It’s hard to remember how things were before this whole pandemic turned our lives upside down. From meeting up with a group of friends for dinner to just popping into the local joint, things are just not the same. But is this the new normal?

We started cooking in our own kitchens again

For a long time now, we have relied on restaurants and fast-food joints for most of the food we consume. The sudden limitation on food services and deliveries, limited seating capacity, and fears of the corona virus and the effect it could have on use, led us to go back to our own kitchens for inspiration. Also, the financial strain that many experienced as a result of job cuts and reduced hours forced us to become innovative. As result, many discovered a new passion for cooking (or renewed an old flame!). Now, many of us prefer eating at home over a nice sit-down.

Comfort food became a reality!

There is a reason why we love food so much: it comforts us. This is especially true in times of stress and uncertainty, and the COVID pandemic made sure there was enough worry to go around. Thus, together with restaurant shutdowns forcing us into our own kitchens, we developed a new fervor for breadmaking (hello sourdough!), made some whipped coffee, and even invented some new comfort dishes such as chaffles (cheese waffles)!

We channeled our inner chef

During lockdown, we all found ourselves having to make more with what we already had. And actually, for most us we already had a lot on hand! Moreover, we suddenly found ourselves with more time on our hands than usual, and as a result we had more time to experiment. But as it goes, we always try to find shortcuts, and pretty soon people found all kinds of ways to speed up the cooking process, such using microwaves, air fryers, or pressure cookers more often.

We grew our cooking skills thanks to Zoom

It is an interesting thought to ponder how different things would have been had we not had modern technology on our hands. Online platforms such Zoom made things easier for us to stay connected, and pretty soon home-chefs were even organizing cook-a-longs with friends across the globe! This allowed our culinary skills to grow since we could now trade secrets, share some tips, or just plain experiment as much as possible with people we would likely have never met!

Everyone became aware of “food safety” (not just the food scientists!)

Although some of us were already in the habit of keeping our food safe and knew some run of the mill food pathogens like Salmonella and E. coli, the corona virus pandemic forced us to retrain our brains to be more conscious about microorganisms. This naturally translated into us becoming more aware of food safety. As such, many people have subsequently adopted quite stringent food safety protocols, which is a good thing.

We now appreciate the outdoors more

Lockdown gave us a greater appreciation for being outside. Having to spend such a long time indoors, we realized how much we took for granted our ability to move around freely and to be outside whenever we wanted to. As such, when time came for us to be released from lockdown, our gatherings were focused on being outside and dining el fresco — on our patios, on sidewalks, or even having picnic in the street. And some restaurants were quick to follow suite, offering a variety of outdoor dining experiences.

In-car dining became a neat outing

Who would have thought that drive-in movies were to make a comeback? And with them came car picnics. With social distancing being on everyone’s mind, it was an easy transition from dining at a sit down to dining in the comfort of your own vehicle. Moreover, new apps made it easier than ever to pick up our food without ever going into a restaurant.

Our phones became our menus

Speaking of apps, by far one of the biggest things to emerge from 2020 was the heavy reliance on modern day tech. And our phones took center stage. Restaurants started offering their services through custom apps and pretty soon we were ordering from places via our phones that we never thought we would have. Menus eventually gave way and instead we started scanning QR codes for restaurant menus. Groceries? No problem, a tap and a click and you’re good to go!

We started caring more

Most of us, if not all, know a local joint or two that had to close down due to the financial losses incurred from the pandemic. This made us realize these places are not just lifeless brick and mortar, but people’s livelihoods. Moreover, they are part of our livelihoods. Thus, we started to ‘subscribe’ to buy some food every month from our favorite joints. And while it might not have seemed like much for us, it made a big difference in keeping afloat so many our beloved local watering holes.

We broadened our horizons

The options that became available to us in 2020 might not really be the ones we would naturally have chosen, but they became options nonetheless. And the options multiplied. Restaurants were forced to came up with many new and innovate ways to attract as many customers as possible. They created more delivery options, more meal kits, take-out options, in-home experiences…. the list goes on. And now that we are used this diversity of food options, we don’t want it to go away!