In 2009, chefs and home cooks alike will turn to cheaper cuts of meat to save pennies.
It’s that time, when “experts” and the rest of us look ahead to what’s in store for the new year. And it would appear that my friends are bona fide trendsetters. Months ago, they started cooking up cheapo recession fare, and now they’ve challenged each other other to whip up dinner for less than $3 per serving (or is it $3 for both of them? Whatever, they’re doing it, albeit with mixed results).
People around the world are feeling insecure and are already looking to re-establish a sense of stability in their lives. A good home-cooked meal can do that.
They’re not the only ones coping with rising food costs and smaller budgets. Many food trends for 2009, not surprisingly, are driven by the current dour economy, which makes value-oriented items more appealing than ever. “People around the world are feeling insecure and are already looking to re-establish a sense of stability in their lives,” says Joan Holleran, director of research at the global trends research firm Mintel. One way to accomplish that is with the food you eat, and consumers will be more selective than ever about how they spend their money. James Oliver Cury of Epicurious predicts “value” will eclipse “sustainable” as the foodie buzzword of 2009. These are just a few ways the cheap-and-cheerful trend will manifest itself.
Comfort food still reigns supreme. You might think this has peaked, but consumers will crave familiar ingredients and dishes more than ever. Bon Appetit put peanut butter at the top of its list for 2009, along with eggs in any form. Both are inexpensive sources of protein. The magazine also predicts more restaurants will serve breakfast all day–always an affordable, filling, and comforting option. Overall, restaurant diners will favor bistro-type eateries serving familiar, high-quality, well-priced food. Expect spaghetti and meatballs to “make a roaring comeback,” according to restaurant consultants Baum & Whiteman.
Beware, billy: Food watchers say goat meat may go mainstream in 2009.
Cooks will use cheaper cuts of meat. The National Restaurants Consultants forecasts the price of beef will skyrocket, making less-expensive cuts–short ribs, hanger steaks, brisket, chuck roasts, and the like–a better buy. These cuts typically are tougher, but long, slow cooking techniques like braising, stewing, or pot roasting yield tender, hearty results. Other types of meat will go mainstream, too. Among them: goat, according to “trendologists” at the Center for Culinary Development. George Wilson, of the Australian Wildlife Services, has proposed promoting kangaroo as an environmentally friendly alternative to beef cattle; unlike cattle, kangaroos don’t produce methane and they have high levels of healthy fats.
Tip: When shopping for meat, remember anything with “loin” in the name = tender = more expensive. “Chuck” or “shoulder” = tougher = cheaper.
Look for offal recipes. Other cultures, especially those in Asia, have a long tradition of using all of the animal, because meat is considered too precious a resource to waste. American cooks are expected to adopt a similar “nose-to-tail” approach, making use of everything from cheeks and tongue to tripe and trotters.
Indulgences won’t go away, but they will shrink. The expense of food may help all of us with portion control. If a beef is expensive, for example, we may opt for the occasional 4-ounce serving of pricey tenderloin. The high cost of ingredients is driving more restaurants to add small-plate options to their menus.
Type in your ZIP code at Ueatcheap.com to map out meals under $10.
We’ll share information to find affordable meals. Call it Eating 2.0, but diners will continue to flock to the Web in search of the good, cheap eats. Sites like Slashfood, Serious Eats, and Eater LA (and its sisters Eater NY and Eater SF) specialize in content by and for avid foodies while users rate restaurants on Yelp and Ueatcheap.com,
People will stay home. Although restaurateurs will do their best to lure customers with bargains, most of us are likely to dine out less and eat in more in 2009. Analysts at Mintel forecast more entertaining at home while the folks at UK-based thefoodpeople predict we’ll whip up cocktails at home rather than hit the bars.