by Charlotte Beal
Four months before the Great Recession became official, I penned what I pegged a top trend for 2009: “Buying Out,” or consumers engaging in deconsumption to save money, lighten the load on the planet and amp independence. Now Iconoculture is seeing this play out in categories from fashion to transportation, but food and beverage is off the charts.
Consumers, it has become clear, are cooking more at home to save money. Even highfalutin restaurant-style dishes are less expensive when DIY’d, but not all shoppers are heading out to buy new ingredients to replicate tasty Food Network meals. Indeed, many people can’t help but notice that when they open the fridge or pantry, lots of food is peering back at them. Hence, the rise of viral “use what you’ve got” challenges.
First, green blogger Crunchy Chicken began the Food Waste Reduction Challenge. The idea: Take a month to put the almost-expired foods in your kitchen at the top of the meal-priority list. Hundreds of followers jumped on board. Then, Washington Post food blogger Kim O’Donnel (A Mighty Appetite) started the Eat Down the Fridge Challenge, which spawned a Facebook group. Object: Take a week off from food shopping and use what you have on hand.
Lesson? Leftovers are the hot new commodity, and shoppers — while shopping less — are still looking for partners in the business of rounding out and planning the family feeds.