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2 things kids like about food that might surprise you

And why it’s good news for their parents

3 Jun 2024
News 4 min read
Cute kid with long hair holding a fruit and licking their upper lip on a green leafy background

When it comes to food and family mealtimes, what do kids in primary school (and their parents) care about?

We surveyed 500 parents and their kids aged 4 to 12 from around Victoria to find out.

In this article:

Two kids pytting green leaves in a full blender

#1 Helping around the kitchen 


Kids actually do want to help around the kitchen (more than parents might realise).

The survey results tell us that kids want to...

Help decide on recipes/meals 
Around 9 in 10 want to, but only around 7 in 10  parents thought their kid would.

Help pack their lunchbox
Around 9 in 10 want to, but only around 6 in 10 parents thought their kid would.

Help with food scraps/composting
If they have a compost at home, around 8 in 10 want to help get rid of food scraps, but only around 5 in 10 of their parents thought they would.

Help cook
This was something we asked parents, and around 8 in 10 said they think their kids would want to help them, but only around 6 in 10 said they do this with their kids sometimes/often. 

Banana peel, apple core and other green waste


9 in 10

kids surveyed want to help decide on recipes/meals 

(but only around 7 in 10 parents throught their kid would like this).

Kids baking under the watchful eyes of their mum and grandma

#2 Spending time together


Kids like spending time together as a family more than the food.

Spending time together
Around 1 in 2 of the kids surveyed said this is what they like about family mealtimes.

Eating the food
Around 1 in 4 kids surveyed said this is what they like about family mealtimes.

In their words...

"Being together" 

– 7 year old child

"Playing ‘favourite thing'" – 6 year old child

"I like my food and to see my family"  – 8 year old child

"Laugh with daddy"

– 8 year old child

"Mum and Dad get to eat with us" – 10 year old child

"I like cuddling my mum and watching movies together" – 11 year old child

"To make memories and time I have with them" 

– 9 year old child
Illustration of two bowls and a plate with healthy food on them

More than

1 in 2

kids surveyed said spending time together is what they like about family mealtimes.

(compared to 1 in 4 who said the food is what they like)

Kid picking fruits from a plant

Relationship with food


The vast majority of parents surveyed want their child to have a healthy relationship with food.

What did the parents surveyed agree on?

A healthy relationship with food
Around 9.5 in 10 parents agreed they want this for their child.

To appreciate meals and learn to cook
Around 9 in 10 parents agreed they want this for their child.

That family mealtimes are for connecting
Around 9 in 10 parents agreed with this.

Illustration of tomatoes, spices and a kitchen utensil


9 in 10

parents agreed that they want their child to appreciate meals and learn to cook.


Around 9 in 10 kids said that they like learning where food comes from (and around 7 in 10 parents agreed their kids would want to do this)

Kid-friendly experience @ Melbourne Museum


The Secret World of Food at Melbourne Museum

11am to 3pm on weekends in June: 

  • Saturday 8 to Monday 10 June
  • Saturday 15 to Sunday 16 June
  • Saturday 22 to Sunday 23 June
More info

Why this is good news for parents


Parents want their kids to have a healthy relationship with food, and kids want to be more involved! It’s a win-win.

The best part is that being involved with food at any stage – growing, shopping, cooking, mealtimes and cleaning up – all form part of your family’s food culture.

Food planning, preparation and mealtimes can be a stressful part of family life – all parents know this. 

But could dealing with the extra mess and chaos of getting the kids involved while they’re young and eager, actually be the answer to achieving what the parents surveyed agreed with most? - (that they want their kids to have a healthy relationship with food).

It might just be.

How to get your kids to help in the kitchen (with minimal mess!)


Our research shows young kids want to help with food-related tasks at home – more so than parents realise!

We know it can feel stressful to involve them, but it’s so important for fostering a positive relationship with food (something we know parents are passionate about!).

So here are some really simple things you can do to get kids helping, with minimal mess and stress:

  1. Talk to them about where fresh fruit and veggies comes from – it’s a big journey from the farm to their plate!
  2. Let them help choose recipes or ingredients for a family meal once a week
  3. Which brings us to …. eating together! Life is busy, we get it. But even if it’s just once a week – kids have told us they love talking, laughing and spending time with their family when they eat together (the social connection part is even more important to some kids than the food itself).
  4. Let them help pack their lunch box. It can be as simple as them choosing a piece of fruit from the fruit bowl, and popping it in the lunch box – it all helps create a positive connection to you and to good food.
  5. Let them scrape their food scraps into the compost or green waste bin – use this as a chance to talk about all the nutrients in fruit and vegetables, and how important they are for the soil – which can be used to grow more food!

About the survey

We surveyed 500 parents and their kids aged prep to Year 5.


How did kids do the survey?


Part of the online survey was designed for kids – a 3 to 5 minute section.

Depending on their kid’s age, parents either handed the device over so they could do it by themselves, or helped them.

If they had more than one kid in the target age group, just one of them did it.


Who were the 500 parents and kids who did the survey?


A sample of families from across Victoria to best represent different ages and locations:

  • Location: regional and metro
  • Age: parents from 18 to to 46; kids from 4 to12 years old.
  • Sex: male and female parents.
  • Family size: 1, 2 or 3+ kids in the family

When and where did this happen?


In May 2024 via an online survey conducted by Empirica Research on behalf of VicHealth.

Artwork by Dexx (Gunditjmara/Boon Wurrung) ‘Mobs Coming Together’ 2022
VicHealth acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land. We pay our respects to all Elders past, present and future.
This website may contain images, names and voices of deceased people.

VicHealth acknowledges the support of the Victorian Government.

Artwork Credit: Dexx (Gunditjmara/Boon Wurrung) ‘Mobs Coming Together’ 2022, acrylic on canvas. Learn more about this artwork.