Desperate Times, Desperate Measures?

1215012902It’s no secret that most food writers and editors don’t rank high on the food chain, salary-wise. Consequently, we’re masters at getting the most bang for our buck, and at sniffing out mid-priced meals that prove worthy of far more dough. So when the R-word (recession) starts rolling around, we really don’t feel as much of a blow as the average restaurant-addict. (Really, how could our wallets get any thinner?)

For many, though, an economic downturn necessitates the scaling back of one’s dining budget. Perhaps you’d get your guacamole fix at Olecito instead of Ole. Order the steak frites instead of the ribeye. Learn to make your own Schlowburger. Or grill your Fleming’s dry-aged steak yourself.

Wait, what?

Indeed, one of this week’s most notable press releases seemed like recession marketing at its finest:

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar is proud to announce they are now offering hand-cut steaks to-go. Serving the finest USDA prime beef: corn fed and aged up to 4 weeks, they are extending the steakhouse experience to the backyards and kitchens of their devoted clientele.

Steak prices vary by cut, but the implication is that home grilling is a cost-saving alternative to dining out.

Now, as a foodie I’m all for the grilling of high-quality meats at home, and for seeking out better steaks than you can find in the markdown pile at Stop & Shop. I love the idea of picking up your ingredients at places that care about quality. But there’s something a little depressing about pinching a few pennies by taking your steak to go, isn’t there?

Especially when the city’s teeming with midpriced eateries and—shocker!—great ethnic restaurants serving ginormous portions of pad thai, shish kebabs, and chicken tikka masala for a fraction of what your standard steakhouse meal can cost.

What do you think? Sad marketing ploy, or practical approach to a very real problem? And when your bank account’s looking a little sparse, where do you go out to eat?