Much has changed over the past two years due to the pandemic: more people are eating at home, food delivery has become the norm, and the words “sourdough starter” have become part of our collective lexicon. In our new normal, many of the expected food trends for 2022 are related to the changes that being in a long-term pandemic has caused, while others are related to sustainability and health.
1. Comfort foods and nostalgia. Living during uncertain times has spawned the desire for a return to the familiar. Nostalgic foods, the traditional recipes like Grandma used to make, were definitely a trend over the past two years, and that should continue into this year. Being home more has prompted many folks to spend more time in the kitchen—turning to favorite family recipes. According to a survey by the International Food Information Council, around 25 percent of Americans reported eating more comfort foods as a response to the pandemic. This has also led to a surge in the release of nostalgic cookbooks.
Nostalgia has also been popular for cocktails and drinks. Remember (or maybe not) those drinks you had in college in the 1980s? Look for cocktails such as Long Island Ice Teas, Tequila Sunrises, and amaretto sours, but reimagined with less sugar, fresh juices, and quality spirits. Colorful, sweet drinks provide the comfort and familiarity that many are seeking during these challenging times.
2. Dining Out As an Experience. With many restaurants being closed for so long during the height of the pandemic and many people still apprehensive about dining out when there’s a surge in Covid-19 cases, a lot of restaurants are trying to make up for lost time and revenue. Not only will restaurants keep some of the changes that Covid precautions have brought, such as more outdoor dining and delivery and take-out options, but many will also be experimenting with ways to draw in more customers with themed menus, creative settings, prix-fixe menus (meal consisting of several courses served at a total fixed price), cooking classes, and other social-media-worthy moments.
3. Take-out and delivery will still be going strong. Restaurant pickup and delivery are not going anywhere. During the pandemic, restaurants pivoted to take-out and delivery in order to survive. Now, most have adopted these new services and have gotten more creative with them, offering curbside pick-up, delivery through all of the major food delivery apps, and special packages.
4. The revival of the dinner party. With the advent of Covid-19 vaccines, more people are ready to gather with friends once again. But most still want to gather carefully, so hosting dinner parties and food-centric gatherings have become increasingly popular, and will continue to be this year.
5. Eating less meat. A new trend that started in 2021 and will continue into this year is with people trying to eat less meat, dairy, and eggs, mainly to help the environment. Sometimes referred to as “reducetarianism,” it involves having meat only a couple of times per week, eating a more plant-based diet, and making choices such as almond or oat milk in place of cow’s milk. There are so many more vegan and vegetarian options available now that it’s easy to reduce the number of animal products you consume. Plant-based meat alternatives such as Impossible Meat or Beyond Burgers have become very popular and are widely available, even at many fast food establishments.
6. Mushrooms. Yes, those tiny little vegetables are trendy and will continue to be in 2022. Many consumers are looking for a meaty umami flavor without the meat and the calories, so mushrooms fit that bill. Look for mushrooms incorporated into alternative snacks like mushroom chips, mushroom tea, or mushroom jerky with more coming to the market.
7. Spicy foods. What started as a trend with the popularity of Sriracha a few years ago has continued to grow and expand when it comes to spices and spicy condiments. This trend will continue in 2022 with spicy condiments from all over the globe, such as gochujang, harissa, Schug, and sambal, used in all different types of dishes from eggs to sandwiches.