Easy does it

According to the NPD Group, slow cooker usage is expected to grow by 16 percent over the next 10 years, while grilling will increase 11 percent, reports Supermarket News.  NPD's "A Look Into the Future of Eating" report notes that stove tops and microwaves will continue to be the most common appliances used in meal preparation, and "Just as it has done over the last three decades, the need for convenience in meal preparation will continue to grow over the next decade," NPD said.

Other findings include: In the last decade, the use of slow cookers increased 36 percent and grilling rose 42 percent; 59 percent of consumers' main dishes at dinner were made from scratch in 2010, vs. 72 percent in 1980; The average number of food items per meal has decreased to 3.5 in 2010, down from 4.4 in the 1980s; The percent of meals cooked by a microwave has doubled since the 1980s; Households using a slow cooker at least once in a two-week period rose 67 percent from the 1980s to 2010; and Over one-third of American households use a grill to make a meal at least once in a two-week period.