Survey reveals US teen eating preferences

7 Jun 2018

A new US-wide survey of 2,000 families with teenagers, ages 13-19, commissioned by Farm Rich, finds that today's teenagers spend an average of 1,000 hours, or 39 entire days, thinking about food.

Survey reveals US teen eating preferences

A new US-wide survey of 2,000 families with teenagers, ages 13-19, commissioned by Farm Rich, finds that today's teenagers spend an average of 1,000 hours, or 39 entire days, thinking about food between the ages of 13-19. With the next bite always on the brain, this, it says, has led teens to become more involved in family shopping, meal planning and food routines.

Among its findings:

+ Teen palates are becoming more sophisticated, drawing inspiration from social media, parents and cooking shows

+ Parents say 30% of the weekly grocery bill is driven by teens' preferences and eating behaviours

+ Teenagers snack 2-3 times per day

+ The typical teen expresses dissatisfaction with a meal four times a month

+The favourite meal among teens is dinner

While there are lots of sources for food inspiration, the researchers note, parents still play a key role in their kids' understanding of food, and teens view food as more than just a means of satiating hunger.

+ 7 in 10 say parents are their primary source for food knowledge

+ 46% surveyed watch cooking shows for food ideas

+ At 27%, Facebook is the largest social media source for culinary inspiration, followed by YouTube at 21%

+ 20% of teens use cooking as a way to unleash creativity

The survey confirms that teens are on track to become the next generation of culinary creators, the researchers claim, with about 25% saying they are experimental and adventurous in the kitchen, and willing to try unique and different foods. And 45% of parents share that their teens weigh in often on what should be included in mealtime menus.

More than half of the teens surveyed say meals provided at home don't always suit their preferences. Such attitudes have led parents to consider 'Meals I know my family will eat' as the most important factor when menu planning. And young people often move the goalposts – 28% have completely changed their diet, asking parents to switch up the menu.

+ The most popular meal plans for teens are low-carb (38%), low-fat (35%) and vegetarian (32%)

+ Teens complain about meals roughly 48 times per year

+ They snack heavily between meals (2-3 times a day), including chips, fruit, pizza and frozen snacks.

Despite these changing diets and preferences, more than 90% enjoy sitting down to eat with the family, with dinner the favourite meal among 65%.

To keep the peace while minimizing wasted food, parents encourage teens to get involved in grocery shopping, asking them to pick out ingredients and by giving them a role in planning/preparation. With the average teen now helping mom and dad in the kitchen three times a week, there are strong indications that this generation of gourmands is here to stay, the researchers claim.

"The parent-teen relationship will always have its challenges but involving teens in the process of meal planning and prep is a simple way to let them know they're being heard," said Shannon Gilreath, Farm Rich Director of Marketing. "Enjoying good food is a language we all speak, and it goes a long way in bonding families together, even during those tumultuous teenage years."

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