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7 Reasons We Prefer To Dine In March 30, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Health & Wellness, Home & Garden.

The other day, a new acquaintance shared a list of her favorite restaurants with me, urging us to try them.  When I told her that we prefer to eat at home, she seemed surprised.

As touched upon in The Zen of Cooking, here are 7 reasons why we prefer to “dine in” rather than “going out” to eat:

1.  Healthier options and portions.   When we eat at home, we rarely eat fried foods and we tend to eat less.  Instead of downing behemoth servings of pasta served with a sprig of parsley for garnish, we eat fiber and vitamin rich foods that fill us up without filling us out.  Leftovers land in the fridge, not on our waist, hips, and thighs.

2.  No anchovies, please!  Preparing meals at home gives us control over the ingredients we use.  Instead of foods smothered in high caloric sauces or drowning in oil, we eat simply prepared fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans with no ‘shrooms, eggplants, or anchovies in sight!

3.  No waiting.  Many people view eating out as a time saver, when it rarely saves time.  We can enjoy a delicious and healthy dinner from start to finish (cooking, serving, eating, and cleaning up the leftovers) in far less time than driving to a restaurant, parking the car, waiting for a table, perusing the menu, waiting for a waiter, placing the order, waiting for the order, eating, waiting for the check, paying the check, waiting for a receipt, driving back home, and changing out of clothes that “suddenly” became too tight.

4.  No noise pollution.  Eating at home gives us  greater control over the environment.  We can choose the music, the lighting, and our dining companions,  creating an oasis of peace and quiet.  Conversation is not stilted or inhibited by loud and obnoxious cretins, crying babies, or cranky children vying for attention.

5.  We know the chef.  Our local news features a weekly segment called Dirty Dining.  The reporter goes behind the scenes in restaurants and eateries and documents . . . GROSS! . . . cockroaches and food storage issues and employees who do NOT wash their hands before touching food.  Yuck.  At home, we know the chef washed his/her hands before handling our food.

6.  Energy Savings.  Eating at home is better for the environment than making a special trip out to eat, and it results in less packaging waste from bulky styrofoam boxes used to transport leftovers.

abgott77. More for the Money.  We can  serve a delicious pasta dinner to 8 people for about $9, or just over $1 a serving:

1 lb. pasta ($1), 32 oz. spaghetti sauce  ($2), 1 lb. zucchini sautéed  with onions and peppers ($1), 1 loaf homemade Crusty Cuban  bread  ($1), salad with lettuce ($1.50), carrots ($.25), celery ($.25), red pepper ($.50), nuts, raisins, or olives ($.50), homemade Italian dressing ($1).

Ordering a similar dinner out might approach $20 per person: $12 (pasta and breadsticks) + $3 side salad + $3 tip + $1 tax = $19 per person.

Beverage not included.

Other crowd pleasing favorites that are healthy, simple to prepare, and easy on the budget include: vegetarian chilis, curries, stir fries, soups, stews, and casseroles.  For ideas and recipes:  A Month of Meatless Meals.

We do enjoy eating out once or twice a month, especially if the location adds real value to the experience (e.g., waterfront dining, gorgeous mountaintop vistas, or historical significance of the building itself ~ such as the historic taverns in Williamsburg), or the restaurant serves something we are not inclined to make at home, like . . .

Chocolate Bread Pudding “cradled by a warm bourbon sauce topped with Häagen-Dazs vanilla bean ice cream and a homemade chocolate crisp.”

No rules.  Just write!

What about you?  Do you prefer to dine in or eat out?  Does what you eat  depend upon where you eat?

And, on a related note, do you enjoy the journey of cooking?  Does creating in the kitchen fill you with pleasure, and allow you to relax and unwind?  Or would you rather leave the cooking to someone else?

Related posts: Holiday Parties * Top 10 Ways to Keep the Weight OFF * Lose Weight by Satisfying your True Hunger * Food & Fitness ~ Holiday Diet Tips

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 Artwork by Anne Abbgott ~ available at Island Gallery West.


1. run4joy59 - March 30, 2011

I totally agree with you…healthier, less expensive, a more peaceful environment (well…most of the time), and the “joy of cooking”!

nrhatch - March 30, 2011

Yes, the joy of cooking . . . cutting, chopping, peeling, and delightful aromas and scents wafting through the air.

Thanks, run4joy!

