Of the myriad things we miss during lockdown, eating out is surely one of them. While we've been able to indulge in the odd takeaway home delivery (in a responsible, socially distanced manner), going out for food and drink is obviously a no-go.

The psychology behind why we’re missing restaurants and craving takeaway treats right now

The psychology behind why we’re missing restaurants and craving takeaway treats right now

But now McDonald's is set to reopen some stores for takeaway collection, and after Costa coffee opened drive-throughs, there were huge queues. Not everyone was impressed – after all, is it an essential journey to go get a takeaway latte?

Social distancing problems aside, experts and those in the industry agree it's very telling that we've missed other people preparing food and drink for us. But, why?

The connection with the 'real world'

Psychotherapist Hilda Burke explains that the idea of going for coffee or out for dinner can be nostalgic, "it's something that connects us to pre-lockdown times". Missing something that was once so easy, and taken for granted, "such as a takeaway coffee and croissant on the way to work", now, because we've "not had access to that, it feels more indulgent."

Coffee, in particular, is a ritual

Henry Ayers, co-founder of coffee shop group The Gentlemen Baristas, says: "Familiarity and routine are two crucial reasons why we are missing our daily coffee shop outings.

"That daily stop at a local coffee shop, be it en route to work or as a breather midway through the day, is such an important part of the day, and represents taking a moment to ourselves, to indulge ourselves with a small, affordable luxury."

"We also miss the congenial exchanges with baristas – the familiar, friendly face, the, 'Hello,' and, 'Have a good day', that again is such an important moment of connection in our normal daily lives," adds Ayers.

It's a huge part of our routine

Eating out is practically in our DNA. Many of us love to eat out locally and splurge on celebratory meals. Right now, the only way we can do that is via takeaway.

Andrei Lussmann, managing director at Lussmanns, a small chain of sustainable restaurants, has turned his kitchen production towards takeaway. "Whether it's part of routine or a spontaneous act, a visit to a pub, cafe or restaurant can form the essence of someone's day, week or even month," he says.

"Without these moments to meet, greet and enjoy one another's presence, we are lacking in our fundamental need to socialise, after all, this is what being human has always been about." Ordering food in means we at least get a taste of that – however minimal.

We want to support our favourite places

Restaurants remain empty but we want a way to support them
Restaurants remain empty but we want a way to support them

Understandably, you'll want to support producers and restaurant owners where you can. "The government has said that the hospitality industry will be one of the last parts of the economy to be fully revived, as it is naturally characterised by close physical proximity," Derek Gardner, environmental health consultant and a director at Food Safety Consultancy Navitas.

"The economic strains on our smaller local food and drink providers [means] loyal customers are keen to return as they don't wish for these businesses to be closed down permanently."

The taste of someone else's cooking

Then there's fact that, no matter how good at cooking you are, having done so much of it during lockdown, you just want to taste something – anything – you didn't personally rustle up from the fridge. And there's no shame in that.