Parents serve 1,460 evening meals to their family during the average year – and end up throwing the equivalent of more than a quarter of those in the bin, a study has found.
Fussy eaters, snacking before mealtimes and poor appetites means more than a quarter of each plateful of food put on the dinner table will be left uneaten.
And with an average of two adults and two children in each family, this means parents are producing 1,460 plates of food for evening meals each year, but throwing the equivalent of 394 of those away.
Almost a quarter of parents even admitted to often cooking meals knowing full well a large amount of it will go to waste.
It also emerged salad is the dish most likely to be left by children, followed by meat and veg, stir-fry and risotto.
A spokesperson for food waste disposal firm InSinkErator, which commissioned the research, said: “Mealtimes can often be a chaotic and stressful time for families, whether that’s because of a lack of time to get everything prepared or because family members don’t want to eat what’s on their plate.
“Parents will spend a large chunk of their time preparing and cooking evening meals for the family, so it can be frustrating to end up throwing so much of that food away.
“Not only that, but there is a cost implication to think about, with all of that wasted food coming out of their pocket and into the bin.”
The poll of 2,000 parents found eight in ten regularly end up throwing away at least part of their children’s uneaten meals, with dinner the meal most likely to see wasted food.
Forty-five per cent blame this on their children being fussy eaters with 57 per cent admitting they have put a meal in front of their child, only to have them completely refuse to eat it.
And a staggering 78 per cent had to face a child turning down a meal because they ‘didn’t like it’ – despite happily eating it in the past.
Others reasons for children not eating everything on their plates include tucking into snacks before meal times (30%), not having a big appetite (23%) and messing around so much they don’t end up finishing (24%).
Despite this, half of all parents say they do all they can to try to encourage their kids to finish everything in front of them.
But children aren’t the only ones to blame as the poll, carried out on OnePoll.com, also found the average adult leaves behind around a quarter of what’s on their plate.
Researchers also revealed almost half admit the amount of food waste in their home leads to disagreements – with an average of three rows a week caused by someone not eating everything on their plate.
The study also found almost one in four worry about the amount of food they throw away each day, with another 42 per cent saying they worry about the cost.
And to combat the food waste in their household, 47 per cent would simply like a family who isn’t fussy with their food, while more than one in five would like an automatic food waste bin that empties itself.
But more than half of those polled admit they have no idea what happens to their food when it leaves their home, with 46 per cent believing it simply goes to landfill.
Twenty-two per cent think it’s recycled while one in twenty think it simply disappears.
A spokesperson for insinkerator.co.uk, added: “Despite our very best efforts to reduce food waste in the home, a small amount is inevitable, as many of us are faced with the difficulty of disposing of our banana skins, egg shells and food scraps.
“A food waste disposer is a discreet asset to any home and provides households with a safe, simple and effective way to dispose of food waste in a convenient and hygienic manner.”