Meal context key factor in consumption

The meal context is an important aspect of meat consumption as meats such as beef and lamb are typically consumed as a main meal between 6pm and 8pm in Australia. Meal choice determines portion size, ingredients and cooking methods and, consequently, influences the overall quality of the diet. A difference in accompanying ingredients by choice of meat has been reported, with more vegetables consumed with beef and lamb compared to chicken, pork and fish (see Table 1).

Table 1: Mean intakes (cooked weight, grams) of foods consumed in the same meal as individually recorded meat, poultry and fish in children aged 2 – 16 years in the 2007 (Bowen J et al, 2012).
 Beef and lambPorkPoultryFish
Vegetables (excl. potato) 98 36 66 65
Potato 62 14 44 40
Fried potato 5 3 15 18
Rice 13 9 31 19
Pasta/noodles 19 7 13 23

Bowen J, Baird D, Syrette J, Noakes M, Baghurst K. Consumption of beef/veal/lamb in Australian children: Intake, nutrient contribution and comparison with other meat, poultry and fish categories. Nutrition & Dietetics. 2012;69:1-16

Research sheds light on main meal choices

To gain a better understanding of main meal choices and associated behaviours, MLA commissioned a series of studies in nationally representative samples of Australian main meal preparers. The findings are surprising and provide useful insights for guiding development of nutrition education resources.


  • MLA (2009) Last Night’s Dinner. Sydney: Meat and Livestock Australia. ISBN 9781741913583
  • MLA (2011) Main Meal Repertoires. Sydney: Meat and Livestock Australia. ISBN 9781741915679
  • MLA (2013) What’s Cooking. Sydney: Meat and Livestock Australia. ISBN 9781925045093