Family enjoying meal

Family enjoying meal

What do you do with your child’s leftovers or any food they don’t finish on their plate? It seems that a huge majority marry food with bin, as 86 per cent of parents end up throwing away part of their children’s main meal.

A survey of parents conducted by Mumsnet to launch Food February #FoodFeb - a month-long celebration of food and nutrition on the site - showed that much of the food lovingly prepared by parents is destined for the bin.  

Only 12 per cent of parents have a rule that their children eat everything on their plate and a further two thirds of parents admitted that they finish off their children’s leftovers. 

Very few of us insist on our children finishing their meals and instead the majority of parents end up polishing off the leftovers

The survey highlighted some of the challenges that modern family mealtimes present, as half of parents surveyed admit to bribing their children to eat vegetables, and 54 per cent hide vegetables in sauces.  

Parents also go to great lengths to cater to their children’s individual preferences, with 55 per cent saying that they end up cooking multiple meals to please various family members, and two fifths admitting to cutting off the crusts for their children.

Justine Roberts, Mumsnet CEO and Co-Founder, said: “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.”

Nearly three quarters of Mumsnet users are their family’s main cook, with only 10 per cent saying that their partners do the bulk of the meal preparation, and three quarters cook meals from scratch.  

Food is costing more, with nearly half of users reporting that they’re spending more on food now than they were a year ago but they are also feeling the pinch; a third regularly use coupons or vouchers to save money on their supermarket shop.

The prevalence of smartphones and tablets has had an influence on family meals too, as 61 per cent of parents have had to enforce a ‘no texting at the table’ rule. 

Whilst 85 per cent of parents whose children own smartphones impose a ban on their children using them at the table, only 48 per cent have a rule that adults shouldn’t use smartphones at meals.  

Another popular rule is ‘no talking with your mouth full’, enforced by a massive 89 per cent of parents.

For full survey results, visit