March 22/Solon, Ohio/PRNewswire -- According to a new survey by Nestle USA, 25% of Americans confess to having passed off frozen meals as their own culinary creation. Another 14% admit to having "accidentally" taken a co-worker's frozen meal in the workplace.

These and other findings were released in a national poll by Nestle USA (commissioned with Impulse Research), which explored how today's consumers perceive and use frozen foods.

Nestle uncovered some unexpected insights, including the fact that frozen meals serve as an inspiration for many aspiring cooks. More than a third of respondents said they have tried to create their own version of a favorite frozen meal.

"This sneak peek into America's freezers shows how ready-made meals have become must-have menu items," said Christine Dahm , vice president of Marketing and Innovation, Nestle Prepared Foods Company. "With today's hectic schedules, people appreciate not only how frozen meals fit with their lifestyles, but also the better quality, variety and convenience that is available to them. It's fun to discover how they're using frozen every day," she said.

According to Mintel, net household usage of frozen or refrigerated meals is nearly universal (94%) among U.S. households. (Mintel, "Frozen Meals – U.S., May 2012"), and a recent Harris Survey conducted by Nestle showed of all meals consumed, more than 80% are prepared at home and nearly two in 10 of those consist of frozen meals, an average of four meals per week.

Fresh Look at Frozen Foods Survey Results:
Frozen Foods at Mealtime

  • One in four (25%) of those surveyed said they have passed off frozen food as their own. Among this group, the trend is even higher among younger home cooks: 69% of 18- to 24-year-olds and 38% of 25- to 34-year-olds admit to taking credit for a frozen meal.
  • 72% said serving frozen food with a freshly made side dish or presenting it on a nice plate; 65% said it helps make it more believable as homemade.
  • 64% said their meals often consist only of frozen food.
  • 27% said they mix frozen foods with fresh ingredients most of the time.
  • 31% said they have tried to create their own version of a favorite frozen meal.
  • Of those who use frozen foods to customize their family meals, 70% said they do it to accommodate personal taste preferences in their family.

Frozen Meals in the Workplace

  • 23% said they prepare frozen meals at work.
  • Of these respondents, 51% said they turn to frozen as a convenient lunch option and 35% said frozen is a good option for a hot meal.
  • 14% admitted to having "accidentally" stolen a frozen meal from the freezer at work. That number jumps to 27% among 18 to 24-year olds.

Inside America's Freezers
While 72% called their freezer neat and tidy and well-organized for easy access, 44% said they often find a U.F.O., or Unidentifiable Frozen Object, in their freezers.
Survey participants report unusual items are stored in America's freezers, including fish bait, glow sticks, bras, cigarettes, candles, batteries, money as well as credit cards, paintbrushes and even small family pets frozen until proper burial arrangements can be made.

The most popular items in freezers? Frozen meat or seafood, frozen vegetables or fruits, ice cream and ready-made meals.