Right after the New Year, we decided to tighten up our budget and one of the first things to go was dining out. We vowed not to eat out for the entire month of January. It worked out so well for us, that we’ve just kept on going. As of today, we’ve eaten in a restaurant exactly once (as a family) since January 1 (and we were treated to that meal by my father and stepmother).
Here are a few things that I’ve noticed since we quit dining in restaurants.
1: Restaurant food can be pretty “Meh”:
If you allow yourself to be honest, restaurant food just really isn’t that great all of the time. When I sat down and thought about it, I realized that 9 times out of 10, I walk out of a restaurant thinking, “Well, that was pretty good.” That’s not an acceptable reaction to just having paid anywhere from $50 to $100 for a meal for 4 people. Now that we’re not eating out as much, when we do eat out, we will choose only the restaurants that we know are a home-run for us–the ones that never disappoint.
2: Overeating is (mostly) a thing of the past:
How many times have you walked out of a restaurant and felt almost sick because you’ve waaaaaay overeaten? We don’t overeat as badly when we eat at home. That one restaurant meal that we had in January was Mexican food. While Mexican food certainly isn’t known for being a “light lunch” this particular meal was super heavy. I ordered some gigantic burrito, smothered in cheese. The first few bites were delicious, but then, after a while, it began to feel like a chore to eat–which is CRAZY to look back on and think about. Why didn’t I just stop eating? When I eat at a restaurant, for reasons too many to name, I feel like I need to clean my plate if possible. Being a people pleaser by nature, maybe I dread the waiter looking at my half-eaten plate, asking, “was your meal ok, ma’am?” I also have a weird relationship with taking home leftovers from a restaurant. There are precious few meals from restaurants that actually reheat well at home the next day. Many times, my half-eaten restaurant meal sits in the fridge for a days, awaiting its ultimate demise in the trashcan. Such a waste.
3: “Making do” and getting creative in the kitchen:
When eating out isn’t an option, we’re much more willing to figure out something for dinner. The best part is that I’ve finally come to terms with the idea that we don’t all even have to eat the same thing! If there’s a dab of leftovers, a can of soup and a few frozen chicken tenders in the freezer, we can eat “potluck” style–which actually makes everyone happy. We can also make a killer gourmet grilled cheese sandwich in a pinch. Not only does it feel good to be utilizing our groceries, but it also clears space in the fridge and pantry for the new grocery items that are on my list to be purchased during the next shopping visit.
4: Wearing jammies at the dinner table is a real possibility
When you’re eating at home, there’s no need to dress up. There were many times in the past that I gritted my teeth when it was time to go out to eat and I had to change out of my comfy “house clothes” and into something a bit more presentable. These days, since we’re eating every meal at home–I get to stay in my comfy jammies if I want. This probably makes me happiest of all.
The funniest thing to come from this whole ‘experiment” is that, while it was only supposed to last for the month of January, we’ve decided to make it our personal mission to see how far we can go with it. The children are even on-board with it. It’s changed the way that we think about the money that we spend dining out and it’s made us be more conscious of how much stuff costs. It’s been the ultimate “reset” for our family. I highly recommend trying a similar experiment out for yourselves!
Have you ever tried to reign in your dining out habits? Tell us how it worked out in the comments below. Or, do you have any tips and tricks for those who are currently trying it out?