What's for Dinner?

NPD studies how and why we choose our entrees

ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Little effort, little planning and quick to preparethese are three of the top five reasons consumers in charge of fixing dinner cited for choosing the main course for a meal, according to a recent study by NPD Foodworld. The never-ending desire for convenience was one of the key attributes to come out of the study of home-prepared dinners titled Dinner Landscape: Segmentation Analysis of the Home-Prepared Dinner Occasion in America.

Last minute decisions about what to make for dinner were quite common, a report on the study states. [image-nocss] Just one-quarter of respondents said they planned the dinner menu in advance, while 37% decided what to cook the same day. Another 37% waited to decide until just prior to preparing the meal.

The foods most likely to be selected at the last minute, according to the study conducted by the Rosemont, Ill.-based consumer research company, are:

Breakfast-type foods Frozen prepared main dishes Sandwiches Macaroni/noodles Pizza

The report noted, however, that there is always a difference between what people says and what they actually do. And so, NPD also took note of what the 53,000 consumers surveyed actually ate for dinner. The top five main courses were:

Meats (23%) Poultry (14%) Sandwiches (10%) Italian dishes (9%) Casseroles/Oven dishes (6%)

Convenient, ready-made frozen dinners didn't even make the top five, the report noted. Surprisingly, meatone of the foods that consumers actually spend the most time preparing and cookingranked first.

And as to those top five statements dinner-meal preparers used to describe the primary reason for specific main-course choices? They were:

It requires little effort. (It is easy to make.) It satisfies my hunger. It takes little or no planning. It is made with foods that I have on hand. I can get the meal to the table quickly.

To view the complete report, click here.