2. phrogmom - March 30, 2011

we rarely eat out, mainly for two little squirmy reasons….but i agree, i think the food is better at home. i do enjoy takeout every once in a while, but it isn’t that common around here! thanks for sharing the recipes!!

nrhatch - March 30, 2011

You’re smart. Sitting in a restaurant is hard for wee ones. At home, they can run around until it’s time to sit down and eat. In a restaurant, they’re sitting a LONG time before the food arrives. No wonder some of them get cranky. 🙂

This summer, you’ll want to cook and eat at home to enjoy the bounty of that fabulous garden!

3. Cindy - March 30, 2011

Well, the journey of cooking is my bliss, as you know. I love to go to restaurants, but I also love to cook for friends. No rules for me 😀

nrhatch - March 30, 2011

I’m with you, Cin. Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. 😀

When I’m in the mood to cook, I love to go into the kitchen and play. When I dine out, I enjoy every moment of the experience ~ I’m just not inclined to do it daily (or even weekly).

4. granny1947 - March 30, 2011

I agree NR…we seldom go out…much prefer to be at home…after all…I have been away from home all day!

nrhatch - March 30, 2011

Eating at home is very comforting . . . especially after being gone all day.

When I worked outside the home, I brought my lunch with me for many of the same reasons ~ it was healthier, exactly what I wanted, I could pull it out and be eating in minutes, it cost less, etc.

5. Baxter Bunny - March 30, 2011

I love eating out with my friends, I like the unpredicted environment…it can be really fun, but I only do it once in a while. I also like the routine of making my own meals because I get to decide how much oil and salt is used. Living in New York, the average entree at a decent sit-down restaurant is around $22 per person (that’s not including salad)…expensive!

nrhatch - March 30, 2011

In my younger years, I loved going out with friends . . . especially for Happy Hour someplace with live music and dancing. In Philly, there were some fantastic places right on the waterfront to dance under the stars and have a “nosh.”

I’ve eaten at some amazing NYC restaurants over the years ~ Mama Leone’s, the Russian Tea Room, Shalimar, etc. Such variety.

Yesterday, we saw an Ice Cream Parlor in NYC (Sensations 3?) that had a $1,000 ice cream sundae on the menu. They sell about 10 a year. The ingredients are flown in from around the world. It must be ordered 48 hours in advance. 😀

6. Artswebshow - March 30, 2011

I work in restaurants and know enough about the industry to know it is better to dine in.
You rarely get value for money, a lot of these dishes have a high profit margin.
Also be careful of specials, usually it is food that is getting to the and of what they can legally keep it for, lol
Though on saying that eating in isn’t good for business. lol
I guess that why i like to go out to coffee shops even though i have a pot of perfectly cheap coffee at home.

nrhatch - March 30, 2011

Thanks, Art. I’ve heard that about Specials . . . that the food is on its “last legs.” 😦

For me, the best value is when it’s something that I can’t easily create at home . . . or when everyone wants something different and I don’t feel like being a short order chef.

It’s funny how many comedy shows set in NYC focus on characters hanging around in Coffee Shops ~ Friends, Seinfeld, Rules of Engagement.

I thought maybe it was illegal to own a coffee pot for home brewing in the Big Apple. 😀

7. SuziCate - March 30, 2011

We eat most meals at home…I love to cook, and we all love to eat…more economical and just more “homey”. However, I do enjoy the meal out here and there, especially if it’s sushi!

nrhatch - March 30, 2011

I enjoy going out when people visit from out of town, especially if I don’t know their likes and dislikes. It’s just easier to head out and let everyone order what they want.

And we LOVED that restaurant on Chincoteague I told you about ~ AJ’s on the Creek. Shrimp Scampi over pasta, salad with goat cheese buttons, homemade croutons and artichoke vinaigrette. Mmm . . .

8. oldancestor - March 30, 2011

It’s fun to go out, but it’s a money pit. I enjoy it for the company and to try some things I might not have at home.

We probably go out too much, but I’ll blame my wife, since she’s not here to defend herself. She grew up in a city where restaurants are stacked 4 and 5 deep, so it was normal for her to eat out a lot.

I’ll leave out the facts that it’s usually me who suggests we stop for food when we’re out and about.

nrhatch - March 30, 2011

Sounds about right, OA. It’s great to try things that we’d never cook for ourselves, especially if the atmosphere is right.

On the coast of Maine, we pulled into any number of lobster places to soak up the ambience with a fresh lobster roll and fries.

We ate out more often when we lived in NJ ~ great Italian food within a stone’s throw of our house. We also loved to go out on Sunday morning to pick up fresh bagels!

