Author Topic: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores  (Read 42913 times)

ysette9

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #50 on: March 12, 2015, 01:26:26 PM »
Our eating-out spending has dropped dramatically since we had our baby. Her bed time is early, I am usually exhausted, and there is NO time. Interestingly this has meant that we now do more cooking and "scrounging" in the kitchen than before and almost don't go out to eat at all. I also never go out for lunch at work because I don't have the time for a lunch break. All in all it is more stressful, but we are saving money....~rolling eyes~

mm1970

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #51 on: March 12, 2015, 01:33:37 PM »
Today we are having layoffs at work and people went out for tacos.  I've been out a couple of times for pre-paid events, and we went out for beer last night because of the looming layoffs (someone else paid though).  Depending on your group of friends, avoiding meals out is a challenge.

This just boggles my mind.  It's like we might all lose of jobs, so let's go spend some money!

We had a snow storm here a couple of weeks ago that made driving very treacherous for a few days.  By the end of the second day, people had stayed home all day but I could see a bunch of people digging out their cars to go out to dinner.  I get cabin fever, but the roads are bad, people, that's why you had the day off from work today!  Do you have nothing in your house your could eat?  Seriously, though, I'm sure McDonald's and Chili's had decent receipts on those days.

Well, at least in the beer part, the VP who was in charge of the whole group getting laid off also got laid off. And he paid.

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #52 on: March 12, 2015, 01:39:24 PM »
I love restaurants.  TBH if money were no object (ha, ha right?) I'd eat out most of the time.  As it is, we keep a $40/mo eating out budget.  That might be one sit-down meal at a casual place, or save up for 2 months for a nice restaurant, or a few fast food/take & bake pizza stops.

That's about 23% of our entire food budget.

Yeah. I also love restaurants, and I'm dubious about claims that people can cook the equivalent at home.  Perhaps within a limited culinary range, but there is a reason that chefs train for years.  However, if I lived in the suburbs and my only restaurant options were chains, I'd definitely not waste one penny on eating out for the very mustachian reason that chain restaurant food isn't the kind of food worth spending money on.  For sure, we can cook better food at home than watery chicken alfredo and fatty cheese steaks.  But, I can't cook sushi, dim sum, bulgoki, etc. And fine dining would blow the grocery budget with just 1-2 dinners a month. 

That doesn't mean that I always eat out, but I see nothing wrong with supporting talented chefs making delicious food if it's in the budget.  If I had time, I'd eat out for dinner 3-4x/week.

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #53 on: March 12, 2015, 02:37:30 PM »
But, I can't cook sushi

Lucky for you you don't even have to!


MoneyCat

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #54 on: March 12, 2015, 03:16:42 PM »
If one is claiming to be Mustachian, yet one is eating out at fancy restaurants and it isn't work-related (i.e. business lunches to get new clients, etc.), then one may really just be someone who comes onto the forums to brag about his or her wealth rather than someone who is really interested in the Mustachian lifestyle.

zoltani

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #55 on: March 12, 2015, 03:53:59 PM »
If one is claiming to be Mustachian, yet one is eating out at fancy restaurants and it isn't work-related (i.e. business lunches to get new clients, etc.), then one may really just be someone who comes onto the forums to brag about his or her wealth rather than someone who is really interested in the Mustachian lifestyle.

Oh please!

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #56 on: March 15, 2015, 09:11:59 AM »
Yeah. I also love restaurants, and I'm dubious about claims that people can cook the equivalent at home.  Perhaps within a limited culinary range, but there is a reason that chefs train for years.  However, if I lived in the suburbs and my only restaurant options were chains, I'd definitely not waste one penny on eating out for the very mustachian reason that chain restaurant food isn't the kind of food worth spending money on.  For sure, we can cook better food at home than watery chicken alfredo and fatty cheese steaks.  But, I can't cook sushi, dim sum, bulgoki, etc. And fine dining would blow the grocery budget with just 1-2 dinners a month. 

That doesn't mean that I always eat out, but I see nothing wrong with supporting talented chefs making delicious food if it's in the budget.  If I had time, I'd eat out for dinner 3-4x/week.

Luckily cooking three meals a day, seven days a week adds up to years of practice too!  Gotta start somewhere...

MrsPete

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #57 on: March 15, 2015, 03:57:30 PM »
I think one of the big reasons for this un-surprising trend is that so many people -- especially young people -- simply don't know how to cook anymore.  And about half of those who do cook do "convenience cooking"; for example, a casserole with canned soup as a base, so it's not particularly tasty or healthy. 

RetiredAt63

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #58 on: March 15, 2015, 04:56:26 PM »
Nothing new about that.  Lots of fast recipes in the 50's and 60's used canned or dry mix soup for a base.  See Peg Bracken's I hate to Cook book.  And the Lockridge mystery series had people eating out all the time (but they were in NYC, the first book was written in 1940 and the stories start in the 30's. I could never figure out how Pam North filled her time). But at least then people did expect to do most of their cooking at home.  Or the maid would, if you were a young urban couple like Pam and Jerry North.

I think one of the big reasons for this un-surprising trend is that so many people -- especially young people -- simply don't know how to cook anymore.  And about half of those who do cook do "convenience cooking"; for example, a casserole with canned soup as a base, so it's not particularly tasty or healthy.

plainjane

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #59 on: March 15, 2015, 05:48:48 PM »
I'm eating out 4 times this week.  Once at a friend's house, and the other three times will be restaurants (two lunches for career/networking/friend purposes, one 'making new friends' purposes where we haven't graduated to being comfortable enough to have the other over).

For groceries this week we bought a cauliflower, bread, naan, oj, hummus, and cheese.  Everything else we're planning to eat this week is leftover from last week (gnocchi, bell pepper, cucumber, orange), pantry (preserved lemons, capers, pesto, pine nuts, yeast, flour, spices, onions), or from the freezer (stock, bacon, roasted tomato).  We will easily spend twice as much eating out as eating in this week, but it isn't because we don't know how to cook, the meals out are investments in relationships.

