Skip to comments.What Happened to the American Middle-Class Meal?
Posted on 10/21/2012 9:07:23 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
Living in a big city, as I do, it isnt hard for me to spend a lot on dinner. One big meal, and you can find yourself over $200 poorer, just for two people. Of course, it isnt hard for me to spend very little on dinner either. I got fried pork chops and pork fried rice sent to me from the local Chinese takeout last night, and the whole meal cost me something like nine dollars. What is hard to get is a meal for $50 or so, and that seemingly innocuous fact speaks to an insidious trend not just in the food world.
Michael Whiteman, the restaurant industry guru who sends out a list of coming restaurant trends each year, calls this dumbelling. When Whiteman (whom I know well) first wrote about the trend, he had fast food in mind in particular the simultaneous drift towards premium items on one side of the menu, and ultra-cheap value items on the other. At McDonalds and other burger chains, the marquee burgers are edging upward to $6 or even more; meanwhile, unspeakably gnarly, $1 burgers occupy the bargain basement. Its not just at McDonalds that this sinister tendency plays out; dumbelling is happening in the culture as a whole, with a Funyun economy existing for the poor, and an heirloom tomato one for the prosperous.
Consider the state of our restaurant life....
(Excerpt) Read more at ideas.time.com ...
My guess is he has no idea what middle class is. Plenty of places to get meals for 2 from $35 to $65.
Author sounds insane.
Go buy $50 worth of stuff and grill it.
The middle class does not spend $50 a meal for one person
We spent $30 for the whole family on pizza, and thats splurging
I must be poor. Wife and I eat good for $50 a week.
I think he meant $50 for one family, which is still mighty high where I live. You can buy an awful lot of beans, macaroni, rice and inexpensive meats for $50.
“My guess is he has no idea what middle class is”
The author lives in New York City, proof that he has no idea what an American is either...
I spent $47 at the grocery store tonight and have enough to feed three people dinner for the next 5 days and enough leftovers for my lunches.
We spend $35 per week, and buy $15 per week of stuff for the grand daughter we babysit.
We also try to grow as much of our own produce as we can like lettuce tomatoes and onions etc. so that we are not feeding pesticides to her or ourselves.
He had his wedding catered by celebrity chefs for FREE and didn’t disclose it in the TIME piece where he wrote about it... But instead gave the chefs tons of free advertising by praising it to high heavens. Dishonest creep.
Seriously, it isn’t hard to drop $40 for a meal at most restaurant chains that are mid-scale - olive garden, chancery, etc. Plenty of 15-18-20 dollar items on the menu for one person, then add in drinks, even tea/sodas - and that will easily propel you over $40.
one large order of fries, one large onion ring order ( 6 onion rings) and 3 of the large plain roast beef sandwiches at Arbys....over $23!!!
I’m thinking he means 50 bucks for a family to eat out, since he menioned Friendly’s and Ground Round. But then again he’s in NYC. For most of America there are lots of Applebees, Chiles, Olive Gardens, etc., not to metion local places around.
Yes he does and it appears that most of the people posting here so far hadn't bothered to read the article.
I'll summarize it for those who are too lazy: The middle-class American restaraunt (and we're not talking Chili's or Appleby's here but actual family restaraunts where you got good food at a reasonable price served by waitstaff and consumed with actual silverware) has pretty much disappeared. It has been replaced by expensive "adults-only" type places on end and fast food on the other.
Please tell us what you bought and what you’re planning to cook with it. I live near DC and I could never manage your feat.
YES, my husband and I can eat out for less than $50 easily...it’s the WINE that costs so much....if we didn’t drink 1-1/2 glasses apiece our weekly meal out would be cheap...and it ain’t hamburgers!
Gnarly Burgers! Gnarly Burgers!
Both date back to when that street was the major highway through the city. Some of the small family-run motels have survived as well.
KFC used to be a decent medium priced fast food place, but these days the prices have just skyrocketed. 3 piece chicken tenders & fries is more than $5.00. And Long John Silvers is even worse. They've got combo platters that are $9.00 now!
The book market has been "dumbbelled" for decades. In the early 1950s, a guy without too much bread could plunk down a quarter for Mickey Spillaine's The Big Kill. In addition, someone with more bread [or enough desire to belt-tighten] could plunk down several dollars for a hardcover of Human Action. And both books made their nut.
Back then, the complaint from liberals was about the market only catering to the "lowest common denominator." The so-called dumbelling phemomenon was pointed out by free enterprisers as proof that the free market also caters to more refined tastes.
And sure enough, the liberals ignored the point until they could work it into their narrative of complaining.
While I'm on the subject: I seem to be becoming a self-appointed historian of modern liberalism. Although my knowledge is sketchy, I have pointed out a few instances of today's liberals' golden ages being roundly complained about by the liberals of that time. Think of the treatment of Ronald Reagan then and now: I've seen enough memory-hole idealization to confirm that it's part of a liberal pattern.
The price of a decent cut for 4 of London Broil has gone from around $6 on special in 2007 to $13 on special in 2008. I can get 1LB of 93% ground beef for $5.25 about where it used to be around $4 in 2008.
Lamb Shank, $2-3 now $6-7.
But pork and Chicken price rises have been substantially less.
Good Quality apples from .79 per pound to 1.29 per pound. Eggs 2.80 to 3.25
Prices aren’t going up in unison across the board for grocery store prices. I’m sure primary reason is transportation costs as fuel prices have been substantially up for extended periods of time.
