We all know the economy is a little shaky right now. But that doesn’t mean that cuisines are going to die off! In fact, with the rising interest in less expensive food like a food affair yelp, people are actually eating out more than ever. Cuisine isn’t slowing down — it’s just getting cheaper and better suited to today’s lifestyle.

So how do these changes affect cuisine? We take a look at what happened with cuisines during the Great Depression and why they’re likely to survive another recession today.

1. Cuisines adapt.

During the Great Depression, many cuisines changed drastically. Americans turned to homegrown food and recipes that used less expensive ingredients (like apples instead of imported peaches). And some cuisines disappeared completely (think rarebit — a celebratory meal of Welsh rabbit cooked in ale, which became an indulgence of the rich during the Depression). But certain cuisines survived because they were flexible and adaptable, or because they had enough loyal customers to keep them afloat.

These types of cuisines are resilient enough to make it through another recession. For example, diners will continue to eat healthy foods like salads and light soups — even if prices go up on meat and fresh produce.

2. Cheaper ingredients, better food.

We’ve already seen the start of this trend — during the Great Depression, American families made bread with milk and flour instead of eggs and butter. And that hasn’t changed — today, it’s still cheaper to make a casserole with milk than it is to buy a pound of cheese. But it’s also easier to cook that same recipe more quickly and get more servings out of each ingredient.

Cheaper cooking isn’t just good for the economy; it also means that you don’t need as much money to put healthy meals on the table. With a few creative substitutions, you can still prepare delicious dishes like lamb chops grilled in rosemary butter! 

3. There’s a better way to eat.

Compared to the past, today’s recipes are a mix of planning and improvisation. It’s no longer necessary to use recipes as your only guide — almost every new cook can find inspiration on the Internet. And not only are you able to make more food with less money, but you’re also able to tailor your menu based on what ingredients you actually have in stock. For example, instead of making chicken soup from scratch from scratch, you can get instant gelatin and make chicken noodle soup instead (just take out the carrots and celery).

4. People want healthier options at lower prices.

Though the recession has made it slightly harder to stick to a budget, people are still interested in eating healthy foods. They’re just not willing to pay expensive prices for lean meats or fish.

Cuisines that help people prepare food without meat (vegetarian and vegan dishes) will continue to be popular. And even if you do want the best cuts of beef, you can still make them yourself with less expensive ingredients — think ground beef instead of steak.

5. Gourmet dining is dying out…

The average supermarket now offers more exotic ingredients than your typical gourmet store. You can find almost every spice imaginable, plus an affordable selection of herbs and sauces — everything you need to add flavor without breaking the bank. And you can use your spice rack to add flavor to recipes of all types, whether they’re American or inspired by other parts of the world.

Supermarkets also provide more than just food — they also carry health magazines and helpful tips that can make a healthier lifestyle easier. You don’t have to pay extra for a store that specializes in healthy meals — you can find everything you need in your local supermarket, if you know where to look.

6. …but you still need special ingredients…

There’s no doubt that more people are eating out today than ever before, but the recession hasn’t made restaurant dining any cheaper. If anything, their prices have gone up (unless they’re offering specials). So while you can still eat out, you need to be willing to pay more for better ingredients.

Light soups and salads aren’t going anywhere because they’re healthy and don’t require expensive ingredients. But if you want to cook a steak (and the economy allows for it), you’ll need premium cuts of meat and organic produce (and the extra cost will show up on your paycheck).

7. …but you can still indulge occasionally!

Supermarket food is also healthier and cheaper than most restaurants . Even though it might not be as fun , it’s a great source for healthy meals that are tasty and inexpensive — especially if you make your own salad vinaigrette.

You might also consider making a few dishes at home (like those meatloaf and shepherd’s pie recipes) instead of running to the restaurant. And you can even try cooking a special dish for company! If you don’t have time to cook, fast food restaurants are also offering healthy options — just be sure to read the ingredients to avoid hidden calories.

8. Trendy cuisines will continue to be popular…

In these tough economic times, new cuisines are popping up all over the place (and thanks to high-speed Internet, recipes are easy enough for most people to access). Some of them will be trendy for a few years. But the trends that people rely on for years and years are the ones that use minimal ingredients and are easy to prepare.

Conclusion:

The good news is that you can get healthy food at a lower price. The bad news is that the recession has made it tougher to make those purchases — which means that some healthy meal plans might have to be cut.

But don’t give up hope! You can still eat healthy and save money, even if you’re limited on what ingredients you can buy. Stop worrying about dumping a bunch of money into the special ingredients that are only available during the recession (like organic produce). Instead, focus on using every bit of every ingredient in your regular weekly meal plan.

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