In general, the traditional pattern of three meals a day was maintained during the period 1988 to 1998. Even in 2003, most people still appeared to be eating one hot meal per day (Albert Heijn, 2003). However, the trend during the period 1988-1998 was for slightly fewer people to eat breakfast (85% of respondents had eaten breakfast on both survey days in 1988, falling to 81% in 1998).
This was particularly true of the lowest socio-economic group. The nutrient intake was slightly lower among those who frequently omitted breakfast (Gezondheidsraad, 2002). For the hot meal of the day, which the Dutch usually take in the evening, there was a clear rise in the preference for products with relatively short preparation time and for pre-prepared convenience meals (Gezondheidsraad, 2002).
In 1995, 19% of consumers stated that they purchased pre-prepared meals from time to time, while by 1999 this figure had risen to 25%. Sales figures also indicate a rising trend in the consumption of pre-prepared meals. Between the first half of 2001 and the first half of 2002, the total quantity (by weight) of pre-prepared meals sold rose from 32 million to 35 million kilograms, while the average number of purchases per consumer rose from 7.7 to 7.9 per year (Bijman et al., 2003).
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During the period 1988 to 1998, the traditional Dutch hot meal, consisting of meat, potatoes and vegetables, lost ground to rice and pasta dishes, and composite dishes, i.e. those in which all ingredients are combined (Gezondheidsraad, 2002).
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However, in 2003, the potato remained the most commonly eaten basic ingredient (51%) of the hot meal (Albert Heijn, 2003). On average, a dinner prepared using potatoes as the staple ingredient contains more vegetables and more fat than one based around pasta or rice (Food Consumption Survey VCP-3 data 1998, supplementary analyses).