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The Boston Globe

Food & dining

On the family menu: What’s familiar

For Americans, particularly in the cold months, dinnertime mostly means home and hearth. It also means convenience and comfort.

In 2013 we are making family dinner more often than we dine out, a trend that took root before the recession. Mostly, we’re cooking with and eating a narrow range of foods — and relying, to some extent, on prepared, frozen, and canned items to feed our families quickly and economically. “It’s very boring. That’s the sad truth,” says Harry Balzer, chief food industry analyst for the NPD Group, a national market research company. “For the most part, we’re looking for what’s the easiest way out of this, what’s the cheapest way out of this.”

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