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December 6th, 2004

Dining Out

Simple question: how many times per week do Pingers dine out?

I ask because, well, I’m curious. There’s more and more thought out there that people have less and less time to put together meals, and usually just pick up something or order in. While I can say the convenience foods are, uhm, convenient, it’s nice to have a home-cooked meal (whatever that means nowadays.) Yet finding time for that does seem to be a bit challenging.

I’d say that dinner-wise, I eat out up to twice a week – sometimes thrice. For lunches, which I usually bring to work, Friday is the designated dining out day – but on occasion I get tired of sandwiches and pick up something mid-week.

Posted in Food and Beverage

FROM: Ryan [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday December 6, 2004 -- 10:07:21 am
Can't believe we haven't done this one before, as I often wonder the same thing.

I've worked with people that go out to lunch every single day, and that blows my mind. I don't know how anyone can afford it. That goes double for people that always eat out/order out and never cook for themselves. It's got to get expensive mighty fast.

We eat out for dinner about once every two weeks, on average. I will eat out for lunch once every 1-2 weeks. (This, of course, doesn't take into account anytime we travel.) This month, though, is an anomaly. In one week's time, we'll have eaten out three times for dinner and I'll have eaten out three times for lunch. That's unheard of!

FROM: Cat [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday December 6, 2004 -- 11:53:20 am
We manage to have home-cooked most of the evenings, especially now that I'm working half time. We eat dinner out once or twice a week, but lunch out is a rarity. Our real weakness is Delivered Dish, and we call them about once a week. For a while, we were eating out quite a bit, and it was getting spendy, so we developed a "bean system"--there are ten beans in a little dish by the door. They are replenished on Sunday. Each time we spend $5 on restaurant food, we take away a bean. Yep, that's $100/week, but we almost never spend all our beans.

This leads to interesting conversations like: "Do we have any beans left this week? Yeah, but not enough for good Italian."

FROM: Heather
DATE: Monday December 6, 2004 -- 12:35:08 pm
"'s nice to have a home-cooked meal (whatever that means nowadays.)"
That's a good topic too! My husband thinks that if I use a box (ie Hamburger Helper or the like) to fix dinner, it's not home-cooked!!! I argue that these days most meals are helped along by something from a box or can. I mean he was raised on gravy from a packet, while my mom made it from scratch...

FROM: jk
DATE: Monday December 6, 2004 -- 12:58:13 pm gravy from a packet, no!! On the other hand, instant mashed potatoes are fine by me.

I eat out maybe twice a week, but make up for the $$ by bringing my own meals to work. People are always looking to see what I brought before they go out and spend $10 on lunch. I save so much money by bringing my own food, and I don't have to wait in line or deal with slow service.

A lot of carry-out meals are sooo huge, I can get two meals out of them. I justify carry-out dinners by figuring out how many ingredients I'd have to buy and how much time and oven heat it would take to prepare the meals myself. Often I am so tired, I will just go home and eat cereal at night. Carry-out is a decent alternative for me!!

FROM: Cat [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday December 6, 2004 -- 1:21:27 pm
Heather: it sounds like your husband needs to do the cooking for a while!

I use shortcuts all the time (I even admit to them publicly: ). I figure if I'm in the kitchen and the food's warm, it's home cooked.

FROM: Rob [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday December 6, 2004 -- 1:31:17 pm
We eat out too often for dinner. But I pretty much never eat out for lunch on the weekdays. Weekends are a different story, but I almost always bring a lunch to work.

At this point, I consider anything that's not cooked in the microwave home-cooked. I just usually feel too tired and/or hungry after I get home from work to cook something elaborate.

FROM: Ryan [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday December 6, 2004 -- 2:55:37 pm ... wow, who knew you had a food blog, Cat? And thanks for the link!

