Hopefully, restaurants will be back on the menu very soon. That said, you can’t eat out every day. You can, however, bring that restaurant vibe home with you. It’s up to you if you have it at every meal or just on special occasions. Either way, here are four tips to help make it happen.

Separate your dining area from your kitchen

Most restaurants still have the kitchen area totally separated from the dining area. Even in restaurants where the kitchen is open to view, the public is usually kept out of it. No matter how big or how small your home is, do your best to separate the food-prep area from the eating area.

Decorate your dining area

Successful restaurateurs understood the importance of decor long before Instagram came along. It’s a large part of what creates the ambiance in restaurants. It’s entirely understandable that you might not want to commit to turning your dining area into a permanent “home-restaurant”. After all, you might not even have a proper home dining area.  

You can, however, add temporary decorations. This can be as simple as putting a table covering, napkins, fruit, flowers, and/or candles on your table. If you’re going for candles use unscented ones. Scented ones may compete with your food. If you have storage space for decor, keep a selection of seasonal items to rotate. If you don’t, rotate items around your home.

Invest in your equipment

One of the big differences between fast-food outlets and proper restaurants is the level of comfort they offer. This is because fast-food outlets want customers to eat quickly and leave. Restaurants want diners to enjoy the dining experience.

As a minimum, be prepared to invest in your table, chairs, and basic hardware like crockery and cutlery. If money is tight, you can build up a collection of quality pieces over time. It’s fine if they’re mismatched. There are plenty of ways to create a cohesive look. For example, use a tablecloth and matching napkins or placemats and coordinated napkins.

Be prepared to invest in specialist tools. Some specialist tools are just gimmicks but many serve a real purpose. For example, would you expect to see cheesesteak restaurants without proper steak knives? If you really enjoy a particular food or drink, it is worth investing in the right equipment to enjoy it.

Put together a menu

You don’t need to put together a written menu. That said, it can be a nice touch for special occasions. All you need is something like a chalkboard where you can write down what people are going to eat. This is a neat trick for several reasons.  

Firstly, it’s fun and can help get people talking. Secondly, it prompts people to mention any special requirements. Thirdly, it can subtly tell people (e.g. fussy children) that is what they’re getting. This can help to head off arguments.

Getting into the habit of writing menus for meals can also encourage you to take both meal-prep and meal-planning really seriously. This can help you to shop effectively and minimize (or even eliminate) food waste. Your wallet will thank you and so will the planet.