Nearly eight in 10 parents (78%) said their child has a “mature palate,” preferring foods adults usually consume.
A survey of 2,000 parents with school-age kids (ages 5–17) revealed what exactly goes into a lunch their young ones enjoy, including some surprisingly “grown-up” favorites.
Carrots (45%), cucumbers (43%) and potatoes (44%) topped the list of preferred vegetables, while apples (45%), bananas (44%) and oranges (41%) were kids’ fruits of choice.
As for protein, more than half (55%) of parents said their child prefers chicken for lunch, much more so than ham (39%), which was the least popular.
Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Veggies Made Great, the survey also found that 58% of kids are the rebels of their friend group, opting for vegetables (43%), fruits (37%) and meats (37%) that none of their friends would eat.
What’s behind kids’ favorite foods? The flavor, according to 53% of parents. Foods that smell good (46%) and are shareable with friends (45%) also influenced kids’ choices.
For breakfast, pancakes (29%) were favored over croissants (14%) or waffles (10%).
A hot breakfast was also found to be much more preferred over a cold one (56% vs. 23%).
Aside from traditional picks, kids have requested other additions to their first meal of the day, from chocolate (36%) and donuts (36%) to pizza (34%) and cookies (34%).
And kids’ snack times aren’t complete without such staples as fruits (37%), yogurt (36%), crackers (36%), smoothies (34%) and popcorn (34%).
However, when it comes to lunch, 56% of parents said their child “always” or “often” leaves this meal uneaten. The No. 1 part left over? Vegetables, according to 46%.
“Multiple studies over the years have shown that eating balanced meals throughout the day affects children’s behavior and academic potential,” said Carolyn O’Neil, a registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for Veggies Made Great. “Things we don’t always link to nutrition, such as the ability to focus and think clearly, are impacted by what kids eat, and how often.”
Is there a correlation between academic achievements and food preferences? Among parents who agreed their child is a top student, the overwhelming majority said their young one prefers potatoes (98%) and carrots (97%) for lunch. Meanwhile, those with children who don’t do well at school were less likely to cite these preferences (60% and 53%, respectively).
But as kids get older, they’re not always eating the same things. More than half (56%) of parents said their child’s palate has changed over the years, with friends (34%) and influencers or celebrities (34%) playing the biggest role in this shift.
The survey also found most kids prefer lunches their parents cook over the ones served at school (75% vs. 10%).
And 37% of parents said their child is more likely to eat the entirety of their lunch compared to other meals, with 25% finishing their breakfast and only 18% eating their full serving of dinner.
“Nearly eight in 10 (77%) parents polled wish their child ate healthier, but it can be challenging to find time to prepare three healthy meals each day — especially with multiple kids,” said Elliot Huss, CEO of Veggies Made Great. “Quick and convenient options that combine vegetables with kid-friendly flavors, such as chocolate, can help ensure kids are getting their daily servings of veggies in a familiar format kids love.”
WHY DO KIDS LIKE CERTAIN FOODS?
● They taste good – 53%
● They smell good – 46%
● They’re shareable (i.e., easy to share with friends) – 45%
● Their friends eat it – 41%
● Their favorite influencer or celebrity eats it – 40%
● They’re bite-size – 40%
This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 American parents of school-age kids (ages 5–17) was commissioned by Veggies Made Great between Feb. 21 and Feb. 22, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).
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Produced in association with SWNS Research