Eating out vs. dining in. That’s the question that has intrigued me for ages.
Now, I’m engaged in a massive research project to determine if it’s more economical for single people and empty nesters to eat out, rather than slaving over a hot stove to get a meal on the table at home.
Hopefully I can get some federal funds to help with the project. After all, tax dollars have been allocated to study the mating habits of the snail darter and the dangers of sword swallowing, so why not spend a few bucks to help the singletons of the world. (Note I said singletons, not simpletons, though some might argue I represent both demographics.)
You might take issue with my findings, but hear me out. I find that eating out is much more enjoyable and cost effective if done right. Here is why.
Last week, I went out and bought $90 dollars worth of groceries including fresh vegetables and all the ingredients for lasagna and shrimp and grits – two dishes I love to order in restaurants. They turned out pretty good, but after five days I’m sick of looking at them and I’ve hardly made a dent.
Rebel and Lucky Dawg even turned up their noses. Meanwhile the fresh vegetables tucked away in my crisper are either in coma, or they’ve passed on to vegetable heaven. No way can I eat a bunch of celery before it turns into mush. Most of my $90 investment will go into the compost pile.
After five days, the shrimp are looking a little dehydrated and the lasagna has taken on a death-bed pallor. A study by the FDA showed that leftovers that have been heated over 140 degrees can only keep in the fridge for a mere 4 days before bacteria starts grow on it. BLECH. No wonder I’ve been sick so much this year.
Had I purchased the items at a restaurant, I doubt I’d have spent more than $35 tops- and I’m a generous tipper, having waited on my share of tables during my college career.
Out of the ninety dollars that I spent on groceries, I estimate I ate about $20 dollars worth for the week. The first night of eating my cooking was nice, but after that it got boring as Dr. Phil reruns. If it’s not so good to begin with, you’re dead in the water.
There are plenty of mom and pop places that make fantastic food at reasonable prices and there are no dishes to wash, no grocery shopping to do, and no preparation – except maybe to run a comb through your hair and smear on some lipstick.
If you factor in the amount of food I couldn’t finish and the time it took to prepare the dish and clean up, I would have been better off to walk downtown and enjoy supper and good conversation with a friend at a sidewalk cafe.
Besides, most restaurants serve enough for a family of four on one of their entree platters. If you have the discipline to order a “to go” box with your meal, just half it up front, and you have lunch for the next day.
The salad at left was enough for 3 meals!
So go ahead, cut the guilt and eat out – your kitchen, your refrigerator and your oven will be a lot happier places. Without the stress of shopping and cooking, you may even be a healthier and happier person.