Readers of this blog already know that more Americans are carrying flasks around than they are embarrassing themselves at expensive bars. You may have also noticed this little thingamajig called Groupon, LivingSocial, or any of its less famous stepsisters that never make you want to leave the house unless it’s for 50% off the nearest restaurant. Combine these two social phenomena and sooner or later you have a trend piece about more people cooking in than dining out. Let’s break down the SHOCKING reasons why.
1) People are becoming caveman again and finding pleasure in foraging for food.
Forced to eat more meals at home when money was tight, people learned new habits. Some discovered they enjoy cooking and dining in. As the economy improves and families have more spending money, they’re still saving restaurants for special occasions.
2) This way, almost all human interaction can be avoided.
“People are becoming not only accustomed to eating at home, they’re enjoying it,” says Darren Tristano, executive vice president of restaurant consulting firm Technomic Inc. “They can sit in front of their 50-inch flat-screens and not have to tip a waiter.”
3) You magically shed pounds without starving yourself.
President of her own marketing agency in Raleigh, N.C., Beverly Murray, 46, never thought she’d have time to cook. But in 2008, her business tanked. Suddenly dropping $10 or $20 on every meal was not an option. So she got to know her stove. [...] Having lost 30 pounds as a pleasant consequence of cooking at home, she is sticking to the new routine, even as business picks up.
4) Poor is the new cool.
Meanwhile, cooking has become hip, says Rick Smilow, president of the Institute for Culinary Education, where registration for recreational courses was up 10 percent last year.
Of course, while this is great for those of us who don’t have to resort to eating pasta every night, this totally sucks for the restaurant industry.
Restaurants traditionally have led other types of businesses out of a recession. This time, they’re at least a year and a half behind retailers. Sales of clothing grew 5 percent last year and autos rose 11 percent, as Americans started feeling better about their finances. [...] Discounting is not sustainable in an industry with 3 percent profit margins. If the costs of food and utilities rise, that could kill restaurants that are just hanging on, says Deborah Dowdell, president of the New Jersey Restaurant Association.