convenience to our mealtimes, allowing for families to share mealtimes together whilst also having their needs met. We are supplying the meal options that mean families can enjoy their meals together with the assurance that every individual will be catered for.”
Mealtimes in an average week spent together when there are members of the household eating different things
Reasons why different members of a household eat different things at mealtimes

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