Shamantha

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #60 on: March 16, 2015, 05:40:36 AM »
I am also spending more on eating out / drinking out than on groceries. I only go out for dinner/drinks once a week (socialising with friends) and the rest of the time I cook from scratch, including one evening for friends. However, when going out for dinner and drinks it is quickly 50 euro, which is also my weekly shopping, including beer, laundry detergent, personal care items etc. But I do not think I am the group investigated :)

By the way: I also go out for dinner once a week for work (expenses paid) but would really struggle to go out for dinner more often. I like the food I cook from scratch so much better than when I go out for food! And I think that my (vegetarian) sushi is nicer and fresher than what I can get in restaurants, and it does not cost a thing. Exception: Indian food, I can't get that completely spot-on.

MrsPete

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #61 on: March 16, 2015, 06:54:32 PM »
Nothing new about that.  Lots of fast recipes in the 50's and 60's used canned or dry mix soup for a base.  See Peg Bracken's I hate to Cook book.  And the Lockridge mystery series had people eating out all the time (but they were in NYC, the first book was written in 1940 and the stories start in the 30's. I could never figure out how Pam North filled her time). But at least then people did expect to do most of their cooking at home.  Or the maid would, if you were a young urban couple like Pam and Jerry North.
Disagree. I think in the 50s and 60s women (yeah, I mean women, not all people) knew how to cook from scratch ... yet cookbooks were touting canned soups, etc. as time savers and conveniences.  They were options.  Today I don't think the average American knows how to whip up much of anything from scratch.  The convenience foods have become the standard. 

skunkfunk

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #62 on: March 17, 2015, 07:49:28 AM »
I love restaurants.  TBH if money were no object (ha, ha right?) I'd eat out most of the time.  As it is, we keep a $40/mo eating out budget.  That might be one sit-down meal at a casual place, or save up for 2 months for a nice restaurant, or a few fast food/take & bake pizza stops.

That's about 23% of our entire food budget.

Yeah. I also love restaurants, and I'm dubious about claims that people can cook the equivalent at home.  Perhaps within a limited culinary range, but there is a reason that chefs train for years.  However, if I lived in the suburbs and my only restaurant options were chains, I'd definitely not waste one penny on eating out for the very mustachian reason that chain restaurant food isn't the kind of food worth spending money on.  For sure, we can cook better food at home than watery chicken alfredo and fatty cheese steaks.  But, I can't cook sushi, dim sum, bulgoki, etc. And fine dining would blow the grocery budget with just 1-2 dinners a month. 

That doesn't mean that I always eat out, but I see nothing wrong with supporting talented chefs making delicious food if it's in the budget.  If I had time, I'd eat out for dinner 3-4x/week.

Spend a little time to learn, be happier with a limited range. I'm currently learning to cook Asian cuisine and so far what I've mastered is as good as the stuff I used to get at restaurants around here. Some of it can be pretty easy, fast, and tasty (not terribly gourmet to cook a curry stir fry though) and other stuff takes quite a bit of time (e.g. lo mai gai.) If I can master just a few of these recipes, they'll only be needed a few times a month and will not get old. I'll move on to another style (say, German or Cajun.)

Sid Hoffman

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #63 on: March 17, 2015, 05:18:19 PM »
I think one of the big reasons for this un-surprising trend is that so many people -- especially young people -- simply don't know how to cook anymore.  And about half of those who do cook do "convenience cooking"; for example, a casserole with canned soup as a base, so it's not particularly tasty or healthy.

Yeah maybe, but I don't know.  I suppose the theory is that the kids who grew up in earlier generations where mom stayed at home, they learned to cook from mom.  Is that what you're getting at?  That in the modern age where there's no stay at home parents (either due to never married, divorce, or simply dual income) and thus neither adult is regularly cooking anymore.  So kids are less likely to learn to cook if both parents are working and come home exhausted, not wanting to cook.  Is that the theory?  It seems plausible.

On the other hand, this is the information age, or so I've been told for the last 20 years or so since public access to internet or at least AOL became commonplace.  There's cooking shows all over TV, both network and especially cable.  There's both books and E-books for cooking meals quickly and easily.  There's youtube videos by the millions and websites probably by the tens of millions with cooking instructions.  Further, the packaging of food has gotten simplified so more things can be purchased as kits, rather than preparing food truly from scratch like in the old days.

I don't think there's any lack of ability to learn how to cook food, it's just become a social norm not to cook food for yourself much anymore.  Like MMM's latest blog, once something is ubiquitous (like restaurants and eating out) it's hard for someone to feel the social pressure to do anything but that activity.  The good news, IMHO, is that eating at home is done in private, so someone can ramp up their eating at home and generally nobody else even knows about it, so there's no social pressure except for public events like a group lunch/dinner, and those are (hopefully!) rare enough for most people to not account for a significant budget expense.

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #64 on: March 17, 2015, 08:33:46 PM »
I hope other people continue to waste their money on bars and restaurants, because it will increase the value of my stocks.  Throw your money away, sheep.  I will take your money.

Bwahahaha! Awesome.

plainjane

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #65 on: March 18, 2015, 04:54:14 AM »
Further, the packaging of food has gotten simplified so more things can be purchased as kits, rather than preparing food truly from scratch like in the old days.

And this is where you get people saying they might as well eat out, because the kits are barely a savings compared to that.

mm1970

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #66 on: March 18, 2015, 09:28:20 AM »
I think one of the big reasons for this un-surprising trend is that so many people -- especially young people -- simply don't know how to cook anymore.  And about half of those who do cook do "convenience cooking"; for example, a casserole with canned soup as a base, so it's not particularly tasty or healthy.

