In a prior post, I wrote that the typical American eats out about 18 times per month.
I had been thinking about that for a while, in consideration of the fact that Americans are low on savings, and as a reason why my own family typically has as much or more money leaving our checking account many months than coming in.
Upon reviewing last month’s bank statement, I found it amazing how many charges were made at eating and drinking establishments. My wife and I also both made several credit card purchases that did not appear on our bank statement, and a few that were paid for in cash.
Contributing to that rather high number was eight meals in a row that I ate in Mad-City while attending a job-related conference including two straight breakfasts at McDonald’s, lunch one day at Qdoba and at Chipotle another, and dinner at a brew pub one night and a bar and grill on Capital Square the next.
Most of the month’s food charges read like attendees at an ICSC conference, an organization that I am a long-time member of, where I go to meet with developers and businesses in an effort to recruit them to the community that employs me in an economic development capacity. Over the course of the month and the thirty-three charges totaling just under $500, we ate at Steak n’ Shake, Jamba Juice, Noodles & Company, Qdoba, Chipotle, McDonald’s several times, Subway, Wendy’s, Jersey Mike’s several times, Panera, Panda Express, Starbucks, Oberweis Dairy and several stops at Dairy Queen.
Local places included Chicago area favorite Portillo’s, a crepe place, a new Jewish street food place called BenJYehuda, our local doughnut purveyor three times, our favorite Italian beef spot, an Argentinian restaurant where we purchase empanadas and a local Chinese place.
Of course, not all four of us ate out together at every meal eaten outside of our home. As a matter of fact, in the thirty-three receipts that I could find, the four of us only ate out together twice, once being the most expensive receipt of all at $90, including a $20 tip, at a local sports bar where we went with many other families after our daughter’s eighth grade graduation. The other was at our local taqueria, where we purchased a variety of steak tacos made to order for the four of us, totaling about $24.
The cheapest receipt in the collection was my wife’s Panera receipt for $4.03, where she met a few of her friends for a Ladies Night Out and enjoyed a drink and a muffin with a dollar or two off due to her loyalty card.
That is how those thirty-three receipts totaled about $485 which, when you think about it, is not so bad for a busy suburban family of four.
Three out of the four of us ate at Bonefish Grill one night when my mother took us out. Our daughter, who has a busy social life, was out at one of her friends’ houses. I did not pay for that meal, but the sumptuous meal and desserts for the four of us totaled about $120, so it was a great meal out and did not cost me a dime.
If I learned anything at all from it, it is that we truly favor quick casual eateries, and that the four of us should really eat out together more often.
Today being June 10th, I can vouch that we have continued at roughly the same pace as last month, having picked up meals or eaten out about ten times already this month. I am not qualifying it as good or bad, just stating a fact.
Most of all, looking over the list of receipts that I wrote in my idea notebook, it really makes me want to get doughnuts.