You may be surprised to know that paying $10 for a $2 meal is not my biggest problem with eating out. Rather it’s the abundance of choices on the menu. I don’t like choices. Why do I have to spend time reading a 10 page booklet to decide what to eat? If I go out to eat I don’t want to be faced with a multivariate analysis of which meal combo provides the best value in terms of price and enjoyment. Ideally I just want one binary choice: “Do I want to eat here or not?”.

If I were a gourmand, I would probably appreciate choices, but I”m not, so I will specifically pick restaurants that make the choice for me. Little Caesars Pizza has essentially three choices on the $5 menu. They have other and more expensive pizzas, but all they some to do is to require more choice in terms of which topping to select and I’m not paying for the mental anguish. I can deal with three choices. I also like Chipotle. It has an assembly line with very few choices at each station. Subway also has an assembly line but it has far too many choices. How do I know I wont pick some horrible combination of condiments and additions? I don’t. So I stick to the easy solutions.

Sometimes, though, I have to go out to eat “somewhere nice” to appease DW or for social reasons, so what do I do? I have found that every restaurant typically serves something called the “burger” or the “club sandwich”. Now I never know exactly what that entails, but I do know that every restaurant offer them. Thus by making the choice once and for all that “whenever I go somewhere, I order the burger” I have minimized the mental inconvenience of eating out. Problem solved.

If you think I’m crazy think about how you would feel if your 401k plan only allowed you to invest in single stocks and required you to perform an individual analysis of each of them. You’d either pick a stock at random but equally likely you would probably avoid investing altogether. This is how I feel about restaurant menu choices. I don’t care about food performance, so give me my “index food” aka “the burger” any day!

Related links: