NEW YORK — Most moms and dads simply can’t compete with Chef Boyardee. According to a new survey, 61 percent of parents admit they’re just not very good cooks.
A poll of 2,000 parents with school-age kids found that the school year is stressful as ever for parents with a list of tasks to complete. That list includes having the time to make proper meals for their kids (54%), to making sure the little ones are doing their homework (51%), and getting enough sleep (51%).
With their time being spread so thin, it’s no surprise that parents often get frustrated by the time it takes to prepare ingredients (54%) and cook their kids’ meals (44%). Additionally, three in five parents say the burden of cooking in their household usually falls to one parent (62%) – and it’s usually themselves (62%).
Another 62 percent say they would give up some of their favorite things for a week if they could get dinner on the table in under 10 minutes – such as their favorite music (62%), TV show or movie (55%), or most-loved outfit (45%).
Commissioned by Eckrich and conducted by OnePoll, the survey also found that parents believe figuring out what meals to make for their kids is a bigger daily stressor for parents during the school year than making sure their kids have good hygiene (45% vs. 25%). While 23 percent rely on school lunches for their child, a third of parents pack a lunchbox for their children every day. Most parents wish they could make quick and easy versions of fun, balanced meals for their kids (77%).
“Our results found that parents said lunch is the most stressful meal to prepare (36%), with 52 percent agreeing it’s especially difficult to feed their kids enough protein,” says Bethany Gurecki, Senior Brand Manager for Eckrich at Smithfield Foods, in a statement. “Choosing versatile ingredients that can be used in different recipes throughout the week can help simplify meal prep for busy parents.”
What exactly is an ‘easy’ meal for parents?
While 56 percent define an “easy” meal as anything that’s fast to cook, another 50 percent believe an “easy” meal has instructions right on the packaging (50%). Forty percent view “easy” meals as pre-made, and the same percentage define the term as something their kids can eat with their hands.
However, most parents struggle with finding “easy” meals that are also nutritionally balanced (63%). Seven in 10 busy parents of kids who have ever-changing palettes say that makes it even more challenging for them to find a favorite go-to meal for their young ones (71%).
The challenge may be especially tough for the 46 percent of parents who say their kids’ food phases last as long as one week (46%). This may be why more than half of parents “always” or “often” resort to giving their kids whatever snack is within arms’ reach when they get frustrated about meal prep (55%).
“There are quick, easy meal options suitable for kids with different preferences that help get kids the nutrition they need while not taking too much out of parents’ days,” adds Gurecki. “Keeping up with kids’ changing preferences can be as simple as making small tweaks to their all-time favorites, such as by swapping a sandwich for a flatbread or taco with the same contents or creating bite-size versions of favorite dinner dishes for snack time.”