Top Thanksgiving trends of 2022 include value, convenience – USA TODAY

In 2022, we may be closer to a “normal” Thanksgiving since COVID threw the world into disarray, but let’s be honest, times are still tough. From the economy and politics, to worsening reports of burnout it can be hard to rally your spirits for the holiday season.
The silver lining of difficult times is they provide perspective. Around Thanksgiving, it makes it easier to focus on the friends, family and foods that really matter and let go of the rest. We see that outlook reflected in the top 2022 Thanksgiving trends, where simplicity, value and convenience are taking the place of previous years’ trends like fussy charcuterie boards and apple-flavored everything. 
Claire Lancaster, head of food and drink for forecasting company WGSN, walked USA TODAY through the top trends to expect at Thanksgiving tables this year. 
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The first thing consumers are going to be looking for ahead of Thanksgiving 2022 is value, Lancaster says.
Americans can expect to have a big helping of inflation on their plates throughout the holidays.  
The consumer price index rose at a 7.7% annual rate in the October inflation report, but most concerning to America’s home chefs: Food prices were up 11% from last year.   
The American Farm Bureau Federation’s 37th annual Thanksgiving dinner cost survey showed prices have jumped 20%.
Some retailers are offering to sell Thanksgiving meal items at last year’s cost, Lancaster says, and a good way to help ease the financial burden of hosting is to switch to a potluck-style meal. This could also be the year to consider chicken instead of turkey.
“Some of these price concerns are going to lead to some ingredients swaps,” Lancaster says. “So, we might see some consumers opting for things like a roast chicken rather than a full turkey.”
If you’re considering serving chicken, we love chef Samin Nosrat’s buttermilk roast chicken recipe. The author of “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat” made it so delicious the chicken can act as a centerpiece for any holiday meal.
“Premium convenience” is another interest area WGSN has noticed among consumers ahead of Thanksgiving. 
“Of course, price is a concern, but I think that the price of these individual actual ingredients to make things as well as the knowledge and the time and the effort that’s involved, is really leading people to go for these sort of prepared food items,” Lancaster says.
WGSN has seen that more classic, simple dishes like mashed potatoes are more likely to be made at home while consumers may opt to purchase heat-and-serve casseroles or elegant desserts.
“Simple vegetable-forward dishes that sort of highlight seasonal vegetables,” are another trend says Lancaster.
Scaled back vegetable dishes – think roast carrots, sautéed corn, balsamic Brussels sprouts – don’t cost much in terms of time or money, and they can satisfy guests with varying dietary needs.    
Simplicity can extend beyond the main course, too. Check out these Thanksgiving appetizer recipes that require 5 ingredients or less, including stuffed mushrooms and caprese skewers. 
Leaning into indigenous and regional foods will help certain consumers create new experiences and enjoy new flavors while also understanding more the roots of the holiday, Lancaster says.
“You’re also going to see more support for native or indigenous chefs who are creating offerings,” she continues, “And then the idea of decolonizing is highlighting dishes with things like game or fish or wild plants and heirloom ingredients and local produce that is sort of native to the regions that they’re in.”
And focusing on indigenous ingredients can actually help with meal value, too.
“So this also really can tie in with that price concern, because I think that a lot of these sorts of indigenous ingredients are also seasonal and can be grown locally, which can help with price as well,” Lancaster says.
“Diverse, multi-hyphenated American identities are sort of increasingly going to be represented on the Thanksgiving table,” Lancaster says.
This trend is chef-led, she continues, noting that its also happening in many households. A creation of products drawing on mixed culinary influences is emerging, inspired by global cuisine.
Marcus Samuelsson, chef, author and restauranteur behind New York City restaurants Red Rooster Harlem, tells USA TODAY sides are the best part of Thanksgiving for him because there’s more room to combine cultural flavors.
Bringing your own background and stories to the table is what makes Thanksgiving so special. Samuelsson, who was born in Ethiopia and raised in Sweden, recounted one of his first Thanksgivings to USA TODAY.
“I remember coming to New York, you know being a young cook in New York City — everyone came over to my apartment, but most of the cooks came from different places and (were) not New Yorkers,” he says. “And we ended up having maybe 10 different sides.”
There was turkey at the table, but the sides were the best part because people were sharing their stories and culture. Samuelsson is incorporating some of his own history into holiday cooking this year, too.
He’s created a meatball recipe of his own inspired by his grandmother’s recipe. It’s packed with flavor thanks to cumin and berbere (an Ethiopian spice blend of chiles, cinnamon and fenugreek, among others) and served with sweet-and-savory Brussels sprouts.
“I feel like when you cook for your holidays — when I cook for my family for for the holidays — you want to channel your family,” Samuelsson says.
Contributing: Jim Sergent, USA TODAY


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