Instacart finds that healthy at-home meals are here to stay

(Photo by John Sciulli/Getty Images for Burt's Bees)
(Photo by John Sciulli/Getty Images for Burt's Bees) /

While many people might be longing for a seat at their favorite restaurant’s table, Instacart revealed a food trend that seems to have lost the “fad” label and has become a permanent lifestyle choice. Even though a classic comfort food might be that bite of nostalgia, the food has been transformed with a healthy eating twist. Although the phrase might sound too contrite, people are having their cake and eating it too.

Several years ago, the term plant-based food was that plate of tofu or maybe that black bean burger that needed additional condiment to enhance the flavor and hide the texture. Today’s shopping cart offers a bounty of options. With a multitude of brands in all the categories, the truth is that trend is not the correct label. It is just eating.

During the pandemic, Instacart found that “one in three customers had purchased a plant-based meat or milk product.” Whether those purchases were made on purpose, a desire to experiment or a want to adapt a different way of eating, the reality is that plant-based food is sits side by side with any other brand. It no longer is that forgotten category with a limited selection.

As Laurentia Romanuk, Instacart’s Trends Expert and Senior Product Manager said, “Plant-based food as grown from a niche category into a grocery staple over the past two years.” What started as searches for “healthy at home meals” has become a constant re-order.

Whether is it that purchase of an Impossible Burger or a bottle of Simply for that morning latte, it isn’t just a one-off purchase. The ease and convenience of having that “re-order” option turns a purchase into a habit. Even if the first purchase was a lark, the returning purchase proves that people are making a change.

At the same time, these plant-based food options aren’t total radical changes. Many people learned over the past year that small differences can and do make a lasting impact. Since it takes a long time to form a habit, the reality is that people have to start somewhere. Quite possibly, the world turning upside down was an opportunity to appreciate the hows and whys certain food choices have a greater impact.

For now, Instacart believes that the appreciation of healthy at-home meals are here to stay. Whether it is a new recipe that incorporates plant-based food or transforming a classic recipe to have a healthy eating twist, the habits have been formed and are here to stay.

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What changes have impacted the food that you eat and order? Are you still looking to add food trends to your next Instacart order or do you prefer to re-order from your favorites?