Sunday, July 23, 2017

Most Expensive Meal of my Life

How much would you pay for a meal?

Yesterday, my wife came to me and said that her cousin who lives 12 hours away from us will be stationed at port just 35 minutes from our house for the weekend.  As such, time off the ship is few and far between and my wife really wanted to see her.

So we settled on breakfast.  The perfect comprise of spending as much time with her cousin as possible and what I thought would be a cheap meal.  I mean, come on, its breakfast after all...

So this morning, we drove the 20 miles to the restaurant, paid $4 for parking, $3 in tolls each way and met her cousin at the restaurant. 

All morning I had been craving an omelette.  As we waited for the tables to clear, I browsed the menu, came to the omelette section, and can you believe they wanted $17 ...  you heard it...   SEVENTEEN dollars for some eggs and vegetables.  This omelette contained no meat, was not served with sides and stalking other customers plates I could tell there was no more than three eggs to make it with. 

At the grocery store, you can get a dozen eggs for $1.  I can get tomatoes and green peppers from my garden and all the other ingredients in large quantities for very cheap.  Did I mention that this was the cheapest option of all the omelettes? 

That's right, you want sausage in that omelette - $22.  You want bacon - $21.  You want a side of home fries - $4.50. 

This entire meal could have been bought at the store and made for probably less than two dollars. 

So instead, I settled on the cheapest meal offered.  Two eggs, Two slices of meat, Two Pancakes....

THIRTEEN Dollars!!!


Now, I had a great time.  The happiness on my wife's face.  The happiness on her cousin's face.  The conversation that was had.  All these will stay with us much longer than eggs and bread for $13.

But the whole time I ate, I couldn't help but think about how insane these prices were.  The even crazier part was just how many people were there eating as well.  The wait time was 45 minutes!

So this got me thinking on the way home about what the most expensive meal of my life ever was.  And this one ranked up there, especially in terms of breakfast.  All told, driving, tolls, parking, breakfast for my wife and I plus tip added up to a grand total of...


If you make $25 per hour, an average wage for most Americans, you will have to wasted 3.4 hours of your life working to pay for one meal.  Accounting for taxes/etc. and make your take home pay $16.25 and the average American wastes 5.23 hours slaving away to pay for one meal. 

Is some eggs and bread worth 5.23 hours of your life?

But like I said, this was not the worst meal I have ever paid for/had in my life.  Things get worse.

The worst meal I have ever paid for were two Filet Mignon's and accompanying sides.  The occasion was once in a lifetime and I have no regrets.  My wife passed her clinical social work licensing test and received a $20,000 pay raise. 

The meal cost a total of $225.  Holy shit.  That's rough to type.  But, like I said, a once in a lifetime meal for a once in a lifetime occasion and $20,000 pay raise helped ease the burden.

Now, using the average American take home pay of $16.25 per hour, that fancy dinner of ours cost us 13.84 hours of our lives.  Essentially, my wife and I each had to work an entire day of our lives paying for one dinner.  Was it worth it?  Yes!  Will we do it again, No.

But finally what you all have been waiting for...

A common birthday present I think for most households is to go out to eat for the occasion.  I mean, why not, this was the day you were born.  The day you first graced the world with your presence.  You are worth every penny!  Or are you...  

How does that one meal a year affect your net worth?  Lets find out.

My girlfriend in high school loved a restaurant called the Melting Pot.  For those readers who do not know what its all about, here is a quote from her dad: 

"Your telling me we are going to that place again where I have to cook my own food, it costs an arm and a leg and afterwards I'm left wanting to order pizza for carryout?" 

Yea, that's the place!  Every year, the same thing.

Basically, their family would order the 4 course option, and everything is cooked in a fondue pot.  First course; salads, second course; melted cheese, third course; meat and vegetables, fourth course; melted chocolate/dessert.

You put all the food on your skewers and cook it in the fondue pot.  You cover the food in cheese or chocolate to your desire and indulge.  You put the meat in the steaming spice filled water and cook it to temperature. 

And did I mention this meal usually takes 3 - 4 hours?  Yea, insane!

Now, I have never paid for one of these meals.  Her parents would pay for this meal as her present for turning one year older.  And how much does this 3 - 4 hours of food bliss that leaves you just as hungry as when you arrived?

A typical bill (6 people - 2 parents, girlfriend/me, sister/boyfriend) costs $400.  Holy shit again.

Now you tell me if that is worth it?

Hell No!  I get that your birthday only comes once a year and if you were not born, this day would be meaningless to your family but, the same conversation can be had around that delivery pizza in front of your TV or at a park enjoying the outdoors.  

This $400 would cost the average American 24.61 hours. Let that sink in.  Four hours eating cost you three, eight hour days of working.  THREE days!

What could you accomplish in three days?  Poof, gone, all for a dinner.

Going out to dinner at this restaurant for 10 years (age 15 - 25) and you spent 250 hours working, or 31 days, A WHOLE MONTH of your life for 10 meals.

Sadly, this is the way for many Americans. 

This morning as I sat eating breakfast with my wife's cousin who she has not seen for two years, there were handfuls of 20 something year old kids piling through the doors after a late night of drinking.  Gobbling down mounds of greasy food to ease the pain of hangovers, not realizing that the biggest hangover is the one their bank account will see when the bill comes due.

If those same 20 year old's are going out to breakfast every weekend to nurse hangovers, the $25 a meal will add up to $100 a month.  $1200 a year!

I cannot assume that all of these kids will be eating breakfast every weekend but the sheer number of them means that it must happen often enough.

I feel sorry for these individuals.  The same meal that they received this morning can be had for just $2 at home.  Saving $23 a week or $92 a month, $1,104 per year.

I don't claim to be perfect.  Clearly I have spent my fair share on meals in my day. 

But being aware of what this costs you in work hours might just change your mind when deciding to order between the Omelette or the Pancakes. 

I know my life is more valuable then some over priced eggs and bread.  Yours should be too.

So the next time you head out for breakfast, get the cheap pancakes.  When your kids want to have a birthday dinner, make them something nice and head to the park.  Time and conversations with the ones you love are far more important than those fancy meals.


What was the most expensive meal you have ever paid for?  Would you do it again?  What was the occasion? 


  1. ADD -

    Damn... hurt to read some of this because there are SO MANY different occasions where this has happened in my life - $60-$100 later and you are wondering - what the F* just happened. So many hours and wasted dollars, down the fricken drain. I'm with you - enjoy the time at home, make something fun - heck make a pizza with everyone and just chat with a nice little bottle of wine. Come to think of it - there's a birthday dinner that my friend is having and it is at a restaurant on Friday... I hope my girlfriend and I decide to split a plate, that's for sure.


  2. ADD,

    I have to echo Lanny's post up there, so many different times. First one that comes to mind was my first anniversary dinner. My wife and I went out to the usual "farm to face - topped with some fake sounding sauce roasted for 9 hours by some dude manually turning a spit" place. Food was good, but afterwards my mind raced to the conclusion that a simple quesadilla would have sufficed. Anyways, at least we only walked there from our house, and it did not break $110.

    - Gremlin

  3. ADD,
    This is quite coincidental. I found myself spending more and wrote on my blog about the same, and the need to monitor my spending habits. Although to my defense, I had been spending as much for myself, and the food was worth while.
    For your article, I cannot agree more. People think "they deserve it" because they worked hard on that day or such reasons. The primary reason for financial freedom that I believe in, is spend if you must. Fancy restaurants may help you make a statement to your friends, but its for a lost cause in the long run.