When and Why You Should Or Should Not Eat At Restaurants

eat at restaurantsEating out at restaurants seems to happen more and more every single year.

The number of restaurants in our area always seems to be increasing.

The only way to sustain more restaurants, unless population grows, is for people to be eating out more.

However, lately I’ve been wondering why dining out at restaurants is so popular.

Yes, someone prepares whatever you decide to order and does your dishes, but they do so at a very inflated price.

The fancier the restaurant, the more you pay over the true cost of the food.

Here are some of my thoughts on dining out. Let me know if you agree or disagree and if you’ll change your dining out habits or not.

Dining Out – Not As Convenient As You Think

Dining out seems super convenient on the surface, but in the end I don’t think it is as convenient as you think. First, you have to fight the battle of where to go. It normally takes a while to settle on a location everyone in my family is happy with.

Then, once you decide, you have to travel to the restaurant and wait to be seated. You have to comb over a huge menu and decide what you want. However, chances are most of the time nothing looks super special, so you just get your regular item at the restaurant or some common food you are familiar with.

The food is brought to you, you eat, then someone takes your dishes away. You pay for the meal and pay the server a tip for serving you. All of that effort could easily take an hour and a half to two hours for just one meal and that is supposed to be quicker than cooking a meal yourself at home?

When you cook a meal at home, it can take a while to prepare and cook a meal and a little bit of time to do the dishes. However, in most cases, I bet we could prepare and eat food faster by just staying at home, cooking a meal and cleaning up immediately afterward.

The Food Tastes Better When Eating Out

Many people would argue that the food they eat while dining out tastes better in some way than the food they can make at home. While that may be the case today, with a little bit of effort and the right tools, you can learn to cook many of the foods you eat in restaurants.

Most people try to eat healthier at home than they do dining out, but if you follow recipes for your favorite restaurant foods you can find online, chances are you can cook a pretty similar tasting dish. Yes, there are a lot of high calorie or high fat content ingredients, but that is why restaurant food tastes so good.

Don’t let the argument that restaurant food tastes better let your bank account shrink. Learn to cook the better tasting food yourself. Even if you have to cook with ingredients that aren’t healthy, you’d eat them at the restaurants, too.

Why You Should Dine Out

I’m not against dining out at restaurants at all. Instead, I think we should eat out, but it should be something you look forward to and a treat, rather than a chore to pick where you’ll dine out tonight.

Dining out at restaurants should be reserved for special occasions so it doesn’t become a regular part of our lives. If you don’t look forward to dining out, what’s the point of going? If it takes the same amount of time to cook at home and you can cook the same foods, why pay the inflated prices restaurants charge?

You may want to eat out to try out new specialty foods or authentically cooked items. In that case, I say go for it. Then, if you find out you love these specialty foods, consider learning how to cook them yourselves.

You may want to go out because everyone wants to have something different for dinner. That’s fine, too. Just don’t let dining out become the default option when no one else can figure out what to do for dinner. Some nights you’ll get to eat your favorite dish while other nights you’ll have to let others have their favorite dish.

Whenever you do end up deciding to eat at home, make sure you take that extra money you’ll save and put it in your bank account or investment account. You’ll thank me later.

Do you just go out to eat at restaurants because it is the easy option? Or do you really look forward to the experience? Do you eat out because you’re an awful cook? Why don’t you learn to cook a few dishes you love from restaurants, instead? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Photo by: wuestenigel Text added by: Lance Cothern

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About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.


  1. Going out to dinner with two kids under 6 isn’t really all that fun or convenient anyway. Not to mention, dining for four can get expensive!

    • I bet it isn’t much fun. Although honestly, most of the timing dining out isn’t a super fun experience. It’s nice to not have to cook and do the dishes but I wouldn’t classify that as fun.

    • Holly, I totally agree! We have 2 kids under 4, and going out is such a massive pain every single time, it’s more expensive and less practical than eating home, for us. This is why I claim that kids aren’t as expensive as people say they are: kids save us lots of money by making experiences such as “eating out” a massive pain 😉

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