ACCORDING to recent reports, eating out in restaurants and hotels has been identified as a cause of inflation in the country.

Looking at the number of eateries, food courts and restaurants sprouting up, it is a clear indication of the whopping growth in the food business.

It is a fad to eat out and with the different food outlets available, patrons are spoilt for choice and eating out is not cheap.

I remember going out with my colleagues for lunch and the experience has always been a revelation for me.

Though we have a cafeteria at our place of work, some of us like to venture out to seek new grounds for their culinary experience.

There are days we would drive an average of 10km to 15km to a restaurant that someone has been to and found to their liking.

They would be upbeat of the restaurant and heap praises on the quality of the food and their exemplary service.

When we arrived at the restaurant, we would be circling the area for about 10 to 20 minutes searching for a place to park the car.

And after finding a parking spot some distance away, we would complain about the lack of parking and the way cars are parked.

At the restaurant, which is usually packed during lunch hour with not many seats available, we would not settle to be seated at any ordinary spot.

We have our own “feng shui” rituals to seat ourselves and after finding a spot, we would complain about the floor being dirty or the table being littered with food or the chair being soiled.

When the waiter hands us the menu card, each of us would take at least five to 10 minutes to place our orders.

And there would always be someone who would ask for an order that is not listed on the menu.

Each of us would order different food and the waiter has to note it all down. No one person would order the same food as another.

When the food finally comes after some time due to the lunch hour crowd, we would complain on the time taken to prepare the food.

Being hungry we would dig in instantly and almost immediately judge the food with comments such as, “it’s ok”, “it’s not so bad”, “it’s too spicy”, “it’s too salty” and “it’s too little”.

When the bill finally comes many of us are shocked to see the final amount.

While walking to the car some would say that they would never return to the restaurant while others would say that it was nice.

The whole process of driving to the restaurant, ordering, eating and then driving back costs money, which could very well be saved if we had chosen to eat food cooked from home. Not to mention, eating out nowadays is an expensive undertaking.

Back at the office, some would feel satisfied with the whole eating out experience while others would have their reservations.

The following day the same routine follows at another restaurant.

Searching for the ideal food paradise. Eating out and discovering the food paradise is no easy task.

We go through traffic jams, parking problems, ordering confusion, eating indigestion, uncleanliness and a host of other problems when eating out.

Putting all the costs of doing this together, it is not that hard to see the amount of money spent.

Even after work, it would better for us to eat a home-cooked meal rather than head out to a restaurant and spend more money satiating our hunger pangs.

Some of us have also discovered the hard way that nothing beats food packed from home.

I pack food from home for lunch, usually chappati or sandwich or fried noodles.

My wife prepares them early in the morning.

Even breakfast is taken at home which is usually oats with milk and a cup of Milo. Packing food from home is an efficient cost-cutting measure.

More importantly food prepared at home is healthier, hygienic and most of all cheaper.

It is ironic that most households spend a fortune renovating their homes to build a wet and dry kitchen, which is sparingly utilised.

Eating home-cooked food at your workplace reduces tension, cost and beats inflation.