High food prices spark appetite for budget recipes from food writers

Rising food costs mean everyone is paying more to prepare meals, including people who submit recipes.

Cookbook author and TV host Mary Berg says a combination of rising food prices and concerns about the economy has ‘thrown our feet to the bottom for everyone’ when he is about people thinking about what they spend on groceries.

« People don’t cook at home to spend money, » said Berg, who adjusts her own grocery shopping habits based on changing prices.

She and other food writers also take a hard look at what really needs to go in a recipe – and how people cook and adapt under current circumstances.

WATCH | How Canadians are coping with rising food prices:

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Major grocery chains say shoppers should expect even higher food prices in the coming weeks. Shoppers on the streets of Toronto told CBC News what this could mean for their food budget.

Rising grocery prices lead to a change in the kitchen

Berg has been trying to keep a budget-conscious approach to developing recipes for some time now — including taking into account what people need to cook at home during the pandemic.

« I’ve kind of been streamlined towards more budget-conscious foods, » Berg said, noting that if she’s developing a recipe that involves a more expensive ingredient, it needs to have a purpose in the dish.

« If I present an expensive ingredient – whether it’s a protein or maybe something like a niche seasoning or something – I try to offer a reason why it’s expensive…or I’ll give you options. on how to use these things in other recipes. »

A smiling woman with long brown hair and glasses cuts strawberries with a small knife.
Cookbook author and TV host Mary Berg says a combination of rising prices and concerns about the economy means people are thinking more about meal planning and budget-conscious cooking. « People don’t cook at home to spend money, » she noted. (Mary makes it easy)

Shahir Massoud, a Toronto chef and cookbook author, said food prices are definitely « a priority » these days, and while there are limits to the substitutions that can be made for certain foods and recipes, he probably wouldn’t offer « risotto with black truffles » in a cookbook right now.

He says people compiling recipes for cookbooks may want to use « less caviar and more creativity » because cost-effective cooking ideas « never go out of style » and publishers generally seek cookbooks with long-term appeal.

Anne-Marie Bonneau, author born in Ontario and residing in San Francisco The zero-waste chef: cutting-edge recipes and tips for a sustainable kitchen and planetsaid rising prices could cause people to « rethink the way we cook and consume, the way we shop ».

« It’s tough, really tough, for a lot of people, » Bonneau said, noting that through her Zero-Waste Chef blog, she’s seen how the pandemic has influenced what people are looking for — like recipes for sourdough or advice on how to reduce food waste.

One of her most recent articles was about making cookies with sourdough and flax eggs – a vegan egg substitute made from ground flax seeds and water – a substitute that she says could of interest to readers due to soaring egg prices in the United States.

A woman with shoulder-length black hair smiles for a portrait.
Food writer Anne-Marie Bonneau, known for her blog and book Zero-Waste Chef, says now may be the time to « rethink the way we cook and consume, the way we buy ». (Daniela Roberts)

She has also written about finding uses for random fruits and vegetables and using « cooked leftovers » in pastries, galettes and hand pies.

Ultimately, Bonneau says « the whole kitchen zeitgeist » could change, with a greater emphasis on accessibility and affordability when it comes to what’s being done in the kitchen.

Cookbooks are slower to reflect challenges

Because it takes about two years for a cookbook to reach consumers in stores, literary agent Carly Watters says it could be a while before today’s challenges are reflected in this. which is published, unless such a project has been in progress for some time.

« They take a long time because there’s so much to do, » said Watters, who helped sell Bonneau’s book.

Massoud — whose cookbook Eat, Habibi, Eat! was published in 2021 – estimates it would take nearly a year to come up with 100 new recipes for a cookbook.

« Even that, when you do the math, it’s at a pretty torrid pace, » he said.

A man smiles as he stirs food in a frying pan above a stove.
Toronto chef and cookbook author Shahir Massoud says it usually takes about two years to produce a cookbook. (Submitted by Shahir Massoud)

According to Watters, the authors ready to take advantage of the current moment are those who have books already in print that have themes like economical cooking.

Last year, Berg – whose latest version, Well seasonedwon a gold medal at the Taste Canada Awards — completed the manuscript for a cookbook due out this fall and says she had food cost concerns in mind when she wrote it writing.

« I have little flags on almost every recipe – you get what you pay for, so cheap [considerations]reducing food waste,” she said.

Canadian bookseller Indigo told CBC News that over the past year it has not seen an increase in sales of cookbooks focusing on budget recipes – but it says the British chef’s latest release Jamie Oliver, Onewas the most popular book in this category.

On Amazon, a handful of the 10 best-selling cookbooks of the moment focus on preparing meals with air fryers or Dutch ovens — tools that can be used for batch cooking — while several others focus on basic cooking skills.


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