What we'll be eating, and how, in 2021

Fountainpencreator

2020 threw away plenty of previsions. The pandemic and subsequent crisis of the sector left many food bloggers and journalists clueless on what could happen. 2021 seems to be a return to normality but given the previous year, it's hard if not downright impossible to see where the food industry is going.

I'm not going to make any more previsions than I already did in the previous article. This is instead a reflection, collecting researches, trends, filled with my observations on what we'll be eating, and how, in 2021.

Eating at home

Pandemic or not, eating at home provides a series of advantages over eating out that for many people are vital: cheaper, relaxing, fun, a good way to do something with friends or relatives. In times where many businesses are in danger of even simply surviving and people can't meet as easily, saving some money and being able to host your friends safely at home are big pluses.

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Photo by Mathilde Langevin on Unsplash

Recipe apps and websites are supposed to boom after 2020, which only reinforces the concept: many of us have learned to cook or have increased their time cooking in 2020, and aren't going to go back to eat out all the time, suddenly, once the lockdown restrictions are fully lifted.

But if you aren't inclined to cook, or you have attempted and failed (no shame about that, I've personally had plenty of blunders last year too), the food delivery and the phenomenon of ghost kitchens, which are restaurants that are delivery-only, can provide a superb alternative for the less skilled cooks among us. It's still eating at home, without the money saving part.

An in-between solution between ordering food and cooking it yourself are the meal kits. US-based Blue Apron company, first launched in 2012, struggled to gain traction for years with their business model: selling kits of pre-weighted ingredients to make a full meal yourself. The company got a boost thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and plenty of competitors rose to the fore. The meal kits are an interesting combination of letting you do the cooking, and cleaning, but with the help of preselected recipes that go well with your particular diet. Famous chefs even, like Carlo Cracco, have launched their meal kit, in a growing attempt to diversificate their earnings, impaired by the lockdowns. And if even a Michelin-starred chef needs to, guess how much your local pizzerias does too.

What about alcohol?

No meal is perfect without the right drink pairing. That often means the right beer/wine. Given that bars aren't going to operate as easily as in 2019 for quite a while still, options to get your alcoholic fix online have thrived in 2020. According to Wine Monitor of Nomisma and Nielsen, purchases of wine online alone have grown 102% in the first semester of 2020 compared to the same period of 2019. It's not absurd to envisage that the trend will continue in 2021 too.

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Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Companies like WinePlatform and Tannico plan to bridge the void left by restaurants and let consumers order their favorite wine directly from the farmers. And if you are in need of a constant fix of fresh wines, subscription models have been launched.

For those into spirits, it's hard to not think your Instagram feed wasn't hit with a few ads of Whisky or Gin subscription boxes in 2020. Whether you prefer whisky or gin, there's a subscription model for you.

Thus, whatever you drink, doing it in the safety of your house, having always a fresh proposal to try, and saving some money in the process, is something any alcohol lover should consider in 2021.

A couple of new trends that may become big in 2021

Double dinners anyone? No, it's not eating twice the amount of food for your dinner, even if you aren't forbidden to do so. Double dinners are born out of the desire to travel that has been greatly limited, or negated, throughout 2020. It means restaurants that offer a double cuisine menu, where you can choose among different options involving two types of cuisines, from very distant countries possibly.

You may end up eating an East-European soup as your entree along with a steak from Brazil as your main or eating a well-made Carbonara (a rarity...) followed by a Japanese ice cream. It is definitely not the same as actually traveling but for many it can feel like a good idea to eat a comforting dish, one we already know and love, along with a new one, as yet undiscovered by our senses.

Considering the remote life many of us started in 2020 and will continue in 2021, a precise, never changing, time to have lunch is not a given anymore. It's much easier to fall into the productivity tunnel and have a late lunch these days than it was in a regular office job. Plus, restaurants aren't allowed to remain open very late in the evening, in some areas 6pm is the maximum, and the idea of merging lunch and dinner becomes more enticing.

Dunch, lunch + dinner, means having a very late lunch that is larger and with more dishes that you'd usually have at dinner time. It is a bridge of the two meals, cutting away time that would otherwise be spent on two separate occasions, and allowing some restaurants to offer their dinner menu to lunchers as well. Brandon Boudet, executive chef and co-owner of Little Dom’s in Los Angeles, first noticed this new trend. Possibly one of the biggest new ways of how we'll be eating in 2021.

2021 is open for experimenting

Whatever new way and food we are going to be eating in 2021, it feels like a year for experimenting. 2020 hit us and the food industry hard but new ideas and possibilities emerged from the difficult times, as they always do, and we may be seeing a very interesting, diverse, challenging 2021. I'm personally excited to discover how the industry will recover and what new products, services, and recipes will be introduced to open new market's opportunities and satisfy our desire, as consumers, of having filling, satisfying, inspiring foods we can cook and eat.

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