Frozen Food for Thought

In bygone days, a homemaker took on a rosy glow from the stove over which she toiled. Nowadays, she’s likely to show signs offreezer burn. According to a new study by The NPD Group, 10.4 percent of Americans’ evening meals now include a frozen entree, up from 8.8 percent in 1995. By comparison, takeout has been almost flat: 6.8 percent of dinners eaten at home now include a takeout component, versus 6.2 percent in 1995. The report suggests food manufacturers willcontinue to win “the battle of the American kitchen” as they “shift their thinking from ‘packaged foods’ to ‘packaged meals.’ ” The target audience for their efforts will be mainly female, to judge by another of the survey’s findings. (See the chart below.) While the percentage of dinners cooked by men isn’t insignificant, it’s no longer growing. You might think the economic boom would lure people to restaurants more often, but the data indicates otherwise: 7 percent of dinners are now eaten in a restaurant, the same as in 1995, 1990 and 1985. On the conviviality front, 3 percent of dinners are consumed by people who are guests in other folks’ homes.