My daughter stayed with friends for a couple weeks this month, which is always an interesting and enlightening experience. I was impressed to hear that they ate at home every night, and that every dinner was homemade; she said that the mom was a great cook. But as tasty as it was, it was all "stuff on rice or pasta", and after a while, my daughter missed steak and salad.
I think that what she missed even more was conversation. Our dinners aren't always homemade - or even at home - but they are usually full of conversation (except nights when we are all too tired to be pleasant) and often laughter. Nothing is off limits except rudeness. When we all make it home for dinner, the meal tends to take half an hour to an hour; it is a chance to be together, to catch up on the day or the week, to enjoy each other, to make each other laugh. But dinner at the friends' house was a chance to eat a meal, to refuel before the evening's activities; meals generally lasted about 15 minutes and had little in the way of conversation beyond logistics. I suspect that the lack of dinner conversation was harder on my talkative daughter than the unfamiliar style of meals.