Eating Out: Not All That Great?

Going out to eat.  It’s supposed to be so great.  That’s what all the ads sing, over pictures of sizzling steaks, creamy pasta, or tomatoes raining gaily down on cheese smothered nachos.

Typical Restaurant Meal of Cheesy Beef Nachos

They look good, but are you bored with the taste of monotone restaurant foods?

So why comments like those I heard last week from some new clients, parents of a 1-year old:  “We eat out way too much,” they both agreed.  What’s going on here?  According to popular culture, we should never tire of eating out.  It’s the epitome of good living!

  • “It’s boring,” said the husband.  Not surprising.  Most restaurants are now chains that can only profit by moving mass volumes of food.  The only way to move masses of food, in turn, is by keeping flavors within a narrow mid-range, so they appeal to masses of people.  So eat at chains long enough and your taste buds will surely get bored.
  • “It’s expensive,” said the wife.  You bet it is.  Nobody cooks food for free.  And when eating in huge chains, you’re paying not just cooks, hostesses, busboys and dishwashers but a lot of corporate upkeep, from marketing to CEO salaries to stockholder communications.
  • Finally, the wife-mother concluded,  “I feel better when I eat at home–and I think that it’s better for my nursing son, too.”  Again, not surprising.  It’s tough to profit off of vegetables (all that labor for chopping and cooking!), whole grains (not produced in quantities that allow for cut rate prices), and moderate portions of clean meat  (where’s my supersized portion?)   Besides, who would actually eat that stuff, and who knows how to cook it and make it taste good without lots of cheese, butter, salt and sugar?

As a child, I remember eating out as an enormous treat, i.e., a special something we got to do on special occasions.  But my mom was always prepared and capable of feeding her family without the helping hand of a restaurant.

In the brave new world occupied by these new parents, however, eating out is no longer an occasional, enjoyable option, but an inescapable trap.  Trapped is what happens when we and our kitchens aren’t set up for manageable meal-making.  We’re left completely vulnerable.  At that point, time pressures, lack of confidence, uncertainty and chaos are all free to gang up and leave us without any option but eating out.

Do you have options?  Are you as bored at home as at the neighborhood chains?  Can you efficiently produce meals that meet your healthy eating ideals?  Can you feed your children the way you want?  There’s help!

  1. Check out the easy mid-winter, boredom busting meal in the next post
  2. Come to a Whole Kitchen cooking series, which is all about acquiring skills to make satisfying meals day in and day out
  3. Call Mary Collette for some one-on-on kitchen coaching
  4. Tell your company or organization to contact Mary Collette for a good eating workshop; reduce health care costs and make employees happy at the same time
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