Kids say dinners should last half an hour and be eaten in front of TV, poll finds

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A study of 1,000 6-16 year olds discovered what they really think of mealtimes, with pizza, burgers and chicken nuggets being top of the menu. While mum wins in the cooking stakes, dad is the least strict around the table but also most likely to burn the food. Almost half – 47 percent – of honest youngsters admitted they prefer their mum’s meal choices, while only 16 percent would opt for dad’s.

Mums were also revealed as the most creative in the kitchen, but keen dads are more enthusiastic.

The research, commissioned by Italian appliances brand Smeg, found that if kids had it their way they would eat at 5.48pm each day and be able to choose how much food goes on their plate.

A further 27 percent believe phones should be allowed at the table, while 13 percent would like to eat their dessert before the main dish.

And popular meals kids would choose to eat included hot dogs (32 percent), spaghetti Bolognese (35 percent) and fish and chips (39 percent).

It also emerged that more than half of children enjoy spending time in the kitchen with their family, but 32 percent would like to help cook more.

A spokesperson for Smeg said: “It’s wonderful for us to get such a positive insight into children’s thinking about family dinner times and the time spent together in the home.

“The best thing is they are honest about judging their parent’s cooking skills and habits.

“We really believe the kitchen is very much the heart of the home. It’s where families come together at the end of their busy days.

“The research proves children enjoy being in the kitchen with their families and parents – but would mix things up if they had it their way.

“It’s also nice to see how keen youngsters are to help out with cooking and chores.”

Following the findings, Smeg has created a video showing children talking about their ideal mealtime – and who is the better cook.

The study also found mums cook the most often and are also more likely than dads to use fresh ingredients rather than sticking something in the oven.

Mums are also most likely to allow their youngsters to help them prepare for mealtimes, with three quarters often in the kitchen with them.

Setting the table (43 percent), adding ingredients to pans (35 percent) and peeling vegetables (30 percent) are among the jobs they most enjoy.

Amusingly, children’s favourite part about helping in the kitchen is eating the meal.

But a third admitted they’d like to have more meals with their family rather than eating separately to them – with 28 percent usually eating earlier than their parents and 21 percent even having a different meal.

They also like licking the bowl (28 percent) and planning the dish (17 percent) while 29 percent simply enjoy cooking with mum and dad.

The most hated chores were found to be washing up (20 percent), clearing the table (15 percent) and loading and unloading the dishwasher (12 percent).

And the OnePoll study found that features kids would like to see in their family kitchen included a TV on the wall (48 percent), surround sound for music (26 percent) and even a ball pit (15 percent).

Smeg’s spokesman added: “The last year has seen us spend more time in the home and the kitchen.

“As an Italian, family brand it’s wonderful to see kids want to keep eating meals with their parents and spending quality time together, even as restrictions lift.

“We want to take small wins from Covid and spending more time with our family on the whole has to be one of those.”

Find out what your dinner time habits say about you by taking the quiz here

Top 10 dinner time rules according to children

1. Can leave the table when you’re finished and not have to wait for everyone else to finish

2. Eat dinner in front of the TV

3. Choose how much food goes on your plate

4. Have whatever you want to drink

5. Can eat in your pyjamas

6. Everyone chose what they want to eat

7. Music is allowed to be played

8. Don’t have to finish your meal before you can have dessert

9. Phones allowed at the table

10. Eat with your fingers

Top 10 meals children would choose in the evening

1. Pizza

2. Burgers

3. Chicken nuggets and chips

4. Fish and chips

5. Roast dinner

6. Spaghetti Bolognese

7. Pasta and sauce

8. Hot dogs

9. Fish fingers and chips

10. Sausage and mash

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