New research from the Nielsen Co. reveals that US consumers are staying in and cooking instead of eating out, but they're also focusing more on the quality as well as the cost of the meals that they prepare at home.

According to Nielsen data collected through September 2009, they're buying more perishables like bread and baked goods, fresh meat and seafood, deli items and fresh produce.

But as former restaurant-goers stay home for dinner -- the survey found that 46 percent of Americans are eating out less -- they're also making more conscientious food purchases, buying more vegetables and fruits as well as value-priced pre-prepared meals.

The survey found that over half (51 percent) of all meat and seafood is purchased when it's on sale and that 41 percent of consumers take note of products that are on sale as well as in-store promotions.

The data also revealed that supermarkets are dominating the marketplace compared to supercenters, with a 70 percent share of meat and seafood sales and 50 percent of deli business. Some produce units at the 25 top retailers included posted 10-20 percent gains, according to the report.

And consumers are also using online food resources for meal planning, supermarket-specific meal planning i-Phone apps (Meijer, Whole Foods) and they are increasingly avid watchers of Food Network cooking programs, according to Nielsen researchers.