Yeah maybe, but I don't know.  I suppose the theory is that the kids who grew up in earlier generations where mom stayed at home, they learned to cook from mom.  Is that what you're getting at?  That in the modern age where there's no stay at home parents (either due to never married, divorce, or simply dual income) and thus neither adult is regularly cooking anymore.  So kids are less likely to learn to cook if both parents are working and come home exhausted, not wanting to cook.  Is that the theory?  It seems plausible.

On the other hand, this is the information age, or so I've been told for the last 20 years or so since public access to internet or at least AOL became commonplace.  There's cooking shows all over TV, both network and especially cable.  There's both books and E-books for cooking meals quickly and easily.  There's youtube videos by the millions and websites probably by the tens of millions with cooking instructions.  Further, the packaging of food has gotten simplified so more things can be purchased as kits, rather than preparing food truly from scratch like in the old days.

I don't think there's any lack of ability to learn how to cook food, it's just become a social norm not to cook food for yourself much anymore.  Like MMM's latest blog, once something is ubiquitous (like restaurants and eating out) it's hard for someone to feel the social pressure to do anything but that activity.  The good news, IMHO, is that eating at home is done in private, so someone can ramp up their eating at home and generally nobody else even knows about it, so there's no social pressure except for public events like a group lunch/dinner, and those are (hopefully!) rare enough for most people to not account for a significant budget expense.
This was a very good post in general.

My mom was a SAHM until I was about 12 (when my dad got laid off and the new job made 1/3 the old one).  She cooked from scratch, but also made casseroles with cream soups, because, you know, 80s.  She gardened and canned too.  It was typical American fare - meatloaf, spaghetti and meatballs, chicken, fish on Fridays, stuffed cabbage, mashed potatoes, canned veggies.

I did not learn to cook. I was the 8th of 9 kids.  My mom cooked.  My sister cooked a little when my mom went back to work. My dad cooked after the divorce.  But I never learned to cook (I did learn to can).  I did the dishes.

But part way through college I got an apartment, so the college and early Navy days I learned to cook *a little* - spaghetti with jarred sauce (sometimes my own meatballs), ramen noodles (that was college), burritos (from a kit), pierogies.  Then I got a boyfriend who cooked (learned from his mom).  When he moved away I started cooking more  - I had 50 cookbooks, but didn't know how to cook, and I burned or cut myself whenever I went into the kitchen.

I didn't REALLY learn to cook until about 31-32 years old, by watching the Food Network, which happened to coincide with needing to lose 50 pounds.  It wasn't going to happen with my husband's cooking (that great boyfriend who cooked? Yeah, him.)  But cooking "from scratch" takes time!  It's easier to buy pre-shredded cabbage than to make your own, easier to buy dressing than to make your own, easier to buy canned beans than to cook your own, easier to buy frozen meatballs than to make your own, easier to buy hummus.  (In case you were wondering: I shred my own cabbage, make most of my own dressing, make 3/4 of my beans from dried, almost always buy frozen meatballs, and usually make my own hummus).

But FOR SURE eating out is so normal now - when I was in the Navy in DC, I ate out lunch EVERY DAY after I made LtJG.  Sometimes breakfast and dinner!  It got to be that my favorite two places knew my order when I walked up.  When I moved to CA, I ate out lunch with my coworkers, and my husband and I had dinner out 1-2x a week.  (We were spending $400 a month eating out, in 2001!!)  I see it with my coworkers and friends.  Lunch out.  St Patty's day?  Let's go out! 

I made a decision about 4 weeks ago that we'd do NO eating out as a family for 6 weeks (until spring break). Exceptions: we ordered pizza for my kid's birthday party, business travel (husband), when other people are paying (I've had 2 interview lunches). Dang, it's been hard!  Two more weeks to go.  I cannot count the number of times I've been invited out.  Plus, I've been eating salad for lunch every day and I'm craving something different.  Some people eat out because it's a social thing - that's when they see their friends. Some people eat out because it's an "event", like with live music. Some people eat out because they cannot face another salad - and they are the only ones cooking.

zephyr911

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #67 on: March 18, 2015, 11:06:56 AM »
I've never really understood the appeal of drinking at a bar.  You generally get one beer for the retail cost of a six-pack and everything is really loud and you don't get to control the music.  Meanwhile, drunk people rub up against you and proposition you and there may be a fight or two and you can't even hear the commentators on the game on the TV screens that are smaller than the one you have at home.  Why not just buy a case of beer and invite some friends over?  Seems like a better and much cheaper way to have some suds and socializing.
I see the problem here: you've never been to a good bar. What you describe is a typical drunk-ass meat market found near a large university or in a poor, uneducated town. I think some exist in my area, but I've never been to one.
We have craft breweries with taprooms where the owners/brewmasters stop by for feedback on the pint you're drinking, with free food on the day of a big game or other event. Most of them have outdoor seating areas (great this time of year) and frequent live music with no cover charge. You can get a whole lot of entertainment in the time it takes to drink one really good $5 pint, and I've never been harassed, spilled on, or forced to yell to be heard in a conversation. That said, I still avoid excessive patronage because $5 pints do add up. Just don't assume the crappy bars you've been to are the only kind. :)

But, I can't cook sushi
Lucky for you you don't even have to!
Hahaha! I see what you did there.

Nah, military.  We get some per diem, so I guess you could call that "on the company dime," but it really just supplements your paycheck.

I just save the extra.  Most people do consider it "free money" and blow it, however.
In my active duty years, I always felt like it was easy to pocket half the per diem while eating and drinking very well. Blowing it all just because it's there is retarded.
Now I'm ANG, I usually stay with friends when I'm on orders, and I still pocket at least half while feeding everyone in the house. Home cookin' FTW!
« Last Edit: March 18, 2015, 11:12:04 AM by zephyr911 »

Jouer

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #68 on: March 18, 2015, 02:16:31 PM »
Are Americans eating out more?....or has the price of restaurants in America increased more quickly than grocery store goods? The graph doesn't tell us.

