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Food trends for dining in or out in 2010

January 6, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
While the sluggish economy seems to be slowly recovering, people remain content to eat home a bit more than they did in past years. Yet surveys reveal they want more from home cooking."People are definitely eating at home more, but they're not stocking their pantries and they're just buying the necessities," described Heidi Diller, a dietician for Albertons.

While restaurants are smarting from the recent economic slump, grocery stores only slightly benefited from our return to the kitchen. Yet according to food forecasts, we want home cooking to be healthy, convenient, big on flavor and small in price.

Here's what else is cooking for 2010.

"One of the biggest changes that we're seeing is kind of a return to simplicity," said Krista Faron of Mintel, a global data monitoring service.

Faron added that along with good food, easy to read packaging is important to consumers as well.

"Consumers and shoppers don't want to be overwhelmed by a label. They want to look at the label and they want to understand what's inside," said Faron.

They are also looking for less packaging and lighter ingredients. Surprisingly, salt will be slashed but not broadly advertised as this mandate comes more from health advocates not consumers.

"One of the flavor trends we are looking at is cardamom for consumers who like Indian food," said Faron.

Strong aromatic cardamom is plentiful in ethnic food, but watch for it in chocolate, cookies, cereals and tea.

Sweet potato sales will continue to soar as will the popularity of products containing pomegranate.

"Value is still hot. Private label brands are coming into every aisle. They're either expanding and sometimes replacing national brands. That's we're seeing right now," described Diller.

From dish soap to snacks, private label or grocery's house brands edge out popular name brands as they've continued to show good value at a modest price point.

"Have you seen what's happening in the pet food aisle? They're humanizing the ingredients," said Diller.

Tuscan stew and steak Florentine? Woof. Unless you take your little dog Oscar to the market, this concept is marketing to tickle your taste buds.

And finally, this prediction might bring tears to Starbucks stockholders, but more adults are making their coffee at home.

The retail coffee market grew six percent in 2008 and it's growing. And with an increasing variety of options in the java aisle, the coffee house cappuccino is getting a run for its money.

Economists also project food prices to jump about six percent with some of biggest increases in milk, beef, pork, chicken and the products that contain them.