Consumers continued to feel the crunch of inflation in 2023, with costs rising across the board, impacting food, fuel, utilities, health and beauty, and medical and pharmaceutical markets, among others. Still, consumers are finding ways to enjoy “little luxuries,” or purchases that don’t cost much but impart small doses of pleasure.

These minor splurges range from gourmet coffee or artisanal chocolates to fresh flowers, fancy French soaps, upgraded bedding, or a day at the spa. Occasional treats help consumers feel like they’re working to live, rather than the other way around, without the threat of busting the budget.

Mindful indulgence takes the concept of little luxuries to the next level by finding ways to incorporate affordable luxury into daily life instead of just once in a while. The food market offers unique opportunities in this vein.

Restaurants, grocers, and food and beverage manufacturers can steer consumers toward options that add a feeling of luxury to the everyday task of fueling one’s body. All you have to do is come up with innovative and affordable upgrades to simple meals.


 Water Reimagined

While not everyone diligently observes the 64-ounce-a-day rule, plenty of people try to drink adequate water. Why do people struggle to ingest this essential substance? It’s often because they find it tasteless and boring compared to other options.

Upgrading could be as easy as adding powdered or liquid flavoring to a glass of water, but options like coconut water are also incredibly popular. The latest trend in water alternatives is cacao water.

Made from traditionally discarded by-products of chocolate production, this beverage essentially features the leftovers of the cacao plant — the fruit that surrounds the coveted bean. Surprisingly, it doesn’t have a chocolatey flavor but a mildly sweet tang reminiscent of lemons and vanilla.

Packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and electrolytes, this cold-press beverage is slightly hazy and totally refreshing. It’s hydrating, high in dietary fiber, and low in calories.


Related: Quenching the Thirst for Flavor: Exploring the Latest Flavored Water Trends


Upscale Snacks

Meal prep and daily cooking are fine for some people, but others would rather go full carpet picnic with artfully arranged finger foods. 

The trend in charcuterie boards has undergone several iterations over the last few years, moving from traditional meats and cheeses to butter boards, dessert boards, seasonal char-spookeries, and versatile “girl dinner” platters.

What’s next? It may be skipping meats and cheeses in favor of vegan options, including fresh fruits and veggies, dried fruits and nuts, bread or crackers, and dips like hummus, olive tapenade, and cashew cream. Vegan meats and cheeses could also make an appearance, although char-fruiterie boards are currently on the rise.


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Canned Seafood

Shelling out for halibut, swordfish, or even salmon might go beyond the budget for some shoppers, but canned fish, from tuna and salmon to sardines and anchovies, is incredibly affordable, not to mention versatile. A weekday workhorse like canned tuna or salmon can add protein to avocado toast or an herb-laden Green Goddess salad.

With the right seasoning, canned fish makes for a tasty taco filling, a savory addition to pasta recipes, or the centerpiece of a rice bowl (think poke with canned fish). 

Canned lobster and crab meats, and even canned caviar, are enjoying a moment, contributing to appetizers, salads, snacks, and entrees.

When fresh or frozen fish options are too spendy, canned seafood offers a way to enjoy this protein at far less cost. You just have to let consumers know how to elevate it with upscale applications.


Find Easy Ways to Upgrade

If you’re looking to corner the market on mindful indulgences, the easiest way is to update a classic with modern sensibilities in mind. Inspired, flavorful, and sustainable additions that increase convenience and elevate experience without a ton of extra cost are bound to gain consumer attention.


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