Has Eating Replaced Shopping as A Form of Entertainment?

More people are choosing experiences over things. This shift from “consumers” of stuff to livers of life is a welcome one. Experiences are arguably better for our wellbeing and for our planet. But often those experiences center around going out to eat. Replacing shopping with eating as entertainment comes with its own costs, both financial and to our health.

Our Food Finances Friday features usually center around saving money on groceries or easy, low-cost recipes. Today we tackle the current trend of spending money on stuff rather than spending money on food.

Eating as Entertainment

Whether I am going out with friends, or having a mommy-daughter day with my kid, or meeting up with family to celebrate a birthday or other milestone, the question is the same: “Where do you want to go?” And what we mean is where do you want to eat.

Back when my parents were growing up, dining out was a rarity. Even on birthdays, families would eat at home. As lives got busier and convenience was given priority over health, casual dining establishments grew in popularity.

Nowadays, if it’s someone’s birthday, we go out to eat. When we’re meeting up with friends, we go out to eat. If it’s a Saturday, we go out to eat. No matter the occasion, we go out to eat.

Even schools hold fundraisers at local fast food restaurants and reward academic achievements with coupons for a personal pizza or free taco.

Going out to eat has replaced going to the mall as a form of entertainment. These days people are taking pictures of their food and posting it on social media. Yes, we all need to eat. But it shouldn’t be a primary source of amusement.

“food is meant to nourish. . . I don’t turn to food to entertain me”

The Minimalists

Is Dining Out Really The Best We Can Do For Fun?

I love dining out. But it’s not an ideal place to go for quality time with friends. Many restaurants are filled with distractions that make conversation difficult, such as televisions or loud music. Plus, being in a place a business, staff want to “turn the tables” to make more money. As a result, you are offered a to-go box soon after your meal arrives.

When I’m getting together with friends or family, I don’t want to feel rushed out the door. I’d also rather we did something fun, and go someplace where we can be more free.

Related article: My Month of Eating Junk: Is Fast Food Really Cheaper?

More Meaningful Experiences

Rarely are my most meaningful experiences related back to a restaurant. Some of my best times with friends are of us hanging out at their houses. Exciting memories are usually from exploring someplace new, even it it’s in my own city. So, I’ve started thinking about things we can do with family and friends instead of going to a restaurant.

Photo by Luke Porter on Unsplash – my adult friends actually did this (before lighting the bon-fire, of course)
Ideas for Experiences Other Than Dining Out
  1. Lighting up a fire pit
  2. Hanging out by the pool or splashpad
  3. Turning a tarp into a slip-and-slide
  4. Meeting up at the beach or lake
  5. Having a picnic or cookout
  6. Taking your kids to the playground
  7. Renting kayaks or canoes
  8. Taking your pets to the dog park
  9. Going hiking
  10. Walking or jogging together
  11. Playing racquetball, tennis, basketball, volleyball, or frisbee
  12. Having friends over for a viewing party of your favorite show
  13. Doing Yoga or Tai Chi together
  14. Attending local festivals
  15. Having nerf or laser tag battles
  16. Taking a painting, ceramics, or cooking class together
  17. Playing board or card games
  18. Fishing
  19. Bowling
  20. Golfing
  21. Skydiving (indoors or outdoors jumping from planes)
  22. Climbing rocks (or rock walls)
  23. Attending concerts
  24. Having a spa day
  25. Meeting up at a Farmers Market
  26. Going to a zoo, museum, aquarium, or amusement park
  27. Riding bicycles (or motorcycles)
  28. Exploring local parks or historical landmarks
Photo by Kimson Doan on Unsplash

Putting This Idea Into Practice

Every day I meet up with a dear friend for lunch. But we don’t eat, we go for a walk.

Whenever my bestie visits, we laugh our butts off just sitting on my couch talking. Sometimes we watch a show or a movie.

This mother’s day, rather than going out for breakfast we ran a 5K race.

My last family get-together was a really fun day at the beach.

A day with my husband’s best friend means lighting a bonfire.

When a friend asked about getting together with the kids, we went to the farmer’s market.

For the next mommy-daughter day, I took a day off work so that I can take my daughter to gymnastics then play with her on the playground.

Next week we are planning a trip to an amusement park. And we plan to pack our own lunches and snacks. Nutritious and delicious food will be for our fuel; we will not be eating as entertainment.

Related article: The Year of Free Entertainment Experiment

Final Thoughts

Next time you plan to get together with friends or family, consider suggesting something other than going out to eat. You may be able to save money and create lasting memories by doing something more meaningful than going to a restaurant. Like shopping, eating should be something we do to meet our needs. There are so many better ways to have fun.


How often do you find yourself using eating as entertainment?


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