When I was a kid we rarely ate out in a restaurant. None of my friends' families did much, either. Eating out was something you did as a special occasion, for a birthday or anniversary, or when out-of-town relatives came to visit.
My daughter, on the other hand, has been to a whole lot of restaurants in her eight-year-old life. And the frequency has increased since we moved down here with Grandma. If my mother had her way, we'd eat out, every day; some days more than once. During the school year I can usually keep these forays limited to weekends-only, although I must admit that one weekday is usually a take-out night to spare me from making dinner.
This summer I have had to take us all out to eat almost every day, mostly so that Mom gets an outing. The kid doesn't really seem to care if we eat out or not. She's a grazer by nature, so is happy nibbling through the day. Of the places we go she prefers buffet-styled restaurants, which play into her grazing nature, as opposed to having to settle for one thing off a menu that never seems to have what she wants.
I am starting to hate eating out. Not only is it costly (and fattening), but with my tummy troubles and new ventures into a more vegetable-based diet, it is difficult to find something good to eat. I was shocked when we visited a local Chilis recently. There was practically nothing on the menu for someone who isn't eating beef, poultry, or pork. They didn't even have a veggie chili. I ended up getting the soup/salad combo, but had to ask that they hold the bacon on their "loaded potato" soup. The other soup offered was chicken tortilla. When the soup appeared, it was basically melted cheese with a few pieces of potato in it. Yum? After checking out their website, it appears they have a vegetarian version of their menu. Chili's suggests that when a customer sees meat on the menu, to substitute black beans. Or there's always their dessert choices. Sigh.
Actually I think the kid is onto something with her buffet proclivities. At least at a buffet there are always soups and salads, and invariably one of the soups is meat-free. And if I want to skip the carving station, I can just attack the sides — potatoes, vegetables, pasta, etc. I am just going to have to start weaning us from the daily food-related outings as the summer begins to wane next month. Maybe feed them at home and then still go out and do something — a movie, the library, shopping, etc., so that mom gets to get out of the house for a while. Life is always a balancing act.