Also, I wonder how much of an effect 1%ers and their $10,000 dinners out have on this graph. Would like to see it broken out by household income to get a better picture of the story.
 

slugline

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #69 on: March 18, 2015, 02:19:27 PM »
Are Americans eating out more?....or has the price of restaurants in America increased more quickly than grocery store goods? The graph doesn't tell us.

Yeah. Kind of like seeing stories about ever increasing box office receipts at movie theatres when we also know that ticket prices have been creeping up. . . .

RetiredAt63

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #70 on: March 21, 2015, 08:06:42 AM »
Oh sure, women knew how to cook.  Just making the point that not everyone cooked from scratch all the time.  My Mom did, and I mostly did (full-time working mom) - I was shocked the first time I realized that the store had pancake mix - WTF, pancake batter is the easiest thing to make from scratch, and the store stuff is incredibly bland.  And there were/are lots of recipes for making up your own pre-mix if you want to go that route - I took home-made pancake mix on camping trips back in the 80's.  Along with my maple butter, camping does not have to mean bad food.  Anyway . . . .

But let's face it, food manufacturers (now that is an interesting term in itself) don't make a lot of money on selling flour, chocolate chips, etc., compared to what they make on a roll of ready-to-bake chocolate chip cookie dough.  So the push for convenience is there.

Nothing new about that.  Lots of fast recipes in the 50's and 60's used canned or dry mix soup for a base.  See Peg Bracken's I hate to Cook book.  And the Lockridge mystery series had people eating out all the time (but they were in NYC, the first book was written in 1940 and the stories start in the 30's. I could never figure out how Pam North filled her time). But at least then people did expect to do most of their cooking at home.  Or the maid would, if you were a young urban couple like Pam and Jerry North.
Disagree. I think in the 50s and 60s women (yeah, I mean women, not all people) knew how to cook from scratch ... yet cookbooks were touting canned soups, etc. as time savers and conveniences.  They were options.  Today I don't think the average American knows how to whip up much of anything from scratch.  The convenience foods have become the standard.

MoneyCat

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #71 on: March 21, 2015, 01:04:24 PM »
Now that I really think about it, I think a major reason why Americans are eating out more than buying groceries is because Americans work a ridiculous amount of hours these days compared to previous generations.  After working a 60 hour week, many people are too tired to cook, so they just grab some takeout or eat out with friends.  Europeans, for example, work nowhere near as many hours as the typical American and they eat out less.

Alex321

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #72 on: March 21, 2015, 01:16:29 PM »
Good. It bodes well for my stock holdings in McDonald's Corporation and Darden Restaurants, etc.

Sid Hoffman

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #73 on: March 21, 2015, 01:31:27 PM »
Yeah. Kind of like seeing stories about ever increasing box office receipts at movie theatres when we also know that ticket prices have been creeping up. . . .

Grocery stores sell food and restaurants sell food.  They both sell food.  Their product prices are the same because they both sell the same products.  Grocery stores are staffed by labor, while restaurants are staffed by labor.  Both are staffed by labor.  Their costs increase at the same rate as they are both staffed by labor.  There is nothing magical about restaurants (prepared food, served by cheap labor) that makes them exist in a totally different economy from grocery stores (unprepared food, sold by cheap labor) so the key is that the lines went from being far apart, to meeting.

netskyblue

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #74 on: March 21, 2015, 03:42:33 PM »
Their costs increase at the same rate

Well yeah, but... cost != retail.  It could be that restaurant markups are growing, or (not sure how likely) that grocery store profits are decreasing. 

Also the labor = labor isn't exactly equal either.  The restaurant industry is not subject to the same effects of a minimum wage hike as grocery stores are, since waitstaff are regularly paid far less than minimum wage. 

And, at least where I am (and both my husband and I have spent a combined 25+ years in the restaurant industry) MANY MANY non-chain restaurants employ illegal workers, pay them under the table, are VERY small businesses employing less than 15 people at one time, and provide no benefits.  Most of the grocery stores around here are much bigger businesses, and are far more likely to have some full-time staff, and provide benefits.  They have HR departments, buyers, managers, etc.

In my city we have TONS of small, locally owned restaurants.  They might have the owners, 2-3 cooks, 1-2 dishwashers, and maybe 6-10 waitstaff.  We have a very, very few locally owned (all ethnic) grocery stores.  Everything mainstream is corporate.  Very different labor pool involved.

TRBeck

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #75 on: March 25, 2015, 11:46:35 AM »
After 18 months of Mustachianism, I find NOT eating out the difficult habit to break. I loathe the restaurant experience, for the most part. My wife has to sell me on a dinner out now and then, and while some restaurant experiences are okay, I generally find them disappointing. As for bars, well, I see the appeal of a good pub conversation or a live music dive, and we have plenty of great taprooms and microbreweries around here, too. Still, most times for me in this life stage, the back patio, some homebrew, and the grill going is far better. Kids can run and play, we eat at a leisurely pace and enjoy the food, the beer is cheap and always good, and no shouting over music/ambient noise. Even better if friends come over with their kids. Play date and night out for both families, or three families, or more.

We are a family of 4 and eat on $140/week. We could go cheaper and have, keeping things under $100/week for months at a time. There's no way I can envision dropping $400/month on bars and restaurants. The single person whose bar spending outdistances his/her groceries I can see. If I lived alone, I'd subsist on lentils, oatmeal, rice, produce, and protein powder, but still drink good beer and whiskey.


Jouer

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #76 on: March 25, 2015, 12:06:06 PM »
Quote
Quote
Yeah. Kind of like seeing stories about ever increasing box office receipts at movie theatres when we also know that ticket prices have been creeping up. . . .

Quote
Grocery stores sell food and restaurants sell food.  They both sell food.  Their product prices are the same because they both sell the same products.  Grocery stores are staffed by labor, while restaurants are staffed by labor.  Both are staffed by labor.  Their costs increase at the same rate as they are both staffed by labor.  There is nothing magical about restaurants (prepared food, served by cheap labor) that makes them exist in a totally different economy from grocery stores (unprepared food, sold by cheap labor) so the key is that the lines went from being far apart, to meeting.

