How many meals do you make at tea time?

A recent study by Flora Cuisine has revealed that over a third of mums in the UK are preparing up to three meals each evening in order to satisfy the individual preferences of children and partners.

Three meals!? I find cooking one meal tedious enough, but three? Crazy times.

I’m pretty sure my Gran didn’t used to cook three separate meals every mealtime. My mum just got fried eggs and chips and was grateful. So what’s going on here? Are we raising a generation of fussy eaters, or of parents too frazzled and disenchanted to argue?

Now I’ll admit that sometimes I will ‘tweak’ a dinner to make sure there is at least one type of vegetable that Belle will eat, but that’s just a case of a few extra peas here, and the removal from her plate of anything courgette based, it’s not that I’m cooking entirely different dishes. Who are these women with all this time on their hands?


Eat your peas or you don’t get pudding

The survey also showed that us mums are rather lacking in imagination, or possibly motivation, with 72% of us just cooking the same meals over and over again. Oh the joys of parenting! Around two-thirds of us apparently own recipe books we don’t use because the ingredients are too expensive and the recipes too long and complicated. Makes sense to me. I only buy them for the pictures.

So what can we do about this? Well, there’s the ‘shut up, eat it and be grateful’ school of thought of course – that saves on the cooking time but increases the risk of whingeing – or you could argue that it’s good to provide kids with choice, and to give them food they enjoy. Flora are taking a different approach. They’re putting together a recipe book full of cheap and quick meal ideas from real mums. Post your recipe on their facebook page and you could even win a prize! Fish fingers and baked beans anyone?

What do you think? Are we just spoiling our kids and creating extra work for ourselves or is it important to cater for everyone’s tastes?


Photo credit – mschmidt62



  1. honeybee35
    25 May, 2012 / 4:31 pm

    I do remember my mother cooking different meals to cater for us – the kids – and my father, and then something more snack-like for herself. (She would always say that she didn’t feel like eating a full dinner.)

    But, this soon stopped when she returned back to work full-time, and the ‘spoiling’ soon ceased!

    Personally, I don’t think it takes too much effort to slightly amend meals for each member of your family – there are lots of kitchen gadgets and gizmoes to help us along.

    Also, if one child has an allergy/food intolerance or perhaps your partner is a vegetarian, but you are not, then this type of dinnertime-tailoring certainly becomes the norm.

    • 25 May, 2012 / 6:10 pm

      I think you’re right about the amendments, I’d definitely say I amend rather than cook separate meals.

      It’s interesting about your mum always saying she didn’t feel like eating. Why do you think that was? Was it maybe a money saving thing, or perhaps she was just sick of cooking?!

  2. 25 May, 2012 / 4:55 pm

    I am sorry to say that I frequently prepare 2 or 3 different meals at tea time. I’m veggie, my husband is not. The kids just have totally different tastes. One is a reformed veggie with a dairy intolerance who hates pasta, the other a carnivorous yogurt guzzling pasta addict. I try and fail to accomodate everyone, but refuse to make anything else if they don’t like what I’ve made. On those days they eat it or leave it, it’s their choice. It’s wearisome.

    • 25 May, 2012 / 6:10 pm

      Blimey, that sounds like a really complicated mix! It must be extra tricky with actual food intolerances to have to factor in too – I don’t envy you at all!

  3. 25 May, 2012 / 5:12 pm

    I’m in the same frigging trap! My problem is my husband comes home whenever he wants and expects to be fed… ok, it’s not “when he wants” because he’s a doctor and gets stuck at the hospital, but it’s still not easy to make a bunch of different suppers and never know when they should be ready. And I end up snacking trying not to eat until my husband comes home – he likes me to eat with him… I’m not sure how to handle it, honestly.

    • 25 May, 2012 / 6:13 pm

      That timing issue does add an extra twist doesn’t it? I have a similar thing at the moment, with a partner working quite late sometimes, and then you have that dilemma of do you eat with the kids or your partner. It sounds really difficult for you though if you don’t even know when he’s coming home. Do you end up having to eat really late at night when you’re already full of snacks?

      • 25 May, 2012 / 6:15 pm

        yes, just to be polite! Hard to lose the baby weight like that though!

        • 25 May, 2012 / 6:19 pm

          That’s not ideal is it?! Have you talked to him about it and explained how tricky it is for you? Maybe you could eat earlier at a sensible time and then just chat to him or have pudding or something while he has his?

  4. 25 May, 2012 / 6:21 pm

    I’ve seen a sign I want in my kitchen;
    What are we having for dinner mummy?
    Whatever i’m making with a side order of eat it or starve

  5. 25 May, 2012 / 7:28 pm

    One meal here. Luckily my toddler eats everything pretty much, but the OH will turn his nose up sometimes – in those cases he’ll go and scavenge leftovers at the farm/his parents. He works funny hours being a farmer, so I just eat with my little one, and he’ll have his kept warm in the bottom of the aga or will have to reheat.

    • 31 May, 2012 / 7:13 pm

      Haha! So you’ve got a child who’ll eat what they are given but a husband who’s fussy? Funny!

      • 31 May, 2012 / 7:38 pm

        OH’s just old fashioned. Farmer, so everything’s got to be meat & 2 veg (pretty much)

  6. 26 May, 2012 / 5:08 pm

    Most evenings I cook one dinner that will keep everyone satisfied….although there might be “options” within the meal – for instance my daughter doesn’t eat red meat (but my son loves it) so if there’s bacon or ham in something then I leave this out for her, or if I’m making burgers, she’ll have veggie burgers or some meat dishes she’ll have a quorn version (although the whole family also likes quorn). Also sometimes I make non-spicy versions of dishes for the kids and then a spicier version for the grown-ups…On the whole though these days I am trying to head us towards mostly vegetarian dishes and trying to keep it interesting and this way it would mean one main dish being cooked – the meat eaters still get meat when we eat out, get takeaway or at other meal times- sandwiches, etc…..

    • 31 May, 2012 / 7:14 pm

      That sounds fair, like you say thre is plenty of opportunity to eat meat that isn’t part of a main meal.

  7. Simon
    26 May, 2012 / 8:32 pm

    My wife is a Gluten Intolerant restaurant manager, so I have food allergies and funny timings to deal with. I love cooking though so it see it more of a challenge than a hardship. My 3y/o will eat most things so I try and cook things that we can eat together with enough left for my wife to reheat when she comes in. Sometimes I do gluten and gluten free options, but that would normally be both kinds of pasta with the same sauce for all. This is more to do with the cost of the GF pasta than anything else. I can by 5kg of ‘normal’ pasta for the same price as 500g of GF!

    • 31 May, 2012 / 7:15 pm

      I like your approach of it being a challenge rather than a chore! Perhaps that’s the approach I need to take to parenting generally…

  8. 28 May, 2012 / 5:19 pm

    Never had any of this when I was a kid, had to eat what I was given. To be fair though my parents wouldn’t make something they know I truly despise, such as something with coconut in.

  9. 6 June, 2012 / 6:09 am

    I find that most of my clients are serving up more than 1 dish to cater for 1 fussy eater.
    When you get to the bottom of it, you usually find the child had reflux as a baby that was not dealt with properly or there is a bit of an intolerance going on. Once the gut has been sorted with herbs they start to eat a lot better. I have 14 grandchildren and I don’t remember ever saying what do you want to eat, I just serve and they eat.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.