Average UK household dumps £51,000 of food in a lifetime – but study finds way to stop the rot

Revealed: the top dishes children should be able to cook by the age of 11

  • ‘Micro kids’ – children’s kitchen skills have diminished by a third (33%) in the space of a generation due to rise of pre-packed meals
  • UK families throw away one fifth of their food purchases each year – or over £18,000 per person in a lifetime – despite more than three quarters of parents expressing concern about food wastage
  • Teaching kids to cook could help cut waste and promote a more balanced diet according to study, which identifies kids leaving food as one of the top five causes of food wastage
  • Some things remain a constant – the humble Brussels sprout remains top ‘food foe’ for children
  • Research commissioned by Samsung to launch the Family Hub Refrigerator as part of new initiative to encourage families to cook together more, in collaboration with MasterChef star Emma Spitzer

Samsung has teamed up with MasterChef finalist Emma Spitzer to get more kids in the kitchen, to mark the launch of the Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator – and has revealed the top 25 dishes that parents think kids should be able to cook by the age of 11, aimed at getting families cooking together more often.

Simple recipes for the top 25 dishes all feature in a free recipe book – free to download at Easy Kids Recipes.

The new Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator provides new ways to shop for, cook and manage food as well as helping to plan family life with its unique exterior screen, all designed to act as a family’s digital command centre.


Spaghetti bolognese, scrambled eggs on toast and pancakes are named among the dishes that children should be able to cook by the age of 11, in a new study released today.  The research suggests that teaching kids to cook could help solve the food wastage issue and highlights that children’s culinary skills are in sharp decline due to the rise of ready meals.

The research found that children being fussy eaters and leaving food on their plate is among the top five causes of food wastage for UK households.  Moreover, the findings reveal that families throw away an average of £676 of food every year, equating to over a fifth (22%) of their total average food bill[i]. Across a lifetime, this is over £18,000 per person lost on wasted food[ii], or over £51,000 for the average UK household[iii].


The Samsung Family Hub Study surveyed 2,000 British parents – asking them to name the dishes they believed children should be able to cook by the age of 11, which were compiled from a longlist assembled by a panel of leading food, consumer and family lifestyle experts.

The study was commissioned to mark the launch of the new Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator, which provides new ways to shop for, cook and manage food as well as helping to plan family life with its unique HD exterior screen, designed to act as a family’s digital command centre.

The Top 25 dishes that British parents believe children under 11 should be able to cook (with adult supervision) are as follows:


Simple recipes for the top 25 dishes listed all feature in a free recipe book, which has been specially created with MasterChef finalist Emma Spitzer to aid and promote cooking with children (free to download at Easy Kids Recipes).


The Family Hub™ study’s findings echo recent comments from kitchen doyenne Mary Berry that cookery skills for kids should be a bigger priority in both schools and at home.  The study revealed that the omnipresence of ready meals could well be part of the issue – finding that children’s kitchen skills had reduced by a third (33%) over the past 25 years. Indeed, a generation ago, British children were capable of cooking an average of six dishes by the age of 11, whereas today’s under 11s now have an average repertoire of just four dishes.

The study also reveals that over three quarters (76%) of British adults are concerned about food wastage, with one of the top five causes for this wastage including children being fussy and leaving food (18%). Further factors were noted as food going out of date (51%), buying more food than the households eats (24%), being unsure how to use up ingredients bought for a specific recipe (19%) and eating out more often than planned (17%).

Six in 10 of the parents surveyed (63%) noted that fussy eating and leaving food on the plate is a major issue with their children, particularly in their younger years.  Two thirds (66%) also said they wished their children had the opportunity to cook more often believing that children are far more likely to eat a wider variety of food if they prepare it themselves (56%) – alongside it being an important skill to have later in life (62%) and helping them to appreciate their food more (59%).

Emma Spitzer, finalist on last year’s MasterChef and herself a mother of four young children, has demonstrated how to cook a number of the 25 dishes in a series of Family Hubvideos.  She says, “The food wastage issue is something which affects us all and I firmly believe that getting kids involved in cooking and preparing food at a young age can help. I love cooking with my own children, it’s great fun and a brilliant way of encouraging them to try new foods. I have created a simple and free Samsung Family Hub recipe book which I hope will inspire families to cook together and for children to learn the joy of making their own meals from scratch.”

In the UK, over a third (37%) of parents currently cook less than once per week with their children – despite nine in ten (91%) believing that cooking with children is a good way to bring the family together, and over half (55%) stating that the kitchen is the most sociable room in the house, overtaking the living room.

The study found that some things remain a constant however, as the much-maligned Brussels sprout (46%) is named as the food item kids today are still most likely to refuse eating, followed by blue cheese (40%), anchovies (36%), olives (34%), spinach (33%), mackerel (32%), mushrooms (30%), sushi (29%), asparagus (27%) and kidney beans (26%).

Nick Bevan, Head of Product – Home Appliances at Samsung Electronics UK commented, “We’re passionate about developing new ways to make family life that little bit easier and encouraging today’s children to take an interest in food and cooking is a great way to ensure kids are engaged with what they eat, and hopefully lessening food wastage in the process as well. Along with our free recipe guide of dishes that are perfect to cook with the kids, the Family Hub™ Refrigerator not only offers recipe suggestions but also keeps track of the food you actually have in the fridge, all aimed at making mealtimes fun and reducing the amount of food that goes to waste.”

Regional breakdown:

Across the UK, those in London (83%) are most likely to be concerned about food wastage, while those in Scotland (70%) are least likely to be concerned – but London-based children (70%) are also the most likely to be fussy eaters, closely followed by those in East Anglia (69%), while those in the West Midlands (58%) likely to be the least fussy.

Download the Samsung Family Hub’s ‘Easy Kids Recipes’ recipe book for free at Easy Kids Recipes

The Samsung Family Hub™ Refrigerator is available from selected retailers as well as the Samsung e-store – for more information and stockist details please visit Samsung.

*Survey conducted by One Poll in November 2016 on behalf of Samsung of 2,000 British parents.

About Samsung Electronics

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. inspires the world and shapes the future with transformative ideas and technologies that redefine the worlds of TVs, smartphones, wearable devices, tablets, cameras, digital appliances, printers, medical equipment, network systems, and semiconductor and LED solutions. We are also leading in the Internet of Things space with the open platform SmartThings, our broad range of smart devices, and through proactive cross-industry collaboration. We employ 319,000 people across 84 countries with annual sales of US $196 billion. To discover more, and for the latest news, feature articles and press material, please visit the Samsung Newsroom at Samsung Newsroom.

[1] In 2014, average UK household spent £58.80 each week on food and non-alcohol beverages, according to stats from ONS in 2014: source – How Much Does The Average Household Spend Each Week

According to survey results, each household wastes £13 a week on food wastage, which is £676 each year.  Therefore, if we waste £13 of every £58.80 spent each week on food, that is 22% of overall food spend that goes on wasted food.

[1] Average family size surveyed – 2.96 per person.  Therefore, each person wastes an average of £4.40 per week on food (£13/2.96).  Average life expectancy in the UK is 81 years.  Therefore, across a lifetime, each person wastes £228,80 per year (£4.40 x 52) or £18,533 in a lifetime (£229.80 x 81).



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