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Stop & Shop Survey: Half Of Shoppers Say Family Dinners Cramped By Time

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As summer comes to an end and families get back into the school routine, parents consistently find themselves feeling pinched for time, according to The Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. LLC, which recently surveyed more than 500 shoppers on their dinner habits. The survey found that more than 40 percent of families rely on recipes that are quick and easy-to-make favorites, above all else.

One way that shoppers have found to hold on to precious family time while still preparing dinner is by turning to “go-to meals.” A go-to meal is quick to prepare, requires little skill, calls for ingredients that are already on hand and is family approved. The survey found 88 percent of shoppers relied on go-to meals at least once or twice a week. What’s more, 90 percent of shoppers reported also factoring in the nutrition quality of meals, ranking it as very important or extremely important when deciding what to make for dinner.

The top five go-to meals include:

• spaghetti

• baked/fried chicken

• tacos

• macaroni and cheese

• hamburgers/cheeseburgers

“Stop & Shop believes that families can have it all when it comes to dinner time—quick, family approved and nutritious meals,” said Stop & Shop nutritionist Julie Menounos, MS, RD, LDN. “For these determined parents, Stop & Shop offers various tips that speed up their favorite recipes, getting them out of the kitchen more quickly with a healthy meal in hand.”

Here are a few tips and tricks for favorite recipes that cut down on time and boost nutrition:

• For that favorite spaghetti dish: Swap enriched white pasta for 100 percent whole wheat or whole grain pasta (look for varieties made with 51 percent whole wheat) for more fiber and protein than white pasta. Fiber and protein fill you up and help make meals more satisfying. If your family is hesitant to switch from white to wheat, try cooking half white, half whole wheat and, over time, adding more whole wheat and less white to the mix. Also, toss pasta with fresh veggies and herbs—like summer squash, tomatoes and basil to amp up that nutrition.

• No clean-up baked chicken: Bake your chicken in foil packets for easy cleanup and to lock in flavor. Top the chicken with a ready-made salsa and place it atop some fresh sliced veggies before cooking. Serve a whole grain on the side, like brown rice, quinoa or farro. Check the freezer aisle for quick microwavable frozen whole grains that are ready within minutes. These chicken packets also make for a quick and easy cleanup. Or if you plan on breading the chicken, try crushed whole grain cereal or blended oats for a boost of fiber and a lot less sodium than seasoned bread crumbs.

• 10-minute tacos: Meat packs a protein punch, but black beans also are high in protein and fiber and are a great alternative to meat in your tacos, especially if you’re in a pinch for time.

For Stop & Shop recipes, visit the recipe index.

The Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. employs approximately 63,000 associates and operates more than 400 stores throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New York and New Jersey.

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