“May I take your order?” asks the distorted voice through the intercom. “Yeah, I’ll take a double cheeseburger, an extra large order of fries, and a coke,” comes the response from the man hanging out his car window. “Six seventy-five at the window please. Thank you!” replies the voice. “Wow,” the man thinks to himself. “Prices have really gone up. Oh well, at least I don’t have to pack a lunch every day.” In today’s world, many people prefer to go out to breakfast, lunch, or dinner than to cook. Some claim they do not have the time to cook; others claim they are no good at cooking. Either way, American society has a strong dependence on fast food and takeout, which can be very expensive.
My former Art History teacher, Sue Linn, lives in this culture of fast food and takeout for every meal. She admits that she has not cooked in several years and that she and her husband, Tim, eat all of their meals at restaurants. Sue starts her day at Starbucks, where she knows the employees well and they have her coffee and pastry waiting for her when she arrives. Most days she is late and does not have time to pay, so they charge the balance to an account that she pays at the end of the week. When noon rolls around, Sue and her assistant go out to lunch. After teaching all day, Sue then goes to coach the girl’s tennis team at the local community college. Once practice ends at five o’clock, she and Tim go out to dinner, where they often split an entrée to conserve cash. Day after day, Sue continues this cycle of buying breakfast, lunch, and dinner from a restaurant instead of taking the time to cook a meal on her own.
Sue is one example of someone who eats fast food frequently, but many Americans follow this same trend. According to the National Restaurant Association, the restaurant business is a $537 billion a year industry and comprises four percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (Restaurant.org). An estimated 57% of consumers would use delivery to a home or office if table service restaurants offered it (Restaurant.org). Also, four out of five consumers agree that going out to a restaurant is a better use of time than cooking a meal and cleaning up (Restaurant.org). In 2005, the average household expenditure of food away from home was $2,634, or $1,054 per individual (Restaurant.org). According to this information, the American people have an unhealthy dependence on the restaurant industry and do not eat at home enough. While many people claim cooking to be an inconvenience and a waste of time, it is not difficult to make a simple breakfast and pack a sack lunch before going to work in the morning. My dad, a busy workingman, makes his own breakfast every morning. He cooks a vegetable omelette, which takes him about five minutes. Also, my mom packs a lunch for my dad and herself everyday, which consists of a Lean Cuisine meal, a piece of fruit, and chips. This process takes her about five minutes as well. Americans should put these concepts into practice and take the extra ten minutes in the morning to cook breakfast and pack a lunch, which can help save money and cut down on fast food consumption. Dinners are not complicated to make either. My mom, a workingwoman, cooks dinner five to six nights a week. Often, she prepares as much of the meal in the morning as she can and lets it set during the day. Once she gets home from work, she prepares the rest of the meal and it takes her, on average, about one hour to complete a wonderful dinner. If everyone in the household helps with the clean up, it can take about twenty minutes or so to finish. Even though eating out is enjoyable, Americans rely too much on the restaurant industry for their everyday meals.
The restaurant industry makes up a large portion of the U.S. economy. Food sales are projected to increase five percent this year from last year, which shows that Americans are starting to eat out more often. Instead of having Starbucks for breakfast, McDonald’s for lunch, and Coco’s takeout for dinner, Americans should venture into their kitchens, pull out some pots and pans, and cook a meal on their own.
Restaurant.org. 2007. National Restaurant Association. 25 February 2007.