Re: the meanin g of "home cooked" -- these days I think that Rob's definition's a good one. It means taking at least a little time to prepare, mix, and heat food, even if some of it's already done for you (for instance, I rarely ever make vegetable stock from scratch... to me, using a powder gives you "close enough" results with much less time and effort). The main reason I wouldn't include a frozen dinner in the "home made" category is because of the heavy sodium content required in most frozen meals.

jk brings up a good point: restaurant meals become a lot more economical (twice as much, duh!) if you can get two meals out of it. As long as you're comfortable taking some home with you, you can often get a big dish at a Vietnamese restaurant for $8 and take half of it home. That's not bad.

FROM: Cat [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday December 6, 2004 -- 4:17:51 pm
You know, I wasn't even thinking about frozen dinners. Nope, that's not homemade. ^Guess I'm too far removed from my bachelor days.^

Yes also to jk--sure, we can drop $50 for a bunch of Indian food, but we eat that stuff for days.

FROM: Dave Walls [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday December 6, 2004 -- 6:17:20 pm
I eat about about twice a week -- I actually wish I could cook in my house more often, but my current living conditions don't allow that. Next best option: (as Ryan suggested)..get two meals out of what you get when you are out. There's a local Vietnamese restaraunt that I frequent, and I can never finish a whole serving of pan-fried noodles. *drool*

FROM: Matt
DATE: Monday December 6, 2004 -- 10:40:23 pm
I might eat one dinner out a week. Possibly two if a friend is in town.

FROM: Ryan [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday December 6, 2004 -- 11:58:06 pm
I eat about about twice a week

Dave -- you're going to waste away to nothing!

FROM: Dave Walls [E-Mail]
DATE: Tuesday December 7, 2004 -- 2:12:05 pm
Grr -- Why having my typing skills eroded so much? Must be the lack of food!! ;p

Hah, those of you who have seen me know that's not a problem. ;)

DATE: Thursday December 9, 2004 -- 5:35:58 pm
Every single time i go to my dads house we go out to the same place "the diner" It has a longer better name wiht family restaurant in it but i dont no it. Well me, my dad and my borhter always get iced teas, and nick always spend money on the claw machine and so do i, i have become quite skilled at the game actually.

FROM: Merle [E-Mail]
DATE: Saturday December 11, 2004 -- 3:37:05 pm
I eat out about five times a week -- usually weekday lunches. It's great to get away from the office for a short time, and allows coworkers to bond somewhat (and rant about the company).

Besides, there are some things that you really do not want to have to make yourself. Vietnamese vermicelli salads, for instance, would require lots of different veggies (but a small amount of each) and a lot of preparation. And don't even think about making the dozen dishes of panchan for a good Korean meal. You can buy prepared ones, but then you'll be eating Korean all week, not just for one meal. Thai panang beef, too, is best slow-cooked in a huge pot, but who wants it more than once a week? If there are only two people in your family, some things are not worth making yourself.

Food is the spice of life for me. I cannot imagine eating the same food over and over. Even repeating cuisines within a week is hard on me. That said, I am not a great cook, so eating out provides that variety.

But I do enjoy home meals. They are a lot healthier, as well (if you make them that way). I don't think we've bought a box of hamburger helper in six years, ever since I tried to make it from scratch and found out how simple it was (and it tasted better, too).

FROM: jk
DATE: Sunday December 12, 2004 -- 12:58:38 am
Welcome Merle! Extra points to you for spelling like a pro.

I agree about eating different cuisines. For decades, my town had an incredible German/Austrian restaurant but the owners literally just moved to FL. I am heartbroken, as their Sacher Torte was better than any I'd ever had, even IN Europe. I cannot operate a spring form pan and therefore will never recreate her masterpiece. I used to get carry-out from there quite frequently. (And it of course lasted for at least 2 meals....sigh....)

FROM: Merle [E-Mail]
DATE: Saturday December 18, 2004 -- 10:38:17 am
Thanks, jk!

It's interesting how "the best X" cuisine is often not actually in the country of X, but is elsewhere. A coworker constantly raves about "the best pho", which he says is found at some upscale restaurant in Paris.

It's enough to make me wonder what country is home to the best hamburger...

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