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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - The average British mother relies on just nine different meals to feed her family, a study has found.
Food product company Merchant Gourmet polled 4,000 Britons to discover that hectic lifestyles, fussy children and partners who work long hours mean mothers are stuck in a rut when it comes to experimenting in the kitchen.
Nine in 10 mothers polled admitted cooking the same meals over and over again while one in four made the same meals on the same day of the week.
The most common meal was spaghetti Bolognese followed by roast dinners, a shepherd's or cottage pie and a pasta dish.
"It's not surprising, given the demands of modern family life, that home cooks revert back to the recipes they know and love," a spokesman for Merchant Gourmet said in a statement.
"People are put off experimenting with new meals and ingredients as they're convinced it will be time-consuming or expensive.
The study also highlighted the rise of the fussy family.
"A massive 81 percent of respondents claimed they have to make two or more meals every night and 23 percent said they would stick to the same meals because their children are fussy eaters," the spokesman said.
The survey also found that dinner time takes the average mother 35 minutes from start to finish, and four in 10 mothers play safe by choosing meals they know their family like.
Over a third do not want to waste money by cooking something the kids turn their noses up at, and 44 percent don't have the time to experiment.
But two-thirds feel guilty that they don't make the time.
The survey also revealed that food enjoyment was the most important factor for 30 percent of modern mothers and fathers when choosing what to cook, followed by taste (24 percent), whilst health was third (23 percent).
Over half (55 percent) cook at least two meals to keep the whole family happy, with eight in 10 enjoying a sit-down with their other half later in the evening.
The research found that the average mother has eight cookery books in the house, but has attempted just five recipes.
Of the cooks questioned, 39 percent also found that at least half of the recipes they try from these books do not turn out as expected.
And two-thirds have at least four books that have never seen the light of day.
Three in 10 have the likes of Nigella Lawson and Delia Smith on their shelves just to impress visitors, and a third will only attempt a new dish at a dinner party.
However, three-quarters blame celebrity chefs' recipes for being too complicated, with too many expensive or hard-to-find ingredients.
Top nine meals relied upon by UK mums
1. Spaghetti Bolognese
2. Roast dinner
3. Shepherds Pie/Cottage Pie
4. Pasta dish
5. Meat and two veg
8. Sausages and chips/mash