Home > Dining out - It isn't what it used to be, at least for us

Dining out - It isn't what it used to be, at least for us

October 4th, 2020 at 08:08 pm

The hub and I have not dined out much since March. Instead, the hub has really practiced and dialed in his smoking and bbqing skills and techniques. I have done the same with my baking and cooking skills. Needless to say, we have ate much cheaper, healthier and conveniently from home for months.

We live out in the country. We are about 30+ minutes away from most restaurants. So, in order to eat out, its at least an hour travel time (there and back) then seating, ordering and waiting... 2+ hours plus gas to go out to a $50 or more meal that we can make at home for usually a fraction of the cost.

Second, its just not the same quality anymore when compared to what we can make at home. After eating home cooking exclusively, eating out just doesn't taste as desirable anymore.

And finally, it's more risky, we have to wear a mask, and because they are limiting the number of diners- the wait time is frustrating.

I used to LOVE going out to eat, but our last two experiences have made me rethink if its really the same "treat' that it used to be, and honestly, its just NOT.

Is anyone else finding this to be true?

The silver lining of course, is that we are eating more frugally and healthy, which will align with retirement budget oh, so much better!!

8 Responses to “Dining out - It isn't what it used to be, at least for us”

  1. Jane Says:

    I was never big on eating out but am completely put off it since the pandemic started. Even with outdoor dining, the number of waitstaff who grudgingly wear their masks pulled down so their whole nose is exposed is disturbing and they always seem to appear at the table too quickly to get your own mask back on from eating before they are one foot away. Takeout seems like the best compromise for supporting local businesses while not being needlessly exposed.

  2. disneysteve Says:

    I'm totally with you. My wife and I have always loved eating out. We rarely went to the national chains and generic places (Chili's, Applebee's, Friday's, etc.) but really enjoyed having a good meal at a chef-owned/operated sort of place where everything was fresh and cooked to order. And we were happy to spend the money to do so.

    For 4 full months, March until July, we didn't eat out at all since it wasn't possible. We have been out a number of times since outdoor dining resumed. It was a bit rough during the summer with the heat, humidity, and bugs, but we did it and had several nice meals. The past couple of weeks the weather has been beautiful, much more appropriate for outdoor dining and we've been out once or twice.

    It's nice, but ultimately, it's not the same as indoor dining. For one thing, at most places around here you're eating in a roped off section of the parking lot, so it tends to lack something in ambiance.

    Another thing is that due to the financial strains from the pandemic, many places have trimmed their menus to cut costs. One of our favorite restaurants, a place we used to go to about once a month, did that and many of the items we used to order are no longer served. We haven't eaten there since March (it was actually our last restaurant meal before the shutdown). I'm sure we'll venture over there at some point (we actually have a $20 credit to use) but the draw isn't as strong as it used to be.

    We did do a fair amount of takeout the past several months. If nothing else, that's cheaper since you don't need to tip. I did tip each time, which I wouldn't normally do on takeout orders but wanted to do our part to help them out, but I didn't give them 20% level.

    Eventually, when dining indoors is safe again, whenever that might be, I'm sure we'll gravitate back as we really do enjoy fine dining (and some good casual dining as well). None of that is easily replicated at home.

  3. MonkeyMama Says:

    This is something I probably learned a decade ago. Of course, the more we cook at home (and the better cooks that we become over the decades), the more "meh" we feel about eating out. I do miss eating out socially, which is probably the only reason I ever ate out in the first place. It will be nice when that normalcy can resume again. (I haven't eaten out since March and doubt I will again for a long time. I just don't care enough to take the risk. If it was something I missed at all, might be another story).

    Even living in a big city, minutes from infinite restaurants, I always felt it was more of a time suck to go out. Between all the travel/parking time, waiting for food, etc. Eating dinner ends up taking up the whole evening. I can see that adding an hour of travel time just magnifies that.

  4. Lots of Ideas Says:

    I live alone, and eating out for me was as much a way to interact with others as a way to get fed. Before I retired, I traveled a fair amount for work and wasn’t willing to eat room service in my hotel so I learned to be comfortable eating in ‘nice’ restaurants alone, even in my own city. And I had a few neighborhood places where I went regularly and knew the staff, and other patrons enough to speak too.

    Many of ‘my’ places are closed, some permanently. I really miss going out for breakfast at my coffee shop, or stopping at the local bagel place and people watching. I’ve realized how much of my life was fueled by people I only knew in passing, or not at all.

    I am getting takeout once a week from a place very close to my house. I buy a few things, enough for several meals, because cooking for myself holds no pleasure for me. I used to cook and share with someone, but the pandemic ended that too.

    I think my life post pandemic will be very different than before and I am not sure what it will look like.

  5. terri77 Says:

    I used to eat out way more than I ever cooked. Now the situation has reversed. I do like sitting down to a good meal at a restaurant, but I realize for my health - in multiple ways - it is much better to cook at home.

  6. disneysteve Says:

    Another problem is that a number of places we like have no outdoor seating. We're not willing to eat indoors so that rules out a lot of places we like to go.

  7. LivingAlmostLarge Says:

    We have "eaten" out once since the pandemic. We got take out and sat outside at a brewery. That's it. DH and I used to go out to eat a lot. Our CC bill prove it. We ate out a lot while traveling. Always never cook. We ate take out or out in general weekly. But now we've gone out once in September. That isn't to say we don't do take out but when we do we tip 20% anyway.

    But about 1-2/week we do takeout. But our takeout is cheap. We are talking more like chick-fil-a or pizza. We do a couple of times chinese or thai, but not a ton. It's not because we like cooking. I don't love it.

    But we aren't comfortable going out to eat. My DH is contemplating us going out to eat outdoors but the truth of the matter is that the weather is turning and it was bad for most of september with the fires that it was not feasible. We aren't at all ready to eat indoors. So here we sit not going out to eat.

    Also when we went out to eat it was things I still can't really make at home and I cook a lot at home. But the stuff we went out for is mostly like chinese and asian style cooking that i don't have the energy or spices to make. I can make simple stuff but not the really fancy asian/east asian cooking.

  8. disneysteve Says:

    "when we went out to eat it was things I still can't really make at home"

    I've found a reasonable substitute for that is going the "semi-homemade" route. Buy some ready-made items and fill in with some homemade stuff.

    We just did this tonight. I bought a packaged, pre-cooked rack of BBQ ribs. For dinner, I threw those in the oven and while they were warming, I roasted some fresh asparagus, made some seasoned brown rice, and warmed up some corn bread we had in the freezer.

    I don't have a smoker. I couldn't have made those ribs at home. So this was a way for us to have a nice meal at home for a lot less than the cost of eating out while still enjoying something that we would normally order in a restaurant.

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