Category Archives: Why No Restaurants?

We’re not eating in restaurants for a year. Click here to see why.

Excuses, Excuses

Let me start by saying, I have always cooked.  Before we started this journey of not eating at restaurants, I cooked most nights of the week.  Weekends were another story, but on school nights, I usually had no problem cooking.  However, there were nights when I would call Matt about an hour before he got off work, and we would do the all-too-familiar “What’s for dinner?” dance.

Me: Hi, how’s your day going?

Matt:  Fine.

Me:  What time do you get off work?

Matt:  Six.  Have you started dinner yet?

Me:  Not yet, I’ve been (insert something like: dealing with Ryman being fussy, staying late after school, trying to decide what to make).  What do you want for dinner?

Matt:  I don’t know.  What do we have?

Me:  (with a very pitiful voice) I don’t know either.  I guess I can look and see if I can figure something out quickly.  We don’t have anything defrosted.

Matt:  Do you want me to just pick something up on the way home?

Me:  Well, I guess I could make (insert something intentionally unexciting).

Matt:  You don’t want to cook, do you?

Me:  No, not really.

Matt:  I’ll just pick something up.  What do you want?

Me:  Thank you.  I don’t care.  What do you want?

Then we switch dances to the “Where do you want to eat?  I don’t know. Where do you want to eat?”  dance.  I’m sure you all are familiar with that one.

When we really weren’t concerned about what we spent, it was easy to find an excuse not to cook.

I put plenty of pressure on myself to make something fabulous every night.  So if I didn’t feel up to cooking a meal worthy of the food network, I didn’t want to cook anything at all.  I now have to deal with the fact that on busy or lazy evenings, a sandwich can be sufficient.  I will be forced to abandon the notion that being a “good wife” equals feeding my family a dinner a la Martha Stewart every night.

Matt will also have to be ok with leftovers.  To his credit, he has come a long way.  When we first got married, he wouldn’t even entertain the thought of eating something for a second time.  It was less about “old” food as it was about eating something again he had eaten recently.  There were definitely times we would go out to eat just to avoid eating leftovers.  Now, he will occasionally bring some leftover chili or casserole for lunch later in the week.  I have also found ways to repackage the leftovers so that he feels like it’s a new dish.

There are plenty more excuses we used for going out to eat as frequently as we did.  While putting together our plan for attacking this huge challenge we presented to ourselves, we have confronted many of our excuses.  We are well aware of the challenges we will face, and that this isn’t as simple as just saying,”We’re not going out to eat.”

In my next post I will talk more about the practical steps of our plan that are making making this process a little easier.


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The Last Meal

The last meal.  The last time for a whole year eating in a restaurant.  Talk about pressure!  We have tried to decide what exactly our last meal would be for a few weeks.  Truthfully, we have had lots of “lasts.”  One last time eating Mexican.  One last time eating Chineese.  One last time at McDonalds.  The list goes on.  It seems like since we decided to do this, any time there was a temptation to get out of cooking, we needed one “last” time to eat somewhere.  We wanted to get it all in.

At one point we wanted to go out on a romantic date to Sambuca for their shrimp and crab bisque and cheesecake sopapillias.  This would have been great, however, both of my parents have been out-of-town tending to their ailing fathers, so no (free) babysitter for Ryman.  That was fine because upon further discussion we decided, we wanted our last meal to be something that is difficult to make at home.  It is so easy now to find just about any recipe, and there are plenty of international markets for odd ingredients you might need.  We had to pick something that took some skill to make that I might not be able to do.

The big winner?


We had to go down to my parents house to return my dad’s chainsaw Matt used to get this out of our yard.

Near their house is a great place called Fulin’s.  They have a huge sushi menu plus lots of other choices.  Matt is really the Sushi eater of the two of us.  I like it fine, but I’m not usually going to pick it over another option.  We both had their salad with ginger dressing.  It’s very creamy, unlike other ginger dressings that can sometimes get watery.  Matt decided on a rainbow roll.  For those of you who don’t eat sushi, it’s crab meat, avocado, and cucumber rolled tightly with seaweed and rice with pieces of whitefish, tuna, salmon, and more avocado laying on top of each piece.  The part Matt loves is dipping each piece into soy sauce he has mixed with the big clump of wassabi that comes with each plate of sushi.  I didn’t want to waste my last meal on sushi, so I opted for their chicken lo mein.  That may not seem exciting, but it is probably something I won’t be making at home.  It was wonderful.  The best part about the meal was that Ryman was in a great mood, and was content to open and close the menu over and over and eat her peas and sweet potato.

