Dining Out Ain’t What It Used To Be.

Have you eaten out lately in one of your old, famous, long-time customer restaurants? Have you noticed anything different or new? As in the food just doesn’t taste the same? The quality doesn’t seem to be there either? And the wait staff just isn’t doing it for you anymore? If you can get through their nasty attitudes.

I’ve stopped eating out in my favorite restaurants about a year ago. Mainly because of the prices. I could no longer afford the extravagant bills for the ever-shrinking quantity. Second, the quality of the food deteriorated. Lastly, the service was horrible, sporadic and just plain nasty.

Apparently, I am not alone. There has been a downward trend in the restaurant world as more and more people have come to the same conclusions I have: it’s better to make your own meals and eat at home.  This CNBC report outlines the conclusions here, in this article.

Despite aggressive promotions (such as coupons), stagnant sales at sit-down restaurants continue to sap overall industry growth. Restaurant visits have been flat this year. “It was said the recession was officially over in 2009, but consumers aren’t behaving that way,” said NPD restaurant analyst Bonnie Riggs, adding that people are practicing caution and control in their spending.

While waiting for her order at a Manhattan McDonald’s, Caraway said higher meal costs drove her to cut her restaurant visits in half beginning in 2012. “I’d rather just cook at home,” the Brooklynite said. “They’ve gotten more expensive and the quality’s gotten worse.

I’ve been baking my own pizzas every Friday night since 1998. I don’t think I could ever eat a commercial restaurant pizza now. My home made, from scratch pizza (including the dough) are just far more superior, healthier and cheaper. Period. Going out to a diner for breakfast can set us back by $30. Really. Thirty dollars could buy me a months’ worth of Sunday breakfasts of fresh squeezed OJ, two eggs any style, bacon, whole wheat toast and two pancakes with organic maple syrup. Do the math!

The last three times DH and I ate out at our once favorite restaurants, we were disappointed at each and every serving. With $70 to $102 price tags to boot! Three times was the charm. Now, if we are famished while out on the road, we pull into the tried-and-true, will-never-fail-you McDonald’s. We order a grilled chicken wrap ($3.99 + tax, with dressing on the side) and have a Senior Discount cup of Paul Newman’s Own organic coffee (.75 + tax) Other than that, we eat at home, brown bag a lunch, take a snack, pack a granola bar and a bottle (refilled at home) of water. We never leave home without our own food anymore.

Full-service casual dining and midscale or family dining spots have continued to struggle this year. The sectors’ names include Cracker Barrel, Denny’s, IHOP and Applebee’s, Olive Garden and Red Lobster, and Chili’s.

The quality, in the above named restaurants, have, in my opinion, declined. You won’t find me eating anything in those places. DH and I always used to eat out in local, neighborhood joints. But even those can’t keep up with the declining economy. Chipotle Mexican Grill and Noodles & Co. have seen an 8% increase in sales but if you can’t prepare your own taco, chili or worse yet, boil up a twenty five cent package of ramen noodles on your own, you don’t know what serious dining out is all about in the first place.

Here’s just a synopsis of the many varied meals DH and I prepare throughout the year:


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16 thoughts on “Dining Out Ain’t What It Used To Be.

    • I’m in the process of writing a cookbook. I was also thinking of doing a video but I have a very strong New York accent. Gotta think about it more.

      Hubby and I cooked all that food. Do it almost daily! Thanks for your comment.

  1. Eating out isn’t in our budget(hey but it’s almost can can time) but I can’t really say we miss it much. The quality of the food at many of the places was declining even before I put a stop to all eating out. Plus I can make almost everything we would have eaten for 1/10 of the cost and still have left overs. In fact the only time we ate out recently was stopping for chick fil a when we went to get my daughter at school and that was only because mom had bogo coupon and we had drinks from home.

    Now I just need to keep all the grocery costs under control and we will be ok. And best thing is that at least all three kids have learned to cook(and use the crockpot)

    • Ah! The crock pot. Greatest invention ever.
      I have just $25 in our budget for dining out. If you want to call it that. DH and I are almost afraid to go to a restaurant for fear the food will be just awful. Pity.
      It’s amazing how much money we can save simply by preparing our meals at home.
      Counting the days till the can-can sale!

