Photo of
December 12, 2018

Kombucha comes and kombucha will go. Is poke in or out? Does anyone remember what cronuts were? Does it matter? Food fashions may be fleeting but our favourite meals endure down through the years.

At this time of year, it is traditional for food blogs to look back at the food trends of the previous year as well as forecasting which dishes will be hot to trot over the next twelve months.

And the 5pm Dining blog is no different. Over the next couple of weeks, we will have a few blogs on the food trends that have shaped the restaurant scene recently.

We will also be gazing into our crystal ball and trying to predict what we might be eating and drinking in 2019.

Judging by previous years, our predictions will be what might charitably be called mixed. Some we get right. Most we don't.

It's all a bit of fun and none of it really matters.

We can say this with some confidence because a new study by the cooking appliance firm Belling has found that many of the family meals which were popular in the 1960s are still in the top twenty today.

Fish fingers forever

Fish fingers, Sunday roast and roast chicken are some of the top family meals which have remained popular over the last 50 years.

Other family meals which have stood the test of time include fish and chips, shepherd’s pie and our old friend, jacket potato.

And modern parents reckon a third of the meals they feed their kids are the same or similar to the ones their parents gave them when they were children.

Food Historian Monica Askay, acting as spokesperson for Belling, which commissioned the study, said: 'Food is and has always been subject to fashion.

'Our food choices are influenced by so many things including social factors, the availability of ingredients, foreign travel, immigration, celebrity chefs, advances in technology, changing health advice, and food scares.

'Food of the 1960s was still much influenced by the fourteen-year period of rationing during and following WW2.

'The preferred style of eating was very much "meat and two veg" - traditional British dishes.

'Over the decades our tastes have become much more cosmopolitan, and we have also reduced our meat consumption.

'The research shows that despite the large range of dishes and available ingredients we do tend to stick to a fairly small number of favourite dishes, and that many of these have remained preferred throughout the decades.'

The unstoppable rise of spag Bol

The study also found our favourite modern family meal is spaghetti Bolognese, rising from relative obscurity in the 60s to become a family staple.

Spag Bol – which is currently the most popular choice with families in 2018 – couldn’t crack the top twenty meals back in the 1960s, according to the survey.

Though by the 1980s the meal had become the fifth most popular family dinnertime dish.

Pizza has also experienced a meteoric rise over the last 50 years.

While rarely invited to the dinner table in the 60s, pizza became the tenth most popular family meal of choice in the 80s, and became the top dinner staple throughout the 1990s, according to the survey.

Monica explained the appeal of Italian foods: 'The rise in popularity of Italian dishes is interesting and quite complicated as it is due to a number of factors.

'Over the years, there has been migration to the UK from Italy and this led to the many influences on our food.

'This has included ice cream and ice cream parlours, 1950s coffee bars and the opening of restaurants like Spaghetti House and trattorias.

'This, alongside rising numbers of British people holidaying abroad and dietary advice stating a third of your meal should be carbohydrate and citing pasta as a great source of this added to its popularity.

'In later years, the increased availability of pasta in shops and supermarkets, rise of Italian ready meals, and popularity of celebrity chefs who are passionate about the cuisine have helped cement Italian meals as some of the nation’s favourites.

'Pizza has many American influences and was helped to fame by the opening of chain pizza restaurants across the UK.'

Sayonara Sunday roast?

The Sunday roast, which was consistently the most popular family meal throughout the 60s and 70s, has steadily been replaced by other alternatives since the 90s, and now sits in sixth place in the rankings.

Seventy five per cent of modern parents still believe it is important for their family to eat dinner together each evening, and the average family will manage to get together for a meal four times a week.

Fifty five per cent of those surveyed consider family mealtimes the highlight of their day.

And three in ten think their kids prefer classic meals which have stood the test of time over more modern, trendier cuisine.

Two thirds of parents think there is more pressure on them to feed their kids healthy, balanced meals than there was on their own parents decades ago.

Though almost a third of parents believe their kids are less interested in eating healthy food than they were when they were children themselves, according to the OnePoll study.

The Nation’s Favourite Family Meals Today

  1. Spaghetti Bolognese 2. Pizza 3. Roast chicken 4. Fish fingers 5. Fish and chips 6. Sunday roast 7. Pasta and sauces 8. Jacket potato 9. Beans on toast 10. Scrambled egg 11. Cheese toastie 12. Lasagne 13. Pasta bake 14. Shepherd's pie 15. Meatballs 16. Cottage pie 17. Homemade curry 18. Omelette 19. Roast beef 20. Stir fry

Favourite Family Meals – 90s

  1. Pizza 2. Spaghetti Bolognese 3. Pasta and sauces 4. Sunday roast 5. Jacket potato 6. Roast chicken 7. Lasagne 8. Fish fingers 9. Beans on toast 10. Shepherd's pie 11. Fish and chips 12. Scrambled egg 13. Pasta bake 14. Cottage pie 15. Cheese toastie 16. Boiled egg and soldiers 17. Homemade curry 18. Roast beef 19. Omelette 20. Macaroni cheese

Favourite Family Meals – 80s

  1. Fish fingers 2. Sunday roast 3. Roast chicken 4. Beans on toast 5. Spaghetti Bolognese 6. Fish and chips 7. Shepherd's pie 8. Jacket potato 9. Cottage pie 10. Pizza 11. Boiled egg and soldiers 12. Lasagne 13. Roast beef 14. Beef stew 15. Scrambled egg 16. Cheese toastie 17. Pasta and sauces 18. Pie and chips/mash 19. Chicken casserole 20. Omelette

Favourite Family Meals – 70s

  1. Sunday roast 2. Fish fingers 3. Roast chicken 4. Beans on toast 5. Shepherd's pie 6. Roast beef 7. Boiled egg and soldiers 8. Fish and chips 9. Cottage pie 10. Jacket Potato 11. Scrambled egg 12. Pork chops and vegetables 13. Spaghetti Bolognese 14. Roast pork 15. Beef stew 16. Pie and chips/mash 17. Omelette 18. Cheese toastie 19. Roast lamb 20. Chicken casserole

Favourite Family Meals – 60s

  1. Sunday roast 2. Fish fingers 3. Roast chicken 4. Beans on toast 5. Roast beef 6. Shepherd's pie 7. Boiled egg and soldiers 8. Fish and chips 9. Scrambled egg 10. Beef stew 11. Cottage pie 12. Roast pork 13. Pie and chips/mash 14. Pork chops and vegetables 15. Roast lamb 16. Steak and kidney pie 17. Jacket potato 18. Chicken casserole 19. Omelette 20. Cheese toastie