Yes, it is bad that the lines are now meeting. And it is bad that $$ spent in America is higher now than in the past. No one would argue that. But one cannot glean from this graph that more Americans are eating out or that Americans are eating out more often. Not without more information. That's all I am saying.

gimp

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #77 on: March 26, 2015, 09:41:31 PM »
When I was living on $30/month for groceries, I almost certainly spent more than that from the couple times a month I went out with friends. I find it a lot harder to imagine $300 a month, though.

LouLou

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #78 on: March 29, 2015, 04:54:27 PM »
Its showing the progression of the "I'll just pay someone else to do it" mindset, further showing that no one wants to do anything for themselves any more. Also, if you think of it in terms of health, this is leading to a sicker population due to unhealthy eating habits (not that you can't eat a healthy meal at a restaurant, but on average it would be much healthier to buy groceries).

Wow, you got all of that from the chart? I'm not seeing it, but you seem pretty sure of yourself, so...OK!

I would like to see the details of this study. There are two variables that could be changing over time. One is the number of meals that people eat out and the other is the price paid for those meals. In my household, we prioritize quality over quantity. My sense is that others are also more willing to dish out cash for perceived quality and for experiences, but I haven't seen any data on that specifically. I wonder if people are eating out less (or a similar amount) but are spending more?

I pay far less for groceries than I used to, and more at restaurants than I used to. I cook most dinners at home for health and Mustachian reasons. As I get better at cooking, my food at home tastes better than many less expensive places.  When I eat out now, it has to be really, really good! And that is usually (but not always) more expensive.

And there are lots of really great bars in town. I learn about new beers that way.

Sibley

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #79 on: March 29, 2015, 05:24:46 PM »
In a previous job, I traveled extensively. I'd eat out 3 meals a day, 4 days a week, for about 7 months of the year. I learned to hate restaurants in that time.

I don't eat fast food except Subway. I take my lunch to work almost every day. Getting me to go to a restaurant is pretty darn hard. Ironically, I don't enjoy cooking.

darkadams00

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #80 on: April 09, 2015, 10:36:59 AM »
One abbreviation - SAHM (coined after the majority of wives/mothers at home became a minority)

I don't want to start a cross-generational culture war, but a few observations from the last 30 years come to mind --

  • Wives/mothers who don't work public jobs have more available time to run errands, cook meals, shop for bargains, clean house, do laundry, work out, etc.
  • When women work in the public, even if that was the arrangement at the time of marriage, many men do not democratically distribute the household work responsibilities.
  • Given the increased pressure on the daily schedule (work hours) and the unwillingness of men to share equitably in the household duties that still exist, the fact that food preparation has been outsourced to the public sector is not at all surprising. One could argue that this is true for other household duties as well--buy new clothes instead of sewing a pocket/hem, pay a maid service instead of doing one's vacuuming/dusting, etc.

Are we really so naive to think that this expenditure of effort in the public workforce will not be balanced in some manner in most households? Yes, as mentioned in this thread, some will bite the bullet and spend the hours at a full-time job and in the house. Most will look for a way to cut corners if possible. At a macro level, this outcome is inevitable.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2015, 10:38:49 AM by darkadams00 »

welliamwallace

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #81 on: April 09, 2015, 11:01:50 AM »
It's true for me too :-(



And this doesn't even include any alcohol!

It's a work in progress for me.

Kaspian

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #82 on: April 09, 2015, 12:19:30 PM »
After 18 months of Mustachianism, I find NOT eating out the difficult habit to break. I loathe the restaurant experience, for the most part.

^^ So much this!!!  Same thing.  I find 95% of restaurant food generally bland, pretentious, salty, and greasy.  I usually raise an eyebrow of distain when a friend suggests it.  I really only eat out when I travel to foreign countries and enjoy it most of the time--because it's something new or it's not something I can make myself.    Likewise, I do like traditional pubs.  ...Even if they don't have microbrews.  (The fish & chips in a British pub is absolute killer--drooling just thinking of it.)

Cassie

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #83 on: April 10, 2015, 01:22:13 PM »
WE go out for a nice meal once per week. Craft beers are also something we enjoy when going out. We didn't do this when we were raising our kids but now have the $ to enjoy.  We feel it is an enjoyable experience.

Chuck

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #84 on: April 10, 2015, 02:06:15 PM »
I used to eat out every meal of every day, almost without fail. Now I feel bad when I eat out, but my wife and I are addcited to the convenience.

So we have a rule in place that we can eat out no more than 2 dinners and 1 lunch per week. Usually I don't use the lunch, and we average 1.5 dinners out per week. A lot of room for improvement but I am lightyears from where I used to be. I want to get it down to .33 lunches (so I can catch the occasional going-away lunch) and .25 dinners (one date night out per month). We are a ways from that goal, but I know we can do it.

Honestly I've optimized the hell out of so many expenses (cell phone, cable, mortgage refi) that this is one of the few low hanging fruits left..

Helvegen

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #85 on: April 14, 2015, 11:47:15 AM »
We eat out at a sit-down restaurant an average of once every 6-8 weeks. We would often go for many months without going unless someone else was paying because we simply couldn't afford it. It costs us an average of $40-$70 for a family of three to eat out at a sit down place once you factor in drinks, tax, and tip. We can just now comfortably afford it as an occasional treat, but it was just out of the question prior.

Fast food, we do maybe once or twice a month, usually just something from Costco.

I have family friends that spend upwards of $1k a month just on eating out. They look very much like it too. Both very obese and not in the greatest health. The guy looks like a literal walking heart attack. They have a lot of debt, but don't really bother themselves too much about it. I would be scared shitless if I were them because they both look one step away from a serious medical crisis that could put either one of them out a job.

