Top 30 most common mealtime arguments – with table manners topping the list

Londoners have more dinnertime disputes than anywhere else in the UK – with up to 10 squabbles a week.

A poll of 2,000 adults living with others found common arguments among those in the capital focus on manners, noisy eating and who should do the washing up.

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Although the most common argument, named by 32 per cent, is when someone gets up from the table to grab a drink – and doesn’t offer one to anyone else.

But those elsewhere in the south east came out as the least argumentative – having half as many disputes each week.

The ones they do have are most likely to be about whether diners should be allowed to look at their phones.

While people in the north east have the most rows over getting everyone to sit down and eat at the dinner table.

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Despite this, 59 per cent of adults believe little squabbles around the dinner table can actually bring them closer together.

And 61 per cent feel it would be boring if everyone in the family all had the same opinion.

Living costs raise food waste awareness

A spokesperson for Birds Eye, which commissioned the study to highlight how frozen food can take some of the hassle out of mealtimes, said: “Dinnertime is a time for families to come together, particularly during the Christmas and New Year season.

“However, as we all know, being together doesn’t always mean peace and harmony.

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“That said, it’s great to hear that when these dinnertime disputes do occur, over half of people feel they bring them closer together.”

Across the nation, the top reason for having more bust-ups over Christmas is simply that there are more members of the family around the table, all with different views (33 per cent).

While 32 per cent feel there’s more pressure to have a good time, and 27 per cent feel, certainly towards the end of the period, they’ve ‘seen too much of each other’.

The research also found residents in Scotland spend the most on food in a normal week – a total of £142.80 a week, compared to East Anglians who spend the least (£95.90).

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For Christmas, however, people in the south west up their expenditure the most, rising to £164.80 a week from £117.90 in a normal week.

Despite this, 47 per cent of all adults think the rising cost of living has made them more aware of food waste at mealtimes this Christmas.

Encouraging dinnertime discussions

Furthermore, the research reveals 95 per cent cook from frozen at least once a week, with a key reason for this being you don’t have to worry about food going off.

Other reasons include it being easier, you don’t need to plan days in advance and that the family prefer it.

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And seven in 10 consider it important to eat together as a family, throughout the year, according the stats by OnePoll.

More than half (57 per cent) think it improves their family bond, while 48 per cent of those who are parents claim it helps them understand their children’s lives.

Birds Eye’s spokesperson added: “It’s a shame to see so many people still feel the pressure to have a ‘perfect’ Christmas.

“And that little squabbles still happen during the festivities.

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“One thing that people seem to agree on is good food and our results show frozen food is a family favourite.

“This Christmas – and throughout 2023 – we hope to see lots of families having dinnertime discussions about all sorts of subjects.”

Top 30 most common mealtime arguments

  1. Someone’s table manners
  2. If people can look at their phones
  3. Getting everyone to eat/sit at the dinner table
  4. How quickly the kids can be excused from the table after finishing
  5. Not offering anyone else a drink and just getting one for yourself
  6. If it’s OK to leave uneaten food on the plate
  7. People eating loudly
  8. If the food is tasty enough
  9. Who should do the washing up
  10. Who chooses what to eat
  11. Whether you can give the dog/cat some of your food
  12. Whether it’s rude to add salt to a meal someone else has cooked you
  13. Whether the meal is spicy enough/too spicy
  14. Who should be clearing their plate
  15. Which TV show/film to watch in the evening
  16. Someone eating with their mouth open
  17. What time to eat
  18. Whether a meal is too healthy or unhealthy
  19. If it’s OK to watch TV
  20. Who's doing the cooking for the rest of the week
  21. The way a person uses cutlery
  22. If you can eat in the living room
  23. What to have for future mealtimes
  24. When to do the food shopping
  25. If the food is exciting enough
  26. What time to go to bed
  27. If something is cooked properly
  28. What size constitutes ‘one portion’
  29. The family’s finances
  30. Whether to let pans soak after meals or not
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