Have you ever wondered how many restaurants there are in this country compared to the number of people?
While sitting at a buffet restaurant with my husband for breakfast one morning, I started wondering just how many restaurants there are in this country compared to the number of people.
In my head I was thinking we have so many restaurants that there has to be about one restaurant for every ten people. I told my husband my thought and he estimated it was more like one restaurant for every 500 people in this country.
It turns out my husband was pretty close.
I was really curious about how much Americans must eat out in order to keep the restaurant industry surviving and thriving, so when we got home I looked up some numbers.
According to Statista.com there were 624,301 restaurants in the United States in the spring of 2016. The U.S. population at about the same time, on March 31, 2016, was 322,558,125 people according to Census.gov.
Total restaurants includes quick service restaurant franchises, full service restaurant franchises, and independent restaurants.
The U.S. population includes everyone from newborns to seniors in nursing homes.
Crunching the Numbers
Let’s do some math to get a better handle of those numbers.
By dividing the population (322,558,125) by the number of restaurants (624,301), we find that there is 1 restaurant for every 517 people in the U.S.
So let’s say I share one restaurant with 516 other people. How many times do each of us have to visit that restaurant in order for that restaurant to be profitable enough to stay open?
If all 517 of us eat at that restaurant once a week, that restaurant would serve 517 meals in 1 week. That averages out to about 74 meals per day, seven days a week.
Is 74 meals per day enough for one restaurant to serve to stay in business? Probably not.
What if all 517 of us eat at our restaurant twice per week for an average of 148 meals served in a day? That still might not be good enough.
That means my 516 friends and I would have to eat at our restaurant at least twice per week, or visit other restaurants while others to visit our restaurant so every restaurant gets the equivalent of at lease 2 visits per person per week.
What’s the cost?
Doing this quick math it is clear Americans are averaging more than two meals out per week. Looking at it this way, it’s no wonder we see so many Americans facing health problems today.
My husband and I don’t go out to eat much at all. It would probably be a high estimate to say we go out to eat about twice a month. And this includes going out for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and eating on during vacations.
The total number of restaurants has dropped from 637,584 at its peak in the spring of 2014 to 624,301 in the spring of 2016. This is about a 2 percent drop over those 2 years.
There have been a number of times that my husband and I have discovered a place we enjoyed and would like to visit again only to find it has closed.
What’s the alternative?
We do enjoy eating out, but we also enjoy preparing homemade meals at home to save money and control the ingredients we use. We are starting to make meal preparation more of a family activity.
My kids have experience with cooking skills from taking the Kids Cook Real Food cooking course. My daughter has been through most of the beginner lessons, and my son has been through most of the intermediate lessons.
The course was created by Katie Kimball of Kitchen Stewardship, one of my favorite healthy living blogs. To give you an idea of the types of things Katie teaches on her blog and in her course, she has a free pdf with 10 healthy snack recipes kids can make on their own.
Some basic kitchen skills my kids have learned so far from the Kids Cook Real Food course include:
- Dry ingredient measuring
- Liquid ingredient measuring
- Cracking eggs
- Melting butter (we used a pan on the stove)
- Using an oven safely
Learn more about the Kids Cook Real Food cooking course here.
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