Albert

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #86 on: April 18, 2015, 03:52:36 PM »
Now that I really think about it, I think a major reason why Americans are eating out more than buying groceries is because Americans work a ridiculous amount of hours these days compared to previous generations.  After working a 60 hour week, many people are too tired to cook, so they just grab some takeout or eat out with friends.  Europeans, for example, work nowhere near as many hours as the typical American and they eat out less.

Not sure about this. Here majority of my co-workers eat lunch at work cafeteria. I'm guilty of that too… Granted it's subsidised so the amount spent (ca 7-10$) is not a lot higher than taking food from home, but still…

iamlittlehedgehog

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #87 on: April 28, 2015, 12:45:45 PM »
This is a habit I hate to see go. We have a very generous $50 a week entertainment budget which can be used for eating out, movies or going to the bar. The latter 2 aren't much of an issue, I side hustle at a bar so we can usually drink for free but not ordering pizza or going out to eat has been a habit that has been one of the hardest to break.
I. HATE. COOKING.
I'm not a terrible cook, I just don't get the same joy out of it as most people seem to. Unfortunately DH's cooking skills only extend to the microwave so cooking falls on me.

Hunny156

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #88 on: April 28, 2015, 01:08:16 PM »
This is a habit I hate to see go. We have a very generous $50 a week entertainment budget which can be used for eating out, movies or going to the bar. The latter 2 aren't much of an issue, I side hustle at a bar so we can usually drink for free but not ordering pizza or going out to eat has been a habit that has been one of the hardest to break.
I. HATE. COOKING.
I'm not a terrible cook, I just don't get the same joy out of it as most people seem to. Unfortunately DH's cooking skills only extend to the microwave so cooking falls on me.

I hear you, hubby's skills are not great in the kitchen, so it falls on me too.  I don't hate cooking, but it was getting to be more of a chore for me.  I recently purchased an electric pressure cooker, and it has totally revitalized my desire to cook.  Doesn't hurt that I get to go do other stuff while the food is cooking.  Best $70 I spent!  :)

GuitarStv

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #89 on: April 28, 2015, 01:08:48 PM »
Now that I really think about it, I think a major reason why Americans are eating out more than buying groceries is because Americans work a ridiculous amount of hours these days compared to previous generations.  After working a 60 hour week, many people are too tired to cook, so they just grab some takeout or eat out with friends.  Europeans, for example, work nowhere near as many hours as the typical American and they eat out less.

Not sure about this. Here majority of my co-workers eat lunch at work cafeteria. I'm guilty of that too… Granted it's subsidised so the amount spent (ca 7-10$) is not a lot higher than taking food from home, but still…

How does your math work?  7-10$ is about four times what a large home cooked meal should cost.

zephyr911

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #90 on: April 28, 2015, 01:12:21 PM »

I hear you, hubby's skills are not great in the kitchen, so it falls on me too.  I don't hate cooking, but it was getting to be more of a chore for me.  I recently purchased an electric pressure cooker, and it has totally revitalized my desire to cook.  Doesn't hurt that I get to go do other stuff while the food is cooking.  Best $70 I spent!  :)
Anything that makes it easier is a win.
Also, whatever/whenever you do cook - cook shit-tons of it and freeze/refrigerate portions. Less work for the same result should make it less annoying.

mm1970

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #91 on: April 28, 2015, 01:16:58 PM »
This is a habit I hate to see go. We have a very generous $50 a week entertainment budget which can be used for eating out, movies or going to the bar. The latter 2 aren't much of an issue, I side hustle at a bar so we can usually drink for free but not ordering pizza or going out to eat has been a habit that has been one of the hardest to break.
I. HATE. COOKING.
I'm not a terrible cook, I just don't get the same joy out of it as most people seem to. Unfortunately DH's cooking skills only extend to the microwave so cooking falls on me.
I used to like cooking. Both my mother and mother in law asked me why I wasn't sick of it.

At the time, I'd been cooking for maybe 5 years, they'd been cooking for 40, for men who are picky.

My husband will eat anything.  So I can cook anything.

But now, with a full time job and 2 kids?  It's turned into a chore.  Every weekend: figure out what's on sale, try to cook enough to last 4 people for the week.  Every week: run out on Weds or Thurs, and figure out what to make to last the rest of the week.  It's not fun anymore.

iamlittlehedgehog

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #92 on: April 28, 2015, 01:20:01 PM »
This is a habit I hate to see go. We have a very generous $50 a week entertainment budget which can be used for eating out, movies or going to the bar. The latter 2 aren't much of an issue, I side hustle at a bar so we can usually drink for free but not ordering pizza or going out to eat has been a habit that has been one of the hardest to break.
I. HATE. COOKING.
I'm not a terrible cook, I just don't get the same joy out of it as most people seem to. Unfortunately DH's cooking skills only extend to the microwave so cooking falls on me.
I used to like cooking. Both my mother and mother in law asked me why I wasn't sick of it.

At the time, I'd been cooking for maybe 5 years, they'd been cooking for 40, for men who are picky.

My husband will eat anything.  So I can cook anything.

But now, with a full time job and 2 kids?  It's turned into a chore.  Every weekend: figure out what's on sale, try to cook enough to last 4 people for the week.  Every week: run out on Weds or Thurs, and figure out what to make to last the rest of the week.  It's not fun anymore.

You at least have a legitimate reason though! Kids, work and cooking every meal for 4 people is tough! I'm just lazy and can think of at least a dozen other things I would rather do in the evening than cook. I found a bunch of 30 minute meal recipes so I'm coming around...slowly.

Hunny156

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #93 on: April 28, 2015, 01:51:20 PM »
I'm trying to stop always looking for new and different things to try.  When I find a few things that my somewhat picky husband will eat, then I put them into the rotation.  Easier than trying to think of what to make all the time.

