8 Hot New Food Trends — The Frugal Way
It seems there’s always a new health food trend going on, and companies are quick to capitalize by conveniently packaging and offering them on store shelves for us to try. Unfortunately, trying what's new and different isn't always affordable. You're in luck, though. Here are the trends, and how you can enjoy them on the cheap.
1. Wellness beverages
The chilled beverage sections at your grocery store are probably teeming with new tonics and juices. Many of them include ingredients like turmeric, vinegar, and maca. There are even beverages that contain medicinal mushrooms! While this is all very interesting and even quite tasty, these drinks come at a premium — costing anywhere from $5–$14 per bottle.
I make my own vinegar-infused beverage at home. It actually tastes a lot like kombucha, just at a fraction of the cost. First, I crack open a can of my favorite sparkling water from Aldi, usually lemon or lime. Then I pour it over a tablespoon of Aldi's organic apple cider vinegar. Mix and enjoy.
2. Oily byproducts
A company called Eco Olea has made a variety of house cleaners using the water that's left over after making olive oil. Another company is using the liquid from cooking chickpeas to make vegan mayonnaise. Incorporating byproducts into new products is definitely on the rise, and it's great to see that less is going to waste.
How can you try this trend at home? Stop before you toss the liquid you drained from that can of chickpeas. That gooey stuff is called aquafaba, and there are many good things you can make with it. Try this vegan chocolate pudding made from aquafaba. Sounds strange, but when you combine it with dark chocolate, maple syrup, and vanilla extract? Delicious.
3. All things coconut
You've probably tried coconut water and coconut oil to see what all the fuss is about. This year, the coconut is expanding its horizons. You can buy coconut flour, coconut chips for baking, and a whole host of other products. While coconut flour costs about $3 a pound, prepackaged foods made with this ingredient are even steeper.
Here's an easy recipe for homemade coconut flour tortillas. You need just three ingredients: coconut flour, eggs, and nondairy milk. It only requires a half cup of flour. Whisk the ingredients together. Then heat a skillet and cook it like a very thin pancake, flip, and fill with your favorite hummus or whatever else you like wrapped up. (See also: The Best Credit Cards for Groceries)
4. Purple foods
You may have heard that you should eat the rainbow — vibrant, fresh veggies that come in all colors. In 2017, the color everyone seems to be focusing on is purple. You can find purple cauliflower, purple potato chips, purple corn, purple asparagus, and much more at your local grocery store.
If you want to try this one at home, try making this gorgeous purple sweet potato pie. If you don’t want to deal with the almonds and dates for the crust, you can always stick with a traditional pie crust out of flour and butter. It will still look gorgeous.
5. Healthier pastas
You can find pasta made from chickpeas, lentils, and quinoa on shelves at the store. If you take a walk around the produce section, you may even see some varieties of spiralized vegetable "pastas" that are healthy alternatives to the traditional noodles we all know and love. I'm especially flabbergasted by the price of the spiralized noodles because produce can be quite cheap when it's in season.
The up-charge is all about the noodle-making process. And that's an easy at-home thing you can do yourself. Invest in a spiralizer, and you'll be set with beet and zucchini noodles for life.
6. Unique condiments
My husband and I are addicted to interesting condiments. But I can't say it's good for our wallets. These days, you can find anything from ghee with pink Himalayan sea salt to pomegranate molasses to chipotle adobo sauce. One way I like to save on these splurges is to check out what our local Home Goods (a discount store) has on the shelves. I can often find condiments a few dollars cheaper than they might be at the grocery store.
Making your own cool condiments is another option. Buying ghee at the store can cost around $1.20 an ounce. You can make it at home for around 67 cents an ounce. Just get eight ounces of a good-quality organic butter and heat it over low heat in a medium saucepan. Continue cooking until the milk solids turn brown and fall to the bottom of your pan, around 10 minutes. Then pour through cheesecloth into a glass jar for safekeeping. This makes five ounces of ghee.
7. Meal kits
Eating out can be expensive. But making everything from scratch can be time-consuming and messy. Many people are turning to meal kits you can easily toss in the oven. You can find some awesome vegetable mixes in the freezer section that won't break the bank. Others include pasta and even meat for a no-fuss meal. Just check your prices carefully and take advantage of coupons and store sales when you can.
You may also want to try make your own meal kits. Sure, the process takes some effort — but it will save you time and money in the long run. I actually tried this method out last month when I made a bunch of "dump meals" to stash in my freezer. I'm hooked. It's seriously as easy and opening cans, chopping stuff, and tossing it in a bag to freeze for later cooking in the Crock-Pot.
8. Japanese food
Japanese foods are becoming more popular, as well. But move over sushi, the trend this year is going beyond the roll. Check out ingredients like miso, seaweed, and mirin. Have you ever heard of Japanese-style pickles? I hadn't either, and now I'm utterly intrigued.
My own family regularly eats udon noodles with our stir-fries. This ends up being cheaper than buying Japanese takeout because we get a huge bag of stir-fry veggies in the freezer section and buy tofu in bulk. We also like incorporating miso into our meals — a little goes a long way. Try a miso-tahini dressing on anything from roasted sweet potatoes to salads. Combine a quarter cup tahini with just one tablespoon miso. Then add in lemon juice, warm water, and cracked pepper. You'll enjoy the flavor every day!
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