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One in six British adults have NEVER cooked a meal from scratch, according to a study. Researchers found the average family resorts to using packet-based or jarred ingredients to make evening meals at least four times a week.
Instead of using fresh ingredients such as spices, seasoning and home-made sauces, two thirds of people admit they are more likely to reach for more convenient, ready-made options.
This means common dinner-time dishes such as fajitas, spaghetti bolognese and lasagne are more likely to come from a packet than a recipe.
The study also found the majority of us think nothing of cobbling together a chicken curry from a jar, stir fry using pre-chopped and packed vegetables or chilli con carne with packet seasoning.
Other meals adults rarely make from scratch include meatballs, sausage casserole and cottage pie.
Andrew Mann of Co-operative Food, which commissioned the study of 2,000 adults to launch the retailer’s new ready meals range, said:
”The research shows we’re a nation of makers and fakers when it comes to evening meals.
”For the majority of British adults, life is one big juggling act, and often the thought of having to prepare a meal from the bare ingredients after a really long day can be an unwelcome one.
”Who wants to always be spending hours in the kitchen cooking on a Saturday night when you could be settling down in the front of the TV with the family and enjoying X Factor?
”Sometimes people just want something that’s easier and more convenient, knowing that the food you can get from a jar or a ready meal is often as good as the food you have spent hours putting together.”
The study also found seven in ten of us say they find it easier to cobble together a proper meal when in a rush if they use a few dinner-time cheats, such as making pasta bake with a jarred sauce or lasagne with a pre-made bolognese.
And when it comes to hosting for others at weekends, 44% of people opt for an easy life and cheat, with almost one in four admitting they would pretend they had prepared everything themselves.
Similarly, when cooking for a date, 42% of people would use cheats, while one in ten would happily buy a ready meal and pass it off as something they cooked themselves.
It also emerged that in a bid to convince guests of their culinary skills in the kitchen, many Brits have resorted to ‘tricks’ such as sprinkling the worktops with herbs, greeting diners with a tea towel casually flung over their shoulder and leaving pans out on the side.
The study also found the most important factor for people when serving an evening meal is taste, with 43% being more concerned about how tasty and delicious a meal is than how healthy, cheap or filling it is.
And two thirds of those polled say they try to find a good balance between serving up freshly cooked meals and ready meals or ones sourced from a packet or a jar.
On average, people have just 24 minutes to prepare their evening meal on a weekday, which leaves little time to chop the veg, seal the meat, and prepare the herbs and spices.
Andrew Mann added:
”Our research shows that, when it comes to preparing a meal, it’s all about creating a delicious taste, without creating a heap of work for yourself, and a ready meal is the ultimate ‘cheat’ for ease and convenience.”
TOP 20 ‘CHEAT’ MEALS
2. Spaghetti bolognese
4. Chicken curry
5. Stir fry
6. Chilli con carne
8. Pasta bake
10. Sausage casserole
11. Chicken casserole
12. Spaghetti carbonara
13. Cottage pie
14. Shepherd’s pie
16. Coq au vin
17. Meatballs and tagliatelle
18. Macaroni cheese
19. Beef stew
20. Beef stroganoff