New food trend found in freezer aisle

"People have more of a shopping list than ever before. They are using more coupons, and I am also seeing people being inventive," said Phil Lempert, market analyst.

Lempert says we will continue to worry about our bottom line, but taste, nutrition, and convenience top the trends.

"We're seeing more people buying micro-waveable foods and bringing them to work with them," said Lempert.

According to one survey, 50 percent of us are now brown bagging for lunch, so we're looking for a new source of fast food -- often in the freezer aisle.

"I don't think people are prepping in the kitchen, I think they're assembling. They're getting two or three cans- maybe something frozen and putting it all together," said Lempert.

Dietitian Ashley Koff says while it is harder to eat healthy it isn't impossible.

"I am a huge Costco shopper. I take people to the frozen section and I show them there bags are this big of frozen vegetables, so don't tell me you can't afford good quality vegetables," said Koff.

Koff also sites Stevia and Agave syrup as two emerging sweeteners. Both Coke and Pepsi are experimenting with zero calorie Stevia. Agave, which has similar calories as sugar, is beneficial because it doesn't spike blood sugar.

Still wanted, but pricey -- organic sales are down. What you will probably see is people picking produce that is locally grown, signifying perhaps a safer, more nutritious, yet not as expensive product.

Due to a host of health scares in '08, food safety is a huge issue.

"Just about every food from China we had problems with," said Lempert.

As a result, you'll see country of origin labels now on produce and meats along with the government sending new inspectors to China.

And when it comes to dining out, the top two trends are the use of locally grown produce and serving bite sized desserts.

Chefs are also concentrating on healthier kids meals and menu items aimed at those with food allergies. You'll see more of all of them in 2009.


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