MENU

Photo: Matthew Mead/AP Photo

Let's make chocolate while we watch "Chocolat."

Why do dinner and a movie when you can Netflix and make chili?

After peaking in 2000, the number of U.S. restaurant meals per person each year has steadily fallen, with this year’s rate reaching an almost 30-year low. Roughly 8 out of 10 American meals are prepared at home, according to research organization NPD Group Inc. At the turn of the millennium, the average U.S. resident dined out 216 times annually, in 2018 that figure has dropped to 185 meals per year.

Researchers believe a combination of factors are at play, including improved in-home entertainment, convenient cooking options and old-fashioned money woes. Grocery and meal-kit delivery services such as GoodEggs and Blue Apron, streaming content like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime, and financial factors including rising student debt are all keeping eaters away from restaurants. Finally, while restaurant prices have risen steadily since 2000, the cost of cooking at home has remained relatively flat for the past five years.