Dangerous Norms: When a Treat Becomes a Routine Matter

The Big Top Restaurant by pixeljones on Flickr! When I was young, going out to eat at a restaurant was a rare treat, something to anticipate and savor. About twice a year, we would go to an elegant buffet restaurant called Johnny's Supper Club in a nearby town. I looked forward to eating at Johnny's for days in advance, plotting all the different delicious foods I would eat. I would even skip lunch on those days so I could eat more at the buffet.

But at some point, the treat of dining out became a matter of routine. When I got married in 2003, my wife and I settled into the habit of eating out for almost every meal. Soon, spending $20 on a meal at a restaurant became the norm. There was no joy in this process — it was simply the way we did things, for better or worse.

Later, I began to appreciate cooking at home, particularly when we moved into a larger house with a decent kitchen. We started preparing a lot of food at home, often spending only a few dollars to feed our family of four. After a while, this became the norm — it was normal to spend just a few dollars on a family meal, prepared in our kitchen and served on our dining room table.

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