Britons are Europe's biggest spenders when it comes to eating out, according to a survey from researcher Datamonitor.
Its latest poll has found that Britons spend an average of £312 per person a year eating out, and that this will rise to £356 by 2009.
The next highest are the Italians, but they do not top the £300 mark, coming in at £295. The French are third on £249.
More meals are now eaten away from the home than around the dinner table, Datamonitor said.
By 2008, three billion extra breakfasts, lunches and evening meals will be eaten in the UK out-of-home compared with last year, it added.
The report also found that eating out was no longer something confined to Friday or the weekend, and the number of midweek evening eating-out occasions was forecast to rise by 30% over the next five years.
"The time pressures of everyday life have meant that eating out in the week has become a habitual self-indulgence for many," said report author Daniel Bone, consumer markets analyst at Datamonitor.
People wanted to make the best use of their time, and going out in the week allowed them to socialise without the hassle of cooking, he added.
"The traditional boundaries between food service and retail are becoming increasingly blurred," Bone added.
by Nic Paton