I have read more than my share of financial advice. And amid other important factors such as “earn more money” or “invest that money” is the all-important “spend less money.” In these past several lean years, I’ve gotten pretty good at cutting back costs and expenses. But one thing I can’t seem to quit is going out to eat.
It probably doesn’t help that I live in New York, a city that overflows with great restaurants of every cuisine imaginable. It also doesn’t help that my tiny NYC apartment kitchen has little space to store lots of groceries. Nor that I, as a carless individual, have to carry all my groceries home on the 10-minute walk to my apartment, rain or shine. Basically, this is a city that entices me at every turn to just give in, and go out.
When I walk by a restaurant, even if it’s mostly empty or the food they serve is not my favorite, I look at the diners inside with a touch of envy, particularly if they’re sitting at the table with their drinks but no menus. Oooh, I think, they’ve already ordered. They’re just waiting for their delicious meal to arrive. (Yeah, I guess that’s a little creepy.) And isn’t that what makes going out to eat so enjoyable? The luxurious, almost magical way that food just seems to appear in front of you, simply because you asked for it?
Don’t get me wrong; I like cooking. I’ve shared some of my favorite recipes and cooking philosophies right here on Persephone. But when you cook a meal, you’re very aware of each step of the process, from making your grocery list to picking out the right ingredients, then preparing them to perfection (making a mess of your kitchen in the process). This is part of what’s so great about cooking, but it’s also what makes it such a relief to take a break now and then.
I almost never go on vacation. I’ve trimmed my monthly bills to the bare minimum. I bargain hunt and reuse what I have until it’s worn out (and sometimes even beyond). But while I’ve been able to cut back a bit on my “restaurant budget,” it’s the one luxury I have not been able to let go of. And I don’t think I ever will.
Everyone has a treat they give themselves which is as much about the mental enjoyment as it is about the physical. Despite all the other things I’ve cut back on, or cut out, eating out is the one thing that I think I would honestly feel deprived to have to do without. I just like experiencing new food, especially the kinds of dishes I couldn’t make myself, I like the social aspect of a group meal at a lively restaurant, and I even like warming up the leftovers the next day.
I can’t imagine I’m the only one. Is food your favorite indulgence? If not, what’s the one thing you can’t seem to bring yourself to cut back on.