can you eat your way to making the world a better place?
Do you eat out at restaurants a couple of times a month? If you do, how much do you usually spend per person, including tax and tip?
That depends, of course, on where you eat and where you live. Let’s narrow it down a bit. I’m not talking about a rockin’ 24-course blow out at Alinea, but I’m also excluding the quick $1 taco at the taco truck (although undeniably delicious). I’m thinking more along the lines of a dinner at one of your favorite neighborhood restaurants… for us, a good example would be La Medusa in the Columbia City neighborhood. Here’s what I might order:
- tomato soup – aqua pazzo, capers, anchovy, farm egg bruschetta ($7)
- perciatelli con le sarde, caramelized fennel & onions, sardines, saffron, pine nuts, olives, raisins ($17)
- cannoli ($6)
- ’06 Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo – Quattro Mani ($8.50)
Total cost: $38.50. After tax and tip, you’re looking at roughly $50.
So what if, instead of going out to a restaurant, you could take that $50, donate it all to a worthy nonprofit org, take a tax deduction on that contribution, and still enjoy a (hopefully) comparable meal with some friends? Would you be down for that?
Here’s my idea. I love to cook and I have friends who love to eat (a good match). What if I host a dinner with food that comes relatively close to the kind of menu I just described? I could probably manage to serve up to eight people in our home. We would do a three course menu, with cocktails and wine, and create an environment where guests would be served and enjoy themselves as if they were dining out.
With eight people, that would be $400 raised for charity right there… using money that would have been spent anyway.
What about the price of creating the meal? I’m convinced that if you plan well and shop carefully, you can make a very good meal for eight people for roughly $50-60 for the food and $40 to $50 for cocktails and wine. If it costs me $100 to make this dinner, then the impact of that $100 gets multiplied four-fold. Not a bad multiplier!
I shared this idea with a few friends, who were all supportive. But a couple of them asked if my cost estimates for the meal were realistic. Could I really serve three courses and have cocktails and wine for just $12.50 per person?
There was only one way to find out…