There are plenty of food modifications for Minecraft- but most of them add a frankly ridiculous amount of foods that are kind of overwhelming to work with.I like Culinary Construct in that it adds modular foods such as sandwiches and soups; but it still only goes so far. There has to be a happy medium between something that revamps a food system that mostly encourages players to eat the same things over and over again... but doesn't go too far.
This idea is similar to the 'Food Expansion' mod, in that it adds new foods- however, unlike this modification, it might also add some new subsystems in order to try and encourage players to farm in a more versatile manner, and pay more attention to what they eat in order to reap more benefits from doing so. As always, I would be happy to make pixel art for such a mod. This is mostly just a collection of my ideas for improving food mechanics in a way that wouldn't be annoying, overwhelming, or at odds with Vannila gameplay.
Soups & Cauldrons ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Right now, mushroom soup is pretty easy to make, but kind of overpowered. In order to balance out this sort of thing, I propose that soups could be brewed using cauldrons. The idea is fairly simple. Players throw up to eight food ingredients into a cauldron to make a soup. Similar to Culinary Construct, the food points of said soup would vary based on the ingredients. Valid ingredients/combinations might include:
Suspicious Stew/Rabbit Stew/Beetroot Soup ~ Already in the game, these recipes would remain the same. Notably, rabbit stew is broken right now- the ingredients give more shanks when eaten separately than the actual stew.
Mushroom Stew ~ Three of any mushrooms, (Red or brown) makes mushroom stew.
Vegetable Soup ~ Three of any vegetables. The result is slightly higher than their total food value. Farmers might sell this.
Strange Stew ~ Made using a combination of crimson and/or warped fungus, this stew would give the user temporary effects of fire resistance and fill up some food bars, at the expense of dealing a small amount of damage.
Disturbing Stew ~ Made using random food ingredients that don't result in another combination, this soup would fill a random number of food points- (Or cause the player to randomly lose a small bit of food points), and would have a small chance of causing ar andom status effect for a short bit of time.
Divine Broth ~ Made using a golden carrot, golden apple, and chorus fruit, would bestow a random combination of positive status effects for a significant duration, as well as filling the hunger, health, and saturation bar to full. Clerics would have a small chance of selling it.
To brew any of these, players would place a water cauldron over a source of fire- this would mean that getting to the Nether and obtaining netherack would make it far easier to make stews. (...Maybe using netherak to brew soups always results in strange stew, to force players to expend wood blocks?) You then throw ingredients into a cauldron full of water, eight ingredients producing about three bowls of soup. This would, of course, require different models for the cauldron depending on what soup it was holding.
Better Foraging ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Foraging right now doesn't make sense in Minecraft, as it's firstly much easier to just kill animals; and secondly because the only real forageables are sweet berries, which are unique to the Taiga, and are an incredibly poor source of food anyways, if an easily replenishable one.
In order to improve this mechanic, I propose adding some new forageables into the game, and a new mechanic that allows them to grow back over time.
Herbs ~ Non-farmable plants that are found in the wilderness, and can be applied to most foods. There would be three herbs, each of which offer different effects to foods when applied. Savory Herbs are a grass-like dark green plant found in dark oak forests, jungles, and swamps; that slightly increase the shanks of a food. Sweet Herbs are found in jungles and flower forests. When applied to a food, they make it heal much more hearts. Finally, Spicy Herbs are unique to mesas and savvanahs- they give food much more saturation when applied. These can't be applied to all food objects- you can't, for example, make 'Spicy Cake,' but you can make 'Savory Smoked Salmon,' 'Spicy Vegetable Stew,' and 'Sweet Bread.'
Two new variants of berries might be added- Citrus Berries, which are found in birch forests and occasionally on prairies; and Violet Berries, which are unique to Swamps. All three berry types would be found in jungles. These would mostly just be used as cosmetic variations of the Sweet berry, but might have their own unique cooking recipes to make foraging more of an actual game mechanic.
Finally, blocks would have chances of generating foaregebles- and other foliage- randomly. If chunks remained loaded, grass blocks would generate grass, tall grass, and flowers over time, podzol would generate ferns and mushrooms, crimson and warped nyllium would generate their respective fungi, and mycelium would generate mushrooms more quickly. In order to balance this mechanic, what and how much foliage grows depends on how much foliage is nearby. In this manner, mushrooms and other plants would grow back over time. This would allow players to forage more sustainably, and grow forageables over long periods of time if they had silk touch tools with which to move grass-type blocks.
Special Food-Crafting Table w/ Recipies ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`
Once again, in order to make it a bit more difficult to make better foods, it seems like it would be a helpful balancing mechanic to have a special crafting table devoted to making foods. Anything that requires multiple food ingredients to make require this special Cooking Table- made using smooth stone, iron ingots, and maybe stone bricks? The cooking table would also provide a special, separate recipe book for foods.
More Foods! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ And finally, a couple of ideas regarding new types of food players could make!
Kebabs ~ Made by using a stick and two meat or vegetable foods. A kebab would fill a decent bit of food points, but would do so quicker than normal food.
Caramel & Candy ~ Caramel is made by smelting sugar in a furnace or smoker. It can be used along with dyes and honey to craft sixteen different types of candies based off the sixteen colors of dye. These would be fairly expensive to make, but would provide a speed boost, mining efficiency, and jump boost when eaten. Caramel alone would restore a fair bit of shanks, but would actually deplete saturation.
Chocolate Bars & Cake ~ Because there really aren't enough uses for cocoa beans right now. Chocolate bars would be another sweet food that refilled shanks but not saturation, and perhaps cured some negative status effects. Chocolate cake would simply be a cosmetic variation of cake made by replacing the milk with cocoa beans, and might also remove some bad status effects.
Potion of Saturation ~ Make by adding caramel to a potion of strength using a brewing stand. Refills hunger bar rapidly.