  2. We used to eat out and go to the movies at least once a week. We rarely do either anymore. My husband has become an incredible cook. I love to bake and we both appreciate sitting in our big chairs in our movie room ( and putting the movie on pause to get a refill). I took several nephews to dinner when I went home to see my mom. The check was well over $200 and the tip written in was 20%! I then got a bit of talking to by my brother that tips are now 25%! Heck, the waiter didn’t refill our glasses because we were talking too long!

    • OMG, a 25% tip? Outrageous.
      DH and I have become better and better cooks ourselves as the years trudge on. We like to compete against each other to see who is the better cook. Doesn’t matter who wins or loses because either way we always get a great meal! :)
      Thanks for your comment.

  3. Great news with DH! I’m sure things will be back to normal soon.
    Thanks for the link. Why am I not surprised the recipe is from Lidia!!?? I remember the picture you posted several years ago when you met her. I will let you know how it turns out. I even have anchovy paste!


  4. Hi Cindi,
    I bought clams to make clam chowder but that clam linguini looks mighty tasty! I’ve never thought of making it at home. Do you use an online recipe that I can follow? I’m cooking a turkey for my club tonight. Had it butterflied so I can make turkey soup with the back tonight.
    Hope you and DH have a very Merry Christmas. How is he feeling now that the treatment is over?


    • Hi Patti. First hubby was feeling awful when the treatment was over. That went on for a few weeks. Then, all of a sudden, he started feeling terrific! That was a few days ago. So, it’s good news.
      For the clam sauce, I love Lidia! You can catch her cooking shows on PBS. In fact, I just got her new cookbook out of the library.
      Here’s a link to this recipe:
      I made it both ways. 1 with clams in the shell and the other with schucked clams from the fish store. They come by the pint or the quart, in a plastic container (whole or in pieces). I prefer the later cause it’s hard to get those shells free of all sand.
      Here’s a link to her video:

      Bon appetito!
      (people tell me I cook like Lidia, best compliment ever!)

  5. My husband and I have been talking about the decline in taste and service yet the prices keep going up. Had a couple of experiences while on vacation..ordered a burger with a pretzel bun and they brought out my burger on a reg. bun and said “oh they ran out of the pretzel buns..is this ok?” and at a different rest. ordered sliders and was brought out a burger cut into four wedges and they said the same as the other waiter! I seem to remember that if they ran out of something they would come out before cooking and let you know so that you could order something else, not just give you whatever they feel like. I took both meals, not going to send it back while my husbands meal is sitting in front of him and i would have to wait for mine. I should have told them to take some off the bill though for not getting what i ordered…kicking myself now for not doing so…but it wont happen again! Sometimes it feels like they consider us a herd of cattle…getting us to the trough and get out. Oh dear, i could go on and on because it’s not just in restaurants, anywhere there is a service industry…seems like quite a few out there just dont care if they keep your business or not.
    Your meals look delicious especially that turkey and provolone sammie! Will have to give that one a go.

    oh, and the last couple of years we have done the same as yourselves…macadoos or the king if we are out for a quick bite, we get less upset if our meal wasnt up to par that particular day since we didnt have to take a loan out to eat :-)

    have a good night!!!

    • Thanks, Deb. I blame the decline of services on the economy. With profit margins low, fewer and fewer people spending, it takes a toll. I am sure most food service employees make minimum wage and rely on tips, which also must be dwindling. As bizarre as it must seem, we haven’t been let down at a McDonald’s. Their quality seems to still be intact regardless of where the location. Good for them! At least, it’s something.
      I invented that sammie. It was delish. Glad you liked it.
      Thanks for your comment.

    • Rebekah, I got so hungry looking at my own pictures, I had to go and make myself something! LOL. I made fresh chicken salad (hubby had boiled some up for me yesterday), with chopped celery and parsley, slivered almonds and dried cranberries and oodles of mayo. YUM!
      I like my own stuff. Who knew? :)
      Thanks for your comment.

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