Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching and I recently read an article in the Oregonian about restaurants preparing for the biggest day of the year for dining out. The idea of a crowded restaurant on Valentine’s Day has never appealed to me and I haven’t done it in years, but they go out in droves year after year. This year my wonderful husband is going to be making me dinner, something he has not done in the almost 10 years we’ve been together. I would encourage you to avoid the crowds this year in favor of a romantic evening in. There are several good reasons to eat in on all days of the year, aside from avoiding crowds to save your sanity. I have compiled a list of what I consider to be the top 5 reasons to cook at home.
1. Save money. Sure, it’s super easy to sit down in a restaurant and let others bring food to you, but your favorite $20 dish only costs the restaurant about $6 in food and labor. Eating in keeps that money in your pocket. (most restaurants operate at about 30% cost — prices are typically higher for special days like Valentine’s or Mother’s Day)
2. Portion control. Restaurant portions can be 2 or more times what you should be eating in any one meal and the “clean your plate” mentality that has stuck with us since childhood means we’re much more likely to overeat while dining out.
3. Leftovers. For less than the price of one meal out, you can get several meals from just one night of cooking. Portion leftovers into microwavable containers for an easy lunch the next day.
4. You know what’s in your food. Restaurants often cook with high amounts of fat, sugar, and salt, more than you’d use in your own kitchen. When you cook at home you know what you’re eating and you can prepare it to your diet specifications.
5. Supporting local food systems. Ties in with #4, you know what it is and where it’s from.