Some of the more common complaints I hear about “good-quality” food is that it costs too much. Hmm. To that I say, reconsider your budget. How often are you going out to eat? How much to you spend, per person, at the restaurant (including tip)? What about the gas to get there? How about the time to round everyone up, drive to the restaurant, wait for the service, pay and leave. Are you still sure that you couldn’t have cooked a much better, healthier meal, for a lot less at home? If the answer is yes, then I am rather concerned about your choice of restaurants. ;)
Now, don’t get me wrong! I love eating out—I do! But, I only eat out for food that I cannot make at home, due to lack of equipment, ingredient quality, etc. I do some shopping at local restaurant depots; if you’ve never been, take my word for it—the food restaurants are serving you is WELL below sub-par. It’s downright frightening. I like to buy fresh milk, butter, flour, sugar and other basic staples at the depot. But, the food I pass includes things like frozen cheesecake slices, frozen mozzarella sticks, frozen pizza appetizer bits. Each time I see them, my mind floats to restaurants that charge $8.95 for a plate of these preservative-filled air pockets, while making a huge profit off of my laziness.
I remember my very first understanding that restaurant food wasn’t made fresh (at least at chain restaurants; there is a LOT to be said for small, family-owned restaurants!); I was at a national chain that uses a piece of fruit in their logo, along with the insect that makes honey. I ordered the “baked potato soup,” but asked if they could not add a certain portion of the topping–I wish I could remember what, specifically. The reply of the young waitress has haunted me for over ten years. “Oh, we can’t change it. We just open a pouch of frozen stuff and microwave it.” I think I canceled the order and munched on the tortilla chip appetizer. Though I was still years away from learning to cook, that was the beginnings of wondering exactly what I was paying for.