A recent open letter from the National Restaurant Association in Nation's Restaurant News seeks to rally the industry around a proposed campaign to "debate the notions currently going unchallenged in the public forum" - notions suggesting consumers can save significant sums by eating at home.
While it's true that the mass media - TV, talk show hosts, etc. - has promoted this theory, it's not clear how well their message has resonated with consumers. According to NRA, research shows that it has struck a chord and that's not unsurprising - it's been the kind of year that virtually everyone has felt crimped economically to some extent.
That being said, we believe that there are many, still, for whom dining out is a way of life- they have not learned to cook, don't have time, and many simply don't have the inclination, regardless of the impact of "Julie and Julia."
I love to cook, but also love to eat out. In the three years since my partner's death (he cooked for us for many years), I have had countless cuts, burns and bumps on the head from walking into open cupboard doors. I could be the poster girl for "cooking at home is hazardous to your health!"
The industry needs to find a way - either through a major campaign or simply through individual restaurants conveying the value of their services to their customers - to make its message heard, loud and clear.
There is nothing that beats the convenience of a well-made meal, and sometimes, it's cheaper than buying all the ingredients needed to make it yourself. The industry needs to let consumers know that it's okay to go out, enjoy the experience, and come home well fed and relaxed.