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Fun Eats in Recessionary Times

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pizza.jpgLife has never gone by at a faster clip, and yet we are experiencing a return to dining at home due to the economic downturn.

This means that this year’s food trends are most likely to be centered around casual, comfort food that’s simple to prepare. The trick is making it healthier, too. Look at what’s being highlighted on menus and in food magazines lately: approachable (as in recognizable!), value-oriented foods like pasta, meatloaf, potatoes, slow-cooked foods and even finger foods.

The state of our economy could ultimately translate into healthier eating for many Americans. We’ll exchange expensive butter for olive oil; eat less meat and more veggies, sit down for meals cooked with ingredients we know about at home rather than dining out and assuming the entrée promoted as “Healthy” really is. Folks who did no more than “speed scratch” cook (using partially prepared ingredients to make a complete meal) are finding themselves experiencing the joy of cooking basic meals at home.

Crockpots are being pulled out of cupboards, dusted off and put to use making stews, chilis, soups and even ethnic fare. We’re opting to cook meals at home. There are calzones and pizzas cooked on the grill or in the oven, or salads with the previous meal’s featured protein tossed in. All of them are the perfect solution for using up those leftovers in the fridge. The whole family can get involved to make cooking fun, healthy and delicious.

So what’s the answer to that age-old question, “What’s for dinner?” It’s all about getting back to basics: Comfort food that’s a value, easy to prepare, great tasting and good for you. It doesn’t mean that “gourmet” will be thrown out the window, but “gourmet” might just translate into a pesto used as a base on a home-cooked pizza one night and as a marinade on chicken the next. You can still rely upon your favorite past food trends, but mix things up to create innovative, new comfort foods that you and your family will enjoy.

(photo courtesy of frizbeemom)

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