Once we moved to Deal Island, the closest restaurant was . . . 16 miles away! We got into the habit of dining in (or getting take out on the way home) rather than heading out to eat.

Hey, why am I getting hungry all of a sudden? 🙂

9. Maggie - March 30, 2011

It’s very rare when I eat out, but it’s a nice treat every once in a while. What I like about eating at home is knowing exactly how the food is prepared and knowing there’s nothing nefarious going on in the kitchen!

nrhatch - March 30, 2011

I agree. It’s great as a change of pace, but going out gets old quickly.

We have folks on our street who go out for ALL their meals ~ breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Even the idea exhausts me.

When we go on vacation, if we eat out 3 meals a day, I start to feel like an Ooompa Loompa. 😀

10. Debra - March 30, 2011

Great post 🙂

i prefer to eat-in with a veggie diet in mind. Yet the rest of my household prefers meat and would eat out everyday (most days)

Soon i will be evolving my diet to remove meat while still trying to provide meat for the household. should be interesting.

Nancy…I really enjoy the food art…can you please email or send a link to where you found these? They are tasty. :)thanks again

nrhatch - March 30, 2011

When I switched to vegetarian, BFF lagged behind a bit . . . but over time he began to prefer vegetarian lasagne and soups to meat dishes.

Rather than creating new recipes, I started with dishes and recipes we loved and just swapped out the meat for veggies or Boca (soy). We already loved Corn Chowder, Macaroni and Cheese, Spaghetti, etc.

Except for the lasagne (from wiki), the link to the Art is at the bottom ~ the artist is Anne Abbgott and her work is available for purchase at Island Gallery West.

11. Julie - March 30, 2011

My Dad always used to say, after a great home-cooked meal, “You just can’t eat any better than this.”

Now I catch myself saying the same thing to my kids…

nrhatch - March 30, 2011

That’s often how I feel . . . we’ll be eating a simple dinner and I’ll be thinking, There is nothing I’d rather be eating. There is no where I’d rather be.

Aah . . . bliss!

12. Jean - March 30, 2011

I love to go out to if I know it will be a good experience. But it is getting too expensive to do so. I like to cook when I have time, but working, working out, protesting and creating a garden take priority for me. I usually just eat a box of veggies over rice or pasta and call it a meal. Once a week I may cook a regular meal. Since I don’t eat meat and my hubby does, we just do our own thing.

nrhatch - March 30, 2011

Good point, Jean. I don’t like fixing elaborate meals if I feel rushed, but veggies with rice or pasta often grace our dinner plates ~ I just vary up the sauces:

Peanut sauce for quick Thai.
Teriyaki sauce for Stir Fries and Lo Mein.
Curry powder for Indian.
Chili powder for Mexican.

13. therunninggarlic - March 30, 2011

What an excellent list! The health benefits cooking at home are tremendous and your points are perfect. The flavors are definitely enjoyed more at home especially from the garden 🙂

nrhatch - March 30, 2011

Fresh fruits and vegetables are terrific to work with ~ we are fortunate to have lots of farmer’s markets around so we can get both.

And still I miss my garden . . . 😦

14. Carol Ann Hoel - March 30, 2011

Great post, Nancy. I have to agree that eating in can be a delightful experience. Ah, I love to cook and plan meals that are healthy. I try to cook just enough, to decrease the temptation to overeat. I keep adding new recipes from the world of blog.

We like dining out, also. We seldom visit restaurants with fine cuisine because our budget is small, but we often stop at McDonald’s while we’re out shopping. The price is right, the time spent is small, and we like the food. Yup. We like it. We almost always order a fish fillet, medium, meal, with diet Coke. I have to add that we do occasionally dine at nicer restaurants, but, as you point out, the servings are too large and it requires a wait for the food. Still, dining out has a magical romance about it. We like it and on special occasions, we do it. Blessings to you, Nancy.

nrhatch - March 30, 2011

Thanks, Carol Ann. BFF loves McD’s fish fillet sandwiches. I like the chocolate shakes with salty fries.

When we want “healthy” fast food, we often head to Subway for a Veggie Sub loaded with cheese, peppers, olives, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, pickles, etc. Great to take on picnics.

15. Greg Camp - March 30, 2011

Sharie has pointed out to me that eating out means not having to cook for yourself. Sometimes, it’s pleasant to let someone else do all the work. But I do appreciate having control over the meal and the setting–no company that we don’t want, no need to be careful about how many glasses of wine we drink, etc.

nrhatch - March 30, 2011

I do like having others do the cooking on occasion ~ it’s a nice break. And if the atmosphere is good, quite relaxing and festive.