Me, I could eat rice, beans and potatoes all day long and be fine.  He likes variety.  Tough battle.  ;)

Albert

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #94 on: April 30, 2015, 01:45:55 PM »
Now that I really think about it, I think a major reason why Americans are eating out more than buying groceries is because Americans work a ridiculous amount of hours these days compared to previous generations.  After working a 60 hour week, many people are too tired to cook, so they just grab some takeout or eat out with friends.  Europeans, for example, work nowhere near as many hours as the typical American and they eat out less.

Not sure about this. Here majority of my co-workers eat lunch at work cafeteria. I'm guilty of that too… Granted it's subsidised so the amount spent (ca 7-10$) is not a lot higher than taking food from home, but still…

How does your math work?  7-10$ is about four times what a large home cooked meal should cost.

You clearly haven't seen Swiss food prices, particularly for meat. I'd estimate depending on what you buy and where about 2-3x US prices.

MgoSam

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #95 on: May 04, 2015, 02:14:41 PM »
Now that I really think about it, I think a major reason why Americans are eating out more than buying groceries is because Americans work a ridiculous amount of hours these days compared to previous generations.  After working a 60 hour week, many people are too tired to cook, so they just grab some takeout or eat out with friends.  Europeans, for example, work nowhere near as many hours as the typical American and they eat out less.

Not sure about this. Here majority of my co-workers eat lunch at work cafeteria. I'm guilty of that too… Granted it's subsidised so the amount spent (ca 7-10$) is not a lot higher than taking food from home, but still…

How does your math work?  7-10$ is about four times what a large home cooked meal should cost.

You clearly haven't seen Swiss food prices, particularly for meat. I'd estimate depending on what you buy and where about 2-3x US prices.

Gotta bear in mind the insane subsidies farmers receive here in the US. I don't know how it compares to Europe or other parts of the world, but grocery prices here are insanely cheap if you are willing to buy mass produced meat and other things. That said, learning how to cook is awesome and cooks like Jaime Oliver bring up how it is oftentimes quicker, cheaper, healthier, AND more delicious to make things like stir fry at home rather than getting takeout.

Albert

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #96 on: May 05, 2015, 01:47:02 PM »
We are not big on takeouts here. Actually in six years living here I've never had one. If I go to a restaurant her and despite the price I do go occasionally the primary reason is to meet someone not just because I'm hungry.

donut

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #97 on: May 17, 2015, 04:12:37 AM »
It surprised me that this is just becoming true now given how common eating out is but I forget that many households have crazy high grocery bills even when they don't cook many meals. My wife and I have always been pretty Mustachian when it comes to groceries ($150/month) so we surpass our grocery bill just by eating out a few times with friends or family. Of course food is one of the few things we enjoy spending money on and our social circle is the "let's all go to dinner" crowd so it's a major area we need to work on, but I think we would still outspend our grocery bill 50% of the time after a significant reduction in going out.

donut

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #98 on: May 17, 2015, 05:13:26 AM »
I think one of the big reasons for this un-surprising trend is that so many people -- especially young people -- simply don't know how to cook anymore.  And about half of those who do cook do "convenience cooking"; for example, a casserole with canned soup as a base, so it's not particularly tasty or healthy.

Yeah maybe, but I don't know.  I suppose the theory is that the kids who grew up in earlier generations where mom stayed at home, they learned to cook from mom.  Is that what you're getting at?  That in the modern age where there's no stay at home parents (either due to never married, divorce, or simply dual income) and thus neither adult is regularly cooking anymore.  So kids are less likely to learn to cook if both parents are working and come home exhausted, not wanting to cook.  Is that the theory?  It seems plausible.

On the other hand, this is the information age, or so I've been told for the last 20 years or so since public access to internet or at least AOL became commonplace.  There's cooking shows all over TV, both network and especially cable.  There's both books and E-books for cooking meals quickly and easily.  There's youtube videos by the millions and websites probably by the tens of millions with cooking instructions.  Further, the packaging of food has gotten simplified so more things can be purchased as kits, rather than preparing food truly from scratch like in the old days.

I don't think there's any lack of ability to learn how to cook food, it's just become a social norm not to cook food for yourself much anymore.  Like MMM's latest blog, once something is ubiquitous (like restaurants and eating out) it's hard for someone to feel the social pressure to do anything but that activity.  The good news, IMHO, is that eating at home is done in private, so someone can ramp up their eating at home and generally nobody else even knows about it, so there's no social pressure except for public events like a group lunch/dinner, and those are (hopefully!) rare enough for most people to not account for a significant budget expense.
This was a very good post in general.

My mom was a SAHM until I was about 12 (when my dad got laid off and the new job made 1/3 the old one).  She cooked from scratch, but also made casseroles with cream soups, because, you know, 80s.  She gardened and canned too.  It was typical American fare - meatloaf, spaghetti and meatballs, chicken, fish on Fridays, stuffed cabbage, mashed potatoes, canned veggies.

I did not learn to cook. I was the 8th of 9 kids.  My mom cooked.  My sister cooked a little when my mom went back to work. My dad cooked after the divorce.  But I never learned to cook (I did learn to can).  I did the dishes.

But part way through college I got an apartment, so the college and early Navy days I learned to cook *a little* - spaghetti with jarred sauce (sometimes my own meatballs), ramen noodles (that was college), burritos (from a kit), pierogies.  Then I got a boyfriend who cooked (learned from his mom).  When he moved away I started cooking more  - I had 50 cookbooks, but didn't know how to cook, and I burned or cut myself whenever I went into the kitchen.

I didn't REALLY learn to cook until about 31-32 years old, by watching the Food Network, which happened to coincide with needing to lose 50 pounds.  It wasn't going to happen with my husband's cooking (that great boyfriend who cooked? Yeah, him.)  But cooking "from scratch" takes time!  It's easier to buy pre-shredded cabbage than to make your own, easier to buy dressing than to make your own, easier to buy canned beans than to cook your own, easier to buy frozen meatballs than to make your own, easier to buy hummus.  (In case you were wondering: I shred my own cabbage, make most of my own dressing, make 3/4 of my beans from dried, almost always buy frozen meatballs, and usually make my own hummus).

