Fast Food Gets Faster

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These days, consumers are obsessed with saving time and effort, and this is no less true when it comes to home cooking, according to The NPD Group's Kitchen Audit, a survey of 2,000 U.S. households. Forty-four percent of weekday meals are prepared in 30 minutes or less. Younger couples, singles, working parents, and the elderly are more likely to express-cook their weekday dinner (16 to 30 minutes), while Empty Nesters and traditional families (two-parent households with a stay-at-home mom) toil on average for 31 to 45 minutes on their weekday evening repast. Once mealtime is over, cleanup is lickety-split too. Dishes to wash? Not hardly. Americans' use of disposable goods and food storage materials is at an all-time high. Eighty-five percent of homes are stocked with paper plates, 95 percent have aluminum foil, and 89 percent have plastic sandwich bags. It's dinner time in real time.

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