May 6, 2024

TF #046: The Return of Retro: Classic Food Trends Making a Comeback

TF #046: The Return of Retro: Classic Food Trends Making a Comeback

The Return of Retro: Classic Food Trends Making a Comeback

When it comes to trends, we see it all the time—what’s old often becomes new again. From comfort foods that remind us of simpler times to the revival of classic cooking techniques that get us back to basics, past food trends are re-emerging in kitchens and restaurants around the globe—and, not surprisingly, taking center stage for many heat-and-eat meal delivery services.  

These retro trends cater to nostalgia and reflect a growing desire for authenticity and sustainability. Here’s a look at some classic food trends that are coming back, offering exciting opportunities for meal delivery services to incorporate these beloved flavors and methods into your offerings. Start here: 

  1. Fermentation: A Healthy Revival

Long before refrigeration, fermentation was a key method for preserving food. Today, this ancient technique is making a significant comeback, driven by its health benefits — including improved digestion and enhanced nutrient absorption. Foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, and kombucha are now staples in the health-conscious consumer’s diet.

For meal delivery services, incorporating fermented foods into dishes taps into this health trend and adds a burst of flavor that can elevate any meal. By integrating these probiotic-rich foods into your offerings you can better cater to the wellness market while also differentiating your menus with unique, globally-inspired tastes that appeal to adventurous eaters looking for both health benefits and culinary innovation.

  1. Comfort Foods: A Taste of Home

The past few years have seen a surge in the popularity of comfort foods. Classics like meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, and pot pies are returning to the spotlight, providing a sense of solace and nostalgia. This trend offers an excellent opportunity for heat-and-eat meal services to introduce or reintroduce dishes that evoke fond memories, crafted with a modern twist or a healthier approach to appeal to today’s health-conscious consumer.

By updating these traditional recipes with organic ingredients, lower sodium, or plant-based alternatives, meal services can cater to both nostalgic desires and modern dietary preferences, effectively broadening their market appeal and satisfying diverse customer needs.

  1. Farm-to-Table: Sustainable and Local

The farm-to-table movement, which emphasizes local sourcing and relationships with local farmers, is experiencing a massive resurgence. This trend focuses on the freshness of ingredients and supports local economies. It’s an approach that tastes good and feels good, as it promotes sustainability. Meal delivery services can capitalize on this trend by highlighting local ingredients and seasonal selections, enhancing your brand’s commitment to sustainability and community support.

  1. One-Pot Meals: Simplicity Reigns

One-pot meals, a staple of many cultural cuisines, have become a popular trend for their simplicity and convenience. Dishes like stews, casseroles, and soups are perfect for busy consumers looking for easy, delicious meal options. For meal delivery businesses, offering a variety of one-pot meals can simplify production while appealing to your customers looking for classic, delicious dining options. This approach not only streamlines your kitchen operations but also meets the growing demand for comfort food that is both satisfying and easy to prepare, thereby boosting customer satisfaction and retention.

  1. Whole Foods: Back to Basics

The shift towards whole, minimally processed foods is part of a backlash against the highly processed foods that dominated previous decades. Consumers are increasingly seeking meals that include whole grains, unprocessed proteins, and natural sweeteners. This trend aligns perfectly with your meal delivery model, which can easily incorporate whole ingredients into its menus to cater to health-focused individuals. By highlighting these wholesome offerings, you can appeal to a growing segment of consumers who prioritize nutritional value and ingredient transparency, thereby enhancing your brand’s appeal and trustworthiness.

  1. Retro Desserts: Sweet Nostalgia

Retro desserts are enjoying a moment, with treats like Baked Alaska, banana splits, and classic puddings popping on menus. These desserts not only offer the comfort of nostalgia but also provide an opportunity for creative presentation. Your meal delivery services can try integrating these classic desserts—and depending on your business model, can even look to integrate a healthier ingredient list or a unique twist on the original. Incorporating these time-honored sweets can attract a broad audience, from millennials seeking a taste of the past to older generations yearning for a slice of childhood.

  1. Canning and Preserving: DIY Flavor

The art of canning and preserving food is seeing a revival among modern-day cooks who appreciate the ability to capture peak-season flavors. This method aligns with the sustainable eating trend, reducing food waste and extending the culinary enjoyment of seasonal produce. Meal delivery services can incorporate preserved ingredients to enhance flavor profiles and offer a unique selling point that distinguishes them from competitors. By featuring these preserved delights, such as sun-dried tomatoes, pickled vegetables, or fruit compotes, businesses can add depth to their dishes and appeal to eco-conscious consumers who value both taste and sustainability.

  1. Molecular Gastronomy: Science Meets Cuisine

While not an old trend per se, molecular gastronomy is making a comeback as diners and chefs continue to explore the science behind their food. This approach transforms flavors and presentations using innovative cooking techniques and chemical reactions. For a meal delivery service, offering a kit that allows food enthusiasts to experiment at home could tap into the market of culinary adventurers.


These trends are just the beginning. But as we’re seeing more and more, as these food trends from the past make their resurgence, meal delivery services have a unique opportunity to blend traditional flavors with modern conveniences. By incorporating these trends into your offerings, your can satisfy subscribers’ nostalgic cravings while still catering to contemporary desires for health, convenience, and sustainability. The key to success in this dynamic market will be a thoughtful combination of respecting the past and embracing the future, creating a menu that is as comforting as it is exciting.

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