I had an interesting moment of clarity about the true value of restaurant meals when I recently went through a pile of credit card receipts from a year ago. In that pile were receipts from fifteen or so restaurants we had been to in mid-2008.
These dinners were from barely a year ago, and yet I hardly remembered any of them. Heck, I couldn't even remember the names of some of the restaurants, much less what kind of food they served. And yet the aggregate cost of these culinary experiences was hundreds and hundreds of dollars.
You'd think after spending all that money I'd remember more of these experiences, but sadly, I don't. The ones that really stuck in my mind boiled down to a couple of really fancy restaurant meals we had, Laura's 40th birthday dinner, and the spectacular all-you-can-eat ribs we had last fall during our visit to Belgium. That's three or four restaurant meals--out of fifteen.
In complete contrast, I remember nearly every dinner party I've hosted at our home, going back many years. Those dinners were all truly salient and meaningful experiences, full of fun conversations, good eating (well, I did make the food after all!) and good times with friends. And yet the entire cost of all the food--for everyone--for a dinner in our home was usually far less than what Laura and I would end up spending on just ourselves for the average forgettable restaurant meal in this forgotten pile of receipts.
Readers, get ready, because here's the punchline of this article: you will completely forget most of your restaurant meals, making them an utter waste of money. Only a select few of your dinners out--the ones with particularly special circumstances--will stick in your mind.
Moreoever, you'll get more value from your experiences by going out to eat only for really, really important occasions. Otherwise eat at home. And host lots of dinner parties. You'll spend a lot less money, and you'll probably keep more meaningful and salient memories.
What is the point of spending extra money on an experience if the odds are you'll end up forgetting all about it?
Readers, what do you think about the value of forgotten experiences?
The Dinner Party: 10 Tips to Make Cooking for Company Fun and Easy
Doing Your Favorite Thing: How to Spend Exactly the Right Amount of Money For an Important Celebration
A Recession-Proof Guide to Saving Money on Food
A Simple Way to Beat Rising Food Prices
How can I support Casual Kitchen?
If you enjoy reading Casual Kitchen, tell a friend and spread the word! You can also support me by purchasing items from Amazon.com via links on this site, or by linking to me or subscribing to my RSS feed. Finally, you can consider submitting this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to bookmarking sites like del.icio.us, digg or stumbleupon. Thank you for your support!