This is truly an obnoxious whine. See, back when we lived in places with amazing food options we had no money. Now that we have money…
I live in a small college town that has had some recent growth. Usually in the summer a number of college student places go out of business and a number of new places move in to replace them.
This year instead of getting interesting new places, we’ve been getting places that are either literally or essentially duplicates of places we already have. We do not need yet another cheap wood-fired pizza place in town, yet this summer we got three of them. We do not need another crappy Thai place, but this summer a couple sprang up. (These things seem to go in cycles– when I got here we had a bunch of great Vietnamese places and the one Thai place in town had gone out of business the year before– now all the Vietnamese places have been replaced with sushi of varying quality and we have an overabundance of mediocre Thai.) We even got a second really mediocre poke place (I did not realize mediocre poke existed until we had some in our town– I think it’s just not the right demographics to support a decent poke place… students prefer cheap), though I suspect that now there are two they will both go out of business.
So what’s left are places that are so meh that we don’t particularly want to go there again, or good places that we’re kind of sick of. (In the case of super fancy restaurants, only I have had the chance to have gotten sick of their menus– I was on two search committees last year and really do not need to go to the fancy restaurants in town again any time soon. Even these are kind of repetitive in terms of menu options.)
The way work is for both of us this year, we have a lot of disposable income, but less time than usual. It would be nice to have a list of places we wanted to try or places that we like but aren’t tired of. But we don’t. So we waste time trying to figure out where to eat and finally decide we might as well just make something instead.
Now, our kids would be perfectly happy if we went to the burger place once a week and our favorite pizza place once a week and the hand pulled noodle place once a week and pei wei (never mind—pei wei just shut down) once a week and so on. But DH and I have just gotten bored of their limited menus, along with those at our favorite Chinese place and our favorite Indian place. Over the eight years or so that we’ve had an Indian place in town, we’ve literally tried everything on the menu, most multiple times (particularly when I was pregnant with DC2 and couldn’t eat wheat). (To be completely truthful, I suspect our kids would be happy with macaroni and cheese with tuna and peas, spaghetti with meat sauce, and grilled cheese each once a week… I don’t know what we would do for the other meals.)
It’s so easy to find new exciting things to try when we go into the city. Heck, there are fun things at the grocery store to try in the city. But it seems like if we want new things to try here we’re going to have to keep making them ourselves. And that takes time.
The box delivery services remove the part of cooking that I like (picking out food) and keep the time consuming parts (chopping). And, with the exception of purple carrot, the recipes seem pretty pedestrian. Plus there’s all that plastic. And the per-person cost for most places is more expensive than take-out. (Of course, we’re tired of local take-out…)
My sister suggested getting a personal chef, but that seems expensive (most don’t post their prices online, but the ones who do it looks like ~$80/meal for four people, and their suggested menus are BORING). Plus I really don’t want the kind where someone comes to your house because I don’t want people in my house when I need to work or relax. Moving to the city and commuting to work on week days also seems less of a good idea than going the other direction on weekends. But when weekends come, there’s so many chores at home that going to the city just to eat out seems like maybe not a great idea.
So I guess we’ll keep cooking, going through new recipes in cookbooks and Cook’s Country magazine. And we’ll spend a good portion of each weekend on fancy recipes. And the kids will complain half the week that they don’t like whatever we’ve made and will thank us fervently the other half. DC1 had been starting to cook more this summer, but zie has way too much homework during the school year. Since we remodeled the kitchen and got a new stovetop, DC2 is no longer tall enough to safely use the stove. So it’s on us.
What do you do about food when you have more money than time? Would you ever get tired of your local restaurant options?