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Raymond Shobe, "bossco" via flickr
Hot Pockets will fool few people that they are homemade, no matter how nice the side dish.

A new study by Nestle shows how deceptive and thieving Americans are when it comes to frozen food.

Let's say you are invited over for dinner and are served a tasty homemade dish. Chances are it is simply frozen food being passed off as the real deal.

"One in four of those surveyed said they've passed off frozen food as their own," says a press release about the study. "Among this group, the trend is even higher among younger home cooks: 69 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds and 38 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds admit to taking credit for a frozen meal."

But if you are going to do it, 72 percent of the food liars said serving the formerly icy entrée with a "freshly made side dish or presenting it on a nice plate (65 percent) helps make it more believable as homemade."

Serving Hot Pockets, however, may still stretch credibility.

Even though you probably missed National Frozen Food Day (March 6), it isn't too late to celebrate by making wise choices about buying frozen food. Dr. Mallika Marshall at New England Cable News tells what to look for: "Like with any meal, you want to look for foods that are low in sodium and saturated fat. Anything more than 20 percent of daily value is high. Many frozen meals are reasonable in terms of calories, fat and carbs but then you'll see that it's really two serving sizes. If you're having a frozen pizza, add something like a salad or fruit to make it healthier."

And that salad or fruit might make the frozen food appear to be homemade.

Jconline.com recommends picking plain frozen vegetables and adding your own butter when you prepare them. Avoid added sugar in fruits as well.

How about frozen foods you can use to make other meals with?

The Los Angeles Times says that "Americans spend more than $9 billion a year on frozen dinners, according to market research firm Euromonitor. That's a whole lot of lasagna, pizza, macaroni and cheese, and many, many other heat-and-eat entrees. The clear brand leader in the frozen dinner category is Stouffer's, which has a larger share of the market than its three closest competitors combined."

And Stouffer's is owned by Nestle, which had 27 percent of the frozen dinner market in 2012, according to the Los Angeles Times.

And that explains why Nestle came out with a survey on frozen food use.

It doesn't explain, however, why, according to that survey, 23 percent said they prepare frozen meals at work and 14 percent said they have "accidentally" stolen a frozen meal from the freezer at work. Again, those ages 18 to 24 are more likely to be less honest with frozen food. Twenty-seven percent of young people admit they ate somebody else's frozen food.

There is no separate data to see how often Hot Pockets were stolen by accident.

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