Most people say they'll continue to cook at home even after the pandemic ends, but East Texas restaurants will continue to benefit too.  This sounds like a win-win.

At the beginning of the pandemic last year when everything started shutting down, you probably saw grocery store shelves wiped clean of boxed meals like mac 'n cheese, Hamburger Helper, and ramen noodles.  I had a hard time finding canned tuna for a week or two.  Shoppers seemed to be grabbing anything shelf-stable that would do in a pinch last March, but as time went by we all got more creative and intentional about our food choices.  We started digging up new recipes and trying new things, and we developed habits that, apparently, we want to keep.

Seven out of ten people who started cooking more at home last year said they plan to keep it up when the pandemic lifts.  "Cooking" is kind of a vague term, and it could mean something simple like putting a lump of Velveeta in the crockpot.  Adding some Rotel tomatoes and stirring is three steps, and anything more than two is cooking!  But we've also gotten better at crafting cauliflower rice bowls with chicken and avocado, and we've been whipping up some pretty good stir fry.  Those are the habits that most home chefs plan to stick with.

Restaurants shouldn't be nervous though.  Lord knows we all need a break from cooking at times, and sometimes restaurant food just plain tastes better. A pile of brisket and sausage from Stanley's Famous Pit Barbecue is a glorious indulgence that can't be replicated at home, and nothing will stop us from having some once the craving strikes.

Take-out and delivery orders have increased over the past year, and those trends are expected to continue.  We might be at home, but that doesn't always mean we want to eat home food, and restaurants with great take-out and delivery services will do well in 2021.

This is all good news for East Texas restaurants and grocery stores.  Many things have slowed down, but that does not include our appetites. Bon Appetit!

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