Going out to eat isn't as mindless as it seems– at least it shouldn't be. As you sit down at your table, you're faced with a task. In front of you, concealed by a set of silverware, a napkin, a plate, is…*drum roll*...a menu. You are a menu master, and the challenge begins:

Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to narrow down a list of 20 items, no more than five. The twist, however, is that each item is as appealing as the last. Are you up for the challenge?

It doesn't have to be as daunting as it seems. The key: bring a friend, some family, or even a foe (though this option would be considerably less enjoyable). They’ll get the job done nonetheless. Sharing is your greatest weapon, and independence is your kryptonite. This method has quite literally no downside, and frankly, if you're not ordering family style, you’re doing it wrong. Let me tell you why:

Optimizing Menu Potential

A menu is typically broken down into three parts: appetizers, entrees, and desserts (and yes, you must always save room for dessert). Now, you could go the route of ordering on par with a standard three course meal, but that limits you to a mere three menu items. Why settle for three when you can have six? Maybe eight? How about ten?

A menu has so much opportunity, and when you order cooperatively, you’re optimizing that potential. Each section of the menu is as important as the next, so to skimp out is to miss out.

Eliminating the Burden of Indecisiveness

Picture this: you’re presented with your menu for the dinner you are about to indulge in. You give it a quick glance, maybe a thorough scan from top to bottom, and you're instantly overwhelmed. It’s beautifully eclectic: sweet is paired with salty, each meat perfectly aged, nothing like you've ever seen before. So many options, and you can't go wrong with any. How will you choose? The indecisiveness sets in.

Don't fret! Fear not! You don't have to choose. Say goodbye to the voice of regret in the back of your mind, to the part of you exclaiming: “I wish I ordered something else.” How can you lose if you don't even have to choose? By ordering multiple plates to share, a burden is suddenly lifted off your shoulders; you’re finally free to enjoy the myriad of options in front of you.

The benefits don't end there. We’re all plagued by order envy– it’s in our human nature. Every now and then you’ll take a bite of what your company ordered, and are instantly filled with a longing for a second bite. Order as a group, and it doesn't have to be just a taste. Feed your satisfactions, cater to your desires. Ding dong the witch is dead, order envy’s reign comes to an end!

Increasing Social Interaction

Going out to eat is a break. From work, from responsibility, from whatever worries you may have. Food fuels the soul, brings people together and acts as an opportunity to immerse yourself into new cultures. Going out to eat is bridging a gap between you and those who you indulge with. Your interaction increases, and you’re given immediate conversation starters, bonding with whomever you’re dining with over the tasteful and satisfactory nature of each bite you take.

If you order as a group, you can discuss what you’re eating. What has been your favorite dish? Least favorite? Most interesting? Sure, you could discuss the meal if you order individually, but there's no mutual understanding, no connection.

I know, ordering collectively is a big step. Risking the possibility of liking one dish so much, you wish you had it all to yourself. But with high risk comes high reward, and in this case, the reward of becoming a menu master is worth it.