Monday, March 24, 2008

Food finances reach a boiling point

If there was ever a sign that the economy -- especially the consumer portion of it -- was in a tailspin, it's this news reported earlier this week: More Americans ate food at or from home in 2006 than in any year since 2001. While that may not seem like a significant timespan, keep in mind that this comes in the midst of the agribusiness and restaurant industry declaring The Death Knell for home-prepared food.

I've always been a proponent that numbers fueling the "eating out craze" have been hopped up a bit by the industry. More money may be being spent at restaurants, but I've always wondered if that spike was due to more meals being bought by the same groups of people who were the first to kick home-cooked food to the curb. Most of my friends, church colleagues, their friends, classmates' parents, eat almost every meal at home. Most take their lunch to work, and I've always wondered who these legion of dine-out moguls were. Now, it seems, even die-hard drive-thru junkies are starting to rediscover their refrigerators.

While this is bad news for our restaurant brethren, it means more people have the chance to cook some good food for the people they love. It can also be your part to reverse the trends, habits and ailments exposed through the documentary, Fast Food Nation.
Cooking at home doesn't have to be hard. It doesn't have to take a long time. That's where soup, salads and sandwiches come in handy. And if you don't have a Crock-pot... get one.

The financial savings of eating food at (or from) home cannot be debated. Even a fast-food combo meal is going to run $6 for an adult, by the time tax is included. Those "value" menu items And don't forget gas burned idling at the drive-thru. Just two adult wage-earners eating lunch out every day will drop $70 a week in fast-food lunches. If they then buy take-out for their families for dinner.... that can run up to $20 per night, if you pick a cheap fast-food joint.

Those numbers do not add up. They never have. Apparently, a flagging economy is starting to show Americans that truth in harsh reality.