I especially like eating out . . . out of doors. Dining Al Fresco while overlooking a stream, creek, lake, or sea always makes the food taste great.

16. Rosa - March 30, 2011

I find that the more I eat at home, the more I want from a restaurant experience. If I am in the habit of eating out all the time, it’s just that- a habit. But if I only go out to eat once in a while, I have much higher expectations- like your Chocolate Bread Pudding! I want them to serve me something I wouldn’t get at home! Yum!

nrhatch - March 30, 2011

Excellent point, Rosa.

The less frequently I eat out, the more value I want to get from the experience. And the easier it is for us to cross a restaurant “off the list” of places to eat in the future if we don’t enjoy everything about the experience.

17. kateshrewsday - March 30, 2011

Finance and keeping the kids healthy dictates that we eat at home. If I lived a single life in New York, though, I would choose out every time because I love the sheer exhibitionism of the whole experience. Frocks, the hubbub of conversation, crashing plates from the kitchen, being alone and yet surrounded. I have always, I fear, been addicted to restaurants 🙂

nrhatch - March 30, 2011

Crashing plates in the kitchen always catch my attention too. And I love to eavesdrop on the conversations around me . . . and see what other people are ordering and eating. Yes, if I lived a single life in NYC, I would certainly eat out more often. 🙂

Unless, of course, living in the city drove me bonkers, which it would, in short order, causing me to move out of the city and away from the restaurants, glitz, and glamour.

I’m a country girl at heart ~ city lights hold little appeal. Probably another reason that I enjoy eating in a peaceful oasis at home.

kateshrewsday - March 31, 2011

Your Christmas picture bore that out. Never seen someone so laid back 🙂

nrhatch - March 31, 2011

Growing up, in school, and as a practicing attorney, I was Type A all the way. Once I became more mindful of what really made me happy, I laid some of that frenetic energy and ambition to rest so that I could “go with the flow.”

Now I’m content with less and far happier than I ever was while (as Lennon would say) riding the merry go round. 😀

18. Tilly Bud - March 30, 2011

We eat out once or twice a year at most, for family celebrations, so it’s a treat for me. Although I find cooking tedious, I know it is a much cheaper and healthier option, which makes it a bearable exercise.

nrhatch - March 30, 2011

Wow! That’s really impressive. We’re moving in that direction. But we probably still end up eating out once or twice a month.

Cooking is tedious when I’m not in the mood and a joy when I am in the right frame of mind. Then, I’ll cook up a storm and freeze the extras for when cooking does not seem appealing.

19. Pooja - March 30, 2011

Definitely agree, Nancy. I personally will also add one more item to the list: Bored of dining out!

When you’ve tried every cuisine and most restaurants in the city, what could ever motivate you to do it again?


nrhatch - March 30, 2011

Good point, Pooja.

There are a number of restaurants that we wanted to try when we moved to Florida. We’ve tried many of them and don’t feel inclined to make a repeat visit.

20. adeeyoyo - March 30, 2011

I too prefer to eat at home, Nancy. Most times the portions are far too much, and now and then too small. When out I have been known to order dessert INSTEAD of a meal! Thanks for the link to Meatless Meals. I find I am eating less and less meat.

nrhatch - March 31, 2011

Last month, we went out for dessert and loved it. May do that again sometime soon. Sweets for the sweet. 😉

When we transitioned from meat to meatless, I just figured out ways to enjoy our favorite recipes by swapping out the meat and adding in more veggies, beans, and grains.

21. carldagostino - March 30, 2011

Yep, Florida not so great for restaurants. So you have to get used to the mid level restaurant chains or go to a place that has a mortgage broker right there so you can pay. There are still some mom and pops that are OK.

nrhatch - March 31, 2011

There are a few of those mortgage brokers restaurants around here. We haven’t tried any of them. 😀

We did enjoy the Crow’s Nest in Venice at the pier. Good food, good prices, and nice views.

22. jannatwrites - March 31, 2011

Our news does the ‘dirty dining’ segments, too. Sign me up for food poisoning (no, not really!)

I agree with all of your reasons for dining in, although the cost (#7) is the biggest reason we dine in. Dinner at a sit-down restaurant for a family of four is a budget-buster for sure. Even ordering from a fast food dollar menu can get pricey.

nrhatch - March 31, 2011

The Dirty Dining segments are so disgusting. It amazes me that the featured restaurants are even in business.