Right next door to Fulin’s is Cold Stone Creamery.  For those of you who have been to Cold Stone, that is enough said.  You know we went there.  It’s similar to Marble Slab with all of the mix-in options, but soooo much better.  From the first conversation about the last meal, I let Matt know that I really didn’t care where we went as long as it involved Cold Stone at the end.  After much deliberation, I got chocolate ice cream with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups mixed in.  (Definitely the right choice.)  Matt got cheesecake ice cream with graham crackers and strawberries mixed in.

We had a great time, and great conversation about the naysayers who think we won’t make it a year.  I truly think we can, and it all starts today!

I would love to know…

What would you want for your last meal?


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Dave Ramsey Hypocrites

I listen to Dave Ramsey’s radio show on my way home from work every day.

We’ve read Total Money Makeover.

I’ve even been through Financial Peace University.

We must be ready to call in next Friday and scream, “WE’RE DEBT FREE!”

Not even close.  We’re Dave Ramsey hypocrites.  Gazelle intense?  Try puppy intense…easily distracted and focused on whatever is moving across our path.  We have had good intentions, and could talk a really good game.  We know all of the baby steps, we’ve printed off all of Dave’s forms and filled them out numerous times.  If someone were to ask us what baby step we were on, we probably would say two, but truthfully, we have been stuck somewhere between baby steps one and two, content to let our debt hang around.

We have come a long way financially since we have been married.  When we first got married, I was in school and Matt was delivering produce for a small family produce company.  We lived in married student housing, and prayed to make it from paycheck to paycheck.  We had no plan, and our account saw many overdraft charges because of it.  Matt eventually started working for First Tennessee as a teller, which gave us a little more to work with.  When I graduated from UT, we moved to Nashville, and I got my first teaching position.  Matt always planned to go back to school, but we decided we wanted a year of both of us working full-time so that we could actually feel like we had some money.  We also said we would pay off some debt and save.  Even with our windfall of a first year teacher’s salary, we didn’t start paying of debt.  We bought stuff!  Matt did go back to school and graduated, but we did that with student loans.  Somewhere in there, we read Total Money Makeover and I went through Financial Peace University.  Even with those great resources, all we decided to do was to start budgeting and build up the $1000 emergency fund.  These were both great things to do because it put an end to the overdraft fees and it took the panic out of a lot of situations, but we didn’t go any further.

Since then we have just been coasting financially.  We would save up here and there for big purchases, but had never done any real sacrifice to our lifestyle to really attack the debt.  Until now!  Matt looked back at our records, and last year we averaged about $400.00 a month eating out.  We actually think that number is a little low because we had a baby last February, and many meals were brought to us.  You also don’t get out much with a newborn.  From March 1, 2011 to March 1, 2012 we know that we will be cutting at least $4800 from our budget in restaurants alone.

Now, when I listen to Dave’s callers get suddenly silent at the suggestion of giving up restaurants, I will no longer say to the radio, “Yeah right.”  I’ll be saying, “We’re doing it!  You can do it too!”


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You’re Doing What?

We’re not going to eat at restaurants for an entire year.

A whole year?


Not even drive-throughs?


You’ll have to pack your lunch every day.


What about snacks?

We’re allowing grabbing a drink or something at a gas station, but we’re going to try not to.

So what is this about…saving money…losing weight?

Mostly saving money, but losing weight will probably be an added bonus.


This was the typical conversation Matt and I have had when we started mentioning to people the thought of not eating out for a year.  The concept is totally foreign to most people.  It definitely was to us.  We are so accustomed to eating out multiple times throughout a week, and the kitchen pretty much closed on the weekends.

Sometime mid January the thought popped into my head, “I wonder if we could not eat out for a whole year…”  I immediately dismissed it, but it kept coming back to me.  Truthfully, I didn’t want to consider it, but since the thought kept on nagging me, I decided to mention it to Matt.  I just knew he would be my out.  There’s no way he would be ok with bringing his lunch to work every day.  I could still sound very frugal while speaking about my great idea, and blame him for the lack of follow-through.

There’s no way he’ll say yes.

He did.

Without much thought actually, and that irritated me to no end.

So, on March 1, 2011 we will be Always Eating In.  For an entire year…breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Or, for you super southern folks, breakfast, dinner and supper.

Keep track of our progress, challenges, successes, and give us some feedback and advice by subscribing to the blog.

Do you think this is possible?  Will we make it?


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