Watch Out of Office on our YouTube Channel

Retro, Reimagined and Really Easy: Canada’s 2018 Food Trends

A resurgence of the leftover, retro-inspired dishes, cook-and-cut sheet meals, freak shakes and grow-it-yourself goodness – it’s all on the table for 2018.

Loblaw recently released their 2018 Canadian Food Trends – a prediction of what Canadians will be eating in the upcoming year, as forecasted by the Loblaw Food Council. The group is comprised of Canadian experts, including professional chefs, registered dietitians, academics and Loblaw colleagues.

For 2018, it’s all about a return to the past when it comes to food. “In an increasingly virtual world, Canadians are seeking food experiences that are novel, sensory and nostalgic. The faster the world changes, the more Canadians yearn for themes and variations on the familiar,” said Loblaw Food Council member Sanjay Khanna. This means replicating the signature dishes of childhood and generations past, but with a modern twist. “Canadians are looking to evoke a sense of nostalgia when it comes to their meals, but now benefit from unexpected ingredients and cooking tools that can help modernize these retro classics,” said Kathy Jollimore, chef, food stylist, food writer and Loblaw Food Council member. “For me, it’s about maintaining the great taste that you remember from when you were a kid, but reinventing it to make it a healthier and balanced meal.”

Many Canadians have developed a desire to eat local – and it doesn’t get more local than your own backyard or balcony. Whether you live in the middle of the urban concrete or in suburbia, an increasing number of Canadians are growing their own food. According to Loblaw, we can expect to see more of everything from backyard beehives and chicken coops, to balcony herb and spout gardens.

In effort reduce waste (and waistlines), we’re seeing an emphasis on right-size portioning, as opposed to plates full of supersized everything. Greater attention is now being paid to cooking what you know you can eat, rather than on going all out and filling plates. Also helping the minimal waste cause, Canadians will get creative with leftovers in 2018, seeking new ways to combine them to create tasty, easy-to-prep meals. Speaking of experimenting with food, Canadians will continue to play with dual-purpose ingredients, such as seaweed for both eating and skincare; and florals for flavoured teas, cocktails, baking and bath bombs.

Of course, there’s always room for indulgences – the more Instagram-worthy and talking point-filled the better. The milkshake, for example, is having a major moment, especially one that’s topped with things like Nanaimo bars, cakes and pies – A.K.A a freak shake. Conveniently corresponding with the year that pot becomes legal in Canada, another food trend involves the “wake and cake,” or cake in the morning. The mentality is that earlier you eat it, the more time you have to work it off. In terms of early eating, Canadians are also craving a breakfast that that is portable, high in protein and something that can be prepped the night before. We’re seeing more cook-and-cut sheet meals and the inclusion of non-traditional breakfast proteins like chicken, seafood and beans.

Meal kits will continue to be popular, with consumers looking for chef–inspired, great-tasting meal options that won’t take up too much time in the precious weekday. “Canadians are looking for shortcuts that lead them to a delicious home-cooked meal. Meal kits allow us to enjoy quick, healthy, fresh meals with minimal waste. The important thing is not the amount of time it takes to make a meal, but the end result,” said Jacob Richler, Founding Editor, Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants and Loblaw Food Council member. Beyond great recipes, consumers will be looking for value pricing, minimal packaging, more customization options and reduced subscription requirements when it comes to meal kits.

Canadians are more knowledgeable than ever about how their bodies work. According to Loblaw, with the updated Canada’s Food Guide, Canadians will desire an understanding of the changes and how they can incorporate revised nutrition guidance into their diets. Fat, according to Loblaw, no longer has the bad rep it once did. Now that we have more knowledge about good and bad fats (and countless amounts of information available at our fingertips), more Canadians are turning to fattier options like full-fat yogurt. As some fats become friendlier, sugar has become more of the enemy as attention turns to the effect of excessive sugar consumption on the body. Subsequently, consumers are looking for low-sugar foods, in addition to ways to reduce their sugar intake. They’re also paying more attention to the importance of gut health, resulting in an increase in the use of pre- and probiotics, as well as fermented foods.

Judging from the lifestyles of my friends and colleagues, it also looks like “going vegan” is far from a passing trend, Sunday night #mealprep is here to stay and nobody is going to get sick of poke or acai bowls any time soon.

Alex Richmond

Alex Richmond is a social media and contributing writer at Notable Life.