Eating out adds up fast . . . and restaurants really sock it to you with the drink prices. They put $.20 worth of soda in a glass and charge $2.00 for it!

23. eof737 - March 31, 2011

I love pasta and a month of meatless recipes is my kind of lifestyle… I love eating out but I do prefer to make certain foods and would not eat them outside… 🙂

nrhatch - March 31, 2011

One of the best things about meatless meals is the cost ~ instead of blowing big bucks at the meat counter, we fill up our cart with fresh produce and grains for a fraction of what a few packages of meat would run. And it’s better for us ~ more fiber, more vitamins, and less saturated fat.

24. adeeyoyo - March 31, 2011

‘…no ‘shrooms, eggplants, or anchovies in sight!… why?

I love them all! Do you just dislike them or are they ‘supposed to be’ bad for you?

nrhatch - March 31, 2011

Except for poisonous mushrooms, I expect they’re fine. We’re just not fans.

25. William D'Andrea - March 31, 2011

I’m a single guy living alone. I do all my own cooking and I never hear any complaints.

nrhatch - March 31, 2011

Awesome! I like working for myself for the same reason . . . my “boss” lets me know what’s expected and never complains as long as I do my best. 😀

26. Sandra Bell Kirchman - March 31, 2011

Reason #8: You’re probably a better cook than I am.

I seem to be in the minority here. I dislike cooking. It’s like weeding…you just get it all done, you clean up, and then you have to start all over again. Fortunately, my husband likes to cook and he IS a better cook than I am. He says that food has to be cooked with love or it doesn’t taste right. I agree.

We have a deal…he often does the cooking, unless he is wiped from a hard day at work, in which case I gladly cook. I do all the cleaning up and putting away. He is a bit of a messy cook, but I don’t mind. It’s odd, though, seeing this big 6’4″ tall, 290 lb. man, cooking up a storm and creating delicious things his mother cooked – like crab salad, and candied yams (delicious), and various southern dishes (his mom was from the south). Being a Canadian I have never tasted most of these dishes.

We do go out to eat a lot, even though our small town only has four viable restaurants. However, due to finances, we are cutting down a bit, and I am doing more of the cooking as his work picks up. I bear in mind his adage that food tastes better when it’s cooked with love.

nrhatch - March 31, 2011

Glad that you and your husband have a division of labor that works for you both ~ playing to each others strengths.

I used to do virtually all the meal planning and preparation and BFF handled the clean up. But more and more, he plans the meals and cooks them which is a delight.

27. Tammy McLeod - April 3, 2011

You have to know that I would love this post! It speaks to all of those things that I love about eating in. Our habits actually started when my husband was traveling a great deal and I couldn’t stand to drag him to a restaurant after a week out. I may have to hitchhike this post in the future Nancy.

nrhatch - April 3, 2011

Hitchhike away, Tammy.

Eating local, sustainably grown produce at home is good for us and good for the planet. 😀

28. Patty - April 7, 2011

amen to all of that sista. I eat out very little any more. It costs too much and if I drink too much I just have to trip up the stairs to bed

nrhatch - April 7, 2011

Thanks, Patty. Enjoy!

29. crumbl - August 22, 2011

Not that I disagree with your reasons for dining in, by the same token, my reasons may vary a little. Agree totally that a lot of dishes, I can make at home for less, and do a better job … there are better chefs out there to be sure, and we treat ourselves from time to time, but …

I don’t have a problem with anchovies, eggplant or mushrooms … in fact, I like them all, so our paths diverge.

No waiting or noise pollution … you get my vote, chica. LRHG is the people person … I’m lucky I can stand my own company, much less other peoples’.

Seen some pretty scary things at restaurants, so I can dig it.

I think your environmental argument is a bit of a wash … you still have to go out and shop, and last I looked, there’s still some packaging involved, so …

I’d rather dine in, too … candlelight, fresh flowers, nice bottle of wine, music to dance to (the neighbours all think we’re nuts when we dance on the balcony … I care what they think?), we can do things in our own time, eat on our own schedule, have fun working together in the kitchen. Instead of a meal, it’s an event.

nrhatch - August 22, 2011

We like going out . . . once in a while.

But if I had to choose between eating home every day of the month, or eating out every day of the month . . . HOME would win, hands down!

{{Sometimes I even have dinner in my pj’s ~ which would NOT be appropriate when dining out.}}

Glad that you and LRHG enjoy dancing like no one’s watching (even if they are). 😀

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