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Where subterfuge is an ingredient

(ran NP ST TP editions)

Britons are the laziest cooks in Europe, survey results prove. Ninety-five percent of households admit eating reheated convenience food on a regular basis, and 9 percent say they pretend to guests that they cooked the meal from scratch.

Consumption of chilled lasagna, chicken tikka Marsala and other ready-to-eat meals has nearly doubled in five years to 99,000 tons a year, a shopping bill of $807-million.

Britain also consumes 45,000 tons of frozen pizza and 18,000 liters of prepared soups every year.

In France, with the same population, households spend only $216-million on chilled meals and buy twice as much fresh pasta as the British. Paradoxically, the survey also revealed that the French spend less time in the kitchen when preparing their evening meal.

However, the French do eat an annual 25,000 tons of garlic baguettes made in Hull by a British firm, Geest Prepared Foods, which commissioned the survey from National Opinion Polls. The East Midlands is the biggest purchaser of chilled meals, while the Northeast has the highest proportion of offenders, 16 percent, trying to pass off ready-cooked meals as their own.

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