But FOR SURE eating out is so normal now - when I was in the Navy in DC, I ate out lunch EVERY DAY after I made LtJG.  Sometimes breakfast and dinner!  It got to be that my favorite two places knew my order when I walked up.  When I moved to CA, I ate out lunch with my coworkers, and my husband and I had dinner out 1-2x a week.  (We were spending $400 a month eating out, in 2001!!)  I see it with my coworkers and friends.  Lunch out.  St Patty's day?  Let's go out! 

I made a decision about 4 weeks ago that we'd do NO eating out as a family for 6 weeks (until spring break). Exceptions: we ordered pizza for my kid's birthday party, business travel (husband), when other people are paying (I've had 2 interview lunches). Dang, it's been hard!  Two more weeks to go.  I cannot count the number of times I've been invited out.  Plus, I've been eating salad for lunch every day and I'm craving something different.  Some people eat out because it's a social thing - that's when they see their friends. Some people eat out because it's an "event", like with live music. Some people eat out because they cannot face another salad - and they are the only ones cooking.

I have to agree with this line of thought. I never learned how to cook from my parents who were both full time Software Engineers, they couldn't find the time and just didn't really enjoy cooking. We out a lot, to the point where I can tell you the history of menu changes at various fast food places (strangely I was never overweight). What I did pick up was from extended family but I still didn't know how to do much beyond boiling water for ramen when I got to college.

There I learned to cook out of a mix of necessity and backlash over living off of takeout food for so many years. My family could afford my education but I felt a resistance to using any more of their funds than was necessary (probably the reason I like this blog and ERE so much) so I figured out microwave meals in the dorm that had a non-functional kitchen to supplement a low-end meal plan (you can actually cook frozen salmon effectively). A summer internship on the outskirts of Baltimore without a vehicle really got me into the habit of cooking as the closest fast food option (a Subway) was 3 miles away, so I stocked up on non-perishables at the beginning with a friend's car and then ran a few miles to the grocery store twice a week to pick up produce and dairy. Later I shared an apartment with a functional kitchen but no vehicle so the roommates all cooked meals since the bus didn't run to our place late. None of us were great cooks but reading instructions/ideas online and just experimenting yourself you can pick it up pretty easily, and the pre-packaged convenience cooking (looking at you Pasta-roni) can build up the confidence of someone new to cooking before they start tackling made from scratch and seasoning things based on instinct. After college I've continued to just teach myself cooking via youtube, cooking shows, and experimenting.

Most of my friends from college still don't really know how to cook, and now that my parents are retiring they're trying to learn (re-learn?) how to do it (when we moved back to the state we stayed with them while looking for a house and I was actually teaching them how to do things like cook vegetables). I think for many people it's a mix of laziness (take out is "easier") and lack of knowledge. My biggest apprehension when I was learning how to cook was around seasoning. I could follow directions on boiling rice or pasta pretty easily but figuring out how to not make them taste like the same bland thing every time was daunting (I just lived with the bland early on). You can follow a full recipe that includes whipping up a sauce or dry seasoning but the list of ingredients can quickly get long for those, and for the person who has nothing in the pantry at all it's hard to stomach buying 30 different seasonings that probably won't get used again. I never understood why more cookbooks didn't have recipes focusing on using very basic seasonings only, your salt, pepper, oil, garlic, and maybe a few herbs. I've still never cooked with Worcestershire and we threw out our vinegar when we moved as we had only used 1/4 of a bottle over a 3 year span.


On the topic of husbands cooking, get them into gas grilling. If you cook all your veggies and meats on the grill there's virtually no pans to clean afterwards and cleaning it is pretty easy as you just burn up most of the oil/drippings. The gas aspect eliminates the setup and take down time of a charcoal grill which is good for those who don't like the time aspect of cooking. For cooking nothing makes you feel manlier than grilling slabs of meat over a fire, and you get bonus points for doing it when it's below freezing out.


Man this thread has reminded me I need to cut back on dining out. Having a vehicle has made it so much easier slip into the lazy method of going to where someone else does the cooking.

skunkfunk

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Re: Americans now spend more in bars & restaurants than grocery stores
« Reply #99 on: May 18, 2015, 08:33:16 AM »

Man this thread has reminded me I need to cut back on dining out. Having a vehicle has made it so much easier slip into the lazy method of going to where someone else does the cooking.

Alright you and others who eat out for convenience, here's a quick meal faster than fast food that can be done with some non-perishable items and things you have on hand anyway.

Get a big bag or 2 of the frozen stir fry or teriyaki vegetables at Wal-Mart. Get a big bottle of teriyaki sauce (or whatever sauce you prefer.) Keep eggs on hand, keep rice on hand, keep oil on hand. If you suspect you'll be needing a quick meal sometime, cook a big batch of rice ahead of time. If not, it works without rice.

All you have to do is scramble the eggs, cook the rice, stir fry the vegetables for a minute and then throw in a little water and put a lid on. They'll steam nicely, leave it in there until the water is almost gone. Then add in the eggs and rice, throw some leftover meat in if it is handy. Stir in the sauce and after it is all warmed up you can eat.

If you have leftover rice handy it takes 8 minutes. If you don't, either leave out the rice or take the 25 minutes to make it. You can't go get food and get back home with it in 8 minutes. Can be done in a wok or a pan, with lid. Delicious, easy, cheaper than take-out. I do make sauces from scratch and do more complicated stuff but this is a go-to if you're in a hurry.

I'm no master chef but it is 75% as good as whatever I get at the sit down Chinese places. If you want something fancier you can make many other Chinese things in a comparable amount of time to getting a table at a nice restaurant. Of course, if you need Peking Duck or something you can forget it.

I won't hear any more arguments that you can't cook as fast as you can order out. 8 minutes from the moment you walk in the kitchen, delicious Chinese fast food.