A few nights ago, we had dinner with two couples at a fairly expensive restaurant. At first glance, this seemed both unwise – the meal would cost most of our entertainment budget for the month – and contrary to our desire to live simply. But let’s examine this more closely.
Both of us enjoy and appreciate very good food, and this particular restaurant is very good, consistently featured in Where to Eat in Canada. It also serves locally sourced foods, which is important to us. The night was perfect for our patio table, and the company and conversation of our friends delightful. We had a memorable meal – I ate caesar salad, a quail appetizer, and frites, followed by coffee and a whiskey; my husband had quail and pickerel- and the meal and tip came to about $120.00, as we expected.
As we left the restaurant, our friends asked to join us there again in about three weeks. And – this is the important part – I declined, explaining honestly that we can’t afford it that often, which they understood.
But as I have reflected on that meal this week, I realized I declined not just because of the cost, but because I really don’t want to eat like that too often. Not because it was expensive, or we overate (we didn’t), but because it was an experience I want to savour and remember as something exceptional. Treats are not treats if they happen too often. Good food is important, something we take seriously in our meal planning, preparation and shopping, but there is a difference between everyday good food and a very special meal.
Adjustments will be made to this month’s spending to accommodate this meal, money cut from both the entertainment and grocery budgets. We’ve traded a couple of movies at our local art-house cinema and some more-expensive foods and beverages for those few hours on the patio.
But, for us, this meal was a wise choice, because of the quality of time shared with our friends, the immediate appreciation of the food, and the on-going pleasure of the memories engendered. It was also a considered choice, discussed and planned for, the costs, not just financial but in our quality of life for the rest of the month, analyzed. Did we choose wisely? We believe we did.