So SHTF people ... keep the “How To” articles coming, cause it’s coming.
First casualty of internal strife are reliable food supplies.
“Living in a big city, as I do, it isnt hard for me to spend a lot on dinner. One big meal, and you can find yourself over $200 poorer, just for two people”
Author = Idiot.
WTH do you live? 80% ground beef is about $3.50/lb., FIVE dozen eggs are $6.89, gallon of milk is $2.59, etc.
Hot dogs, mac and cheese, and microwaved veggies. Middle class meal for less than a buck per person. No EBT card required.
It's not just restaurants: read the "food" section that's in every Wednesday's newspaper (online or print). The editorial slant is heavily biased towards high-end, expensive recipes with exotic ingredients. There are no columns touting the blessings of an economical meal, enough to serve a small family, and made with humble, inexpensive ingredients. Forty years ago you could find recipes for meatloaf, or gelatin salads, or breads. That went out the window with S&H Green Stamps and returnable milk bottles. The recipes are for either fancy, expensive "gourmet" meals or for junk, and there's little in between anymore.
On the non-food side of homemaking, the "Hints from Heloise" column is gone (is it still being run anywhere?), there are no more columns on sewing, etc. These food and homemaking columns were written with the self-sufficient housewife (homemaker) as an audience. The modern sentiment is that she needs to be torn out of the house, away from a stove and off to a high-end restaurant or a fast-food place to serve her hungry family. The modest homemade meal served to family is seen as passe.
I live in the South East in a cluster of small cities and towns, but rural area is still only 10 minutes away.
I haven’t seen milk at $2.45 a gallon since I was 12 years old and I don’t buy cheap eggs.
But the point was, the cost of eating decent healthy quality food has gone up some 30% over the last 5 years.
That went out the window with S&H Green Stamps...”
I would venture that not a whole lot of people on here used S&H Green Stamps. We used to bowl at our local alley on Saturday night. Were able to pretty much buy everything in their catalog at the end of one year.
One of our local really good Italian restaurants sends out a $10 off coupon providing you spend a minimum of $30 once a month. For $20 four of us can eat reasonably well. What I do miss are the dollar menus at the local fast food places. Used to have an Arby’s where you could get 5 roast beef sandwiches for $5. Took care of my lunch for a week but they’re closed now.
Take a chill pill Josh, you live in the snob bubble..Typical New York claptrap, if it isn’t in New York, it isn’t really happening, or worth talking about.. The fact is, a medium priced restaurant can’t afford your rent, so what they have left is the extremes..
Josh, and Michael Whiteman, (oh, and BTW, I know him too) are paid by the word, by the media elite, and not for being common, as in you and I.. I doubt he has ever eaten in an OLIVE GARDEN, CHEESECAKE FACTORY, or a CRACKER BARREL..etc..
We, you and I live in the mecca of diverse moderately priced cuisine, and it has never been better for middle America.. Within a 10 mile radius in most locations, one can find white tablecloth restaurants, with real forks and knives, and in many ethnic varieties..
Now, what we do lack is wholesomeness, but that is another story..
Okay, one family is still.... although I thought I read “for 2 people” in the article and thought that was his basis.
This persons idea of “middle class” reminds me of the old soap operas where the “poor” people looked pretty well off to me most of the time. lol
Hey Grams, I recall getting real piece of free China, as in dishes, at the local theater, with a double feature.. We all eventually had a complete set, just by going to the Show..
Before S&H green stamps, there were Premiums everywhere.. Toasters, Radios, TV’s and Irons, at banks for opening savings or checking accounts, or appliances at department stores, free for opening a charge account..
Towels, tea, face, and bath, in laundry detergents, and real toys in cereals.. I grew up loving this stuff, and built my own business model on my youthful passions for FREE STUFF.. If you planned your convention at my hotels, I’d give the CEO a New Cadillac.. TRUE :)
Oh my, you must have missed our FReeper Cookbook threads every Friday, plenty of wholesome recipes, hundreds of them.. Never heard about the “CLINTON LEGACY COOKBOOK”? You haven’t lived yet.. HA!
He obviously hasn’t ever heard of Outback or Olive Garden or Red Lobster or Buccs De Pepo or Black Angus.....I am sure there are local moderately priced restaurants as well. Anyone who would send out for pork fried rice and be thrilled with a $9 charge is an idiot. Obviously living in the Big Apple has made the man delusional
might be true in NYC...most definitely is not true in the rest of America.
>>The middle-class American restaraunt (and we’re not talking Chili’s or Appleby’s here but actual family restaraunts where you got good food at a reasonable price served by waitstaff and consumed with actual silverware)
Why aren’t we talking about Chilis and Applebys? Every time I see one of these “the middle class restaurant is gone” stories, someone always removes Chili’s, Appleby’s, Olive Garden, etc from the list of “acceptable” restaurants.
The poor can’t afford to eat there often and the rich think that those restaurants are too common for their tastes. That is the very definition of middle class.
Since we live in the same area, this should be easy. Just drive past a Joe’s Crabshack. There is absolutely nothing about Joe’s that’s upscale. It’s not only middle class, but the downscale side of middle class. Last week, the wife and I had dinner there. Granted, it was the full course, appetizers, drinks, dinner, desert, but the result is the same, $200+, gone, poof. One meal at a truly upscale place like Dallas Chophouse can set you back twice that.
That sounds more like low income fare than middle class to me.
Perfectly stated. Chain restaurants are the epitome of middle class dining.
I never liked seafood, lucky me
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