Although healthy eating is important, U.S. consumers think of convenience before health when considering what to eat, according to NPD Group’s "Eating Patterns in America" report.

NPD’s report says consumers are trading healthy choice for convenient alternatives. For example, Americans are eating sandwiches for dinner at home more than any other entree. They're using fewer fresh foods in meals served at home. And after years of bringing more dinners home from restaurants, Americans are now bringing home more lunches from restaurants as well.

While 92 percent of Americans say they believe that it's important for food to be fresh when they purchase it, fresh foods as components of meals eaten at home are declining Last year, almost half, or 47 percent, of in-home main meals included at least one fresh product, down from 56 percent in 1985.

Sandwiches are now the No. 1 dinner entree eaten at home, NPD found. Slightly more than one out of every nine dinners, or 11.1 percent, features a sandwich. The lunchtime sandwich, however, is declining. Last year, 36 percent of all lunches served at home included a sandwich, down from 45 percent in 1990.

Increasing numbers of Americans are taking home lunches from restaurants. Sixteen years ago, the average American brought eight restaurant meals home for lunch annually. Last year, that practice increased to an all-time high of 13 restaurant meals, a 62 percent increase from 1990.

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