* This is part of a year-long series called “52 Weeks to Eating better than Ever”. Click on the side bar for more information and to read the previous essays.
This one is going to make me a lot of enemies, I’m sure. Everyone loves to go out to eat, including me, and some people even do it multiple times per day. The problems are many with this habit when it comes to healthy eating:
- Addiction– Restaurants serve a large dose of convenience (or laziness), fat, salt, and sugar, because that’s what stimulates your survival instincts and is addictive in food and what keeps you coming back for more.
- Expense– Eating out is expensive! $10 per meal, 1 meal per day, is $3650 per year, which most people don’t have, and most meals cost much more than that.
- Calories – Restaurant food is much higher in calories than eating at home, because you have control over portion sizes at home.
All this considered….
Eating out is definitely for special occasions.
Just following this one rule would allow many people to lose 10-20 pounds in one year and save thousands of dollars. The first restaurant in the world supposedly opened in Paris in 1765, and since then the business of eating has slowly expanded, and now exploded into an everyday thing. But humans managed to survive for millions of years without eating out! It’s become rare for families to eat dinner together every night at home, which is not good for our health, or our culture.
Some have compared the devolution of cooking at home to the disappearance of sewing. Many people used to sew their own clothing, but once clothing became so inexpensive, people stopped sewing. The problem with this theory is that eating out has not become inexpensive. If anything, food prices and restaurant prices keep outpacing the inflation rate. Plus, there is nothing like hand made goods, or home-cooked foods.
The average restaurant serves portions sizes 2-3 times the recommended amount. As Americans, if we don’t get huge portions we feel cheated. Trust me, I know, because I’ve felt this way! Eating at home can correct our skewed ideas of what a healthy portion size is. Many people also falsely believe that eating out is faster. Eating at home is much faster if you consider wait times, driving times, and factor in the time saved by preparing foods in bulk ahead of time.
Let’s start a revolution. Like many things which have declined in our culture, and been degraded, the great meal at home is one of them. What happened to setting the table? The dinner party? The blessing? Taking the time to sit down and eat a home-cooked meal is one of the greatest pleasures of life, and it also helps us to slow down and reconnect with each other. The is a joyous occasion to commune, and to think about the things we are grateful for.
In the culture of “me”, where all “I” want and believe is all that really matters (in my own mind at least), we have been brainwashed into feeling guilty or “oppressed” about cooking for others, or even for ourselves. Heaven forbid, we should serve others or something larger than ourselves! Let’s change all that. Let’s pick the ingredients, plan, execute, set the table, and serve. Let’s linger at the table and enjoy. We’ll be saving money, eating less, eating healthier, and enjoying each other’s company.
And on special occasions, we will go out to eat.
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