Tag Archives: Cooking

Tips for Always Eating In

I’m a mom who works outside of the home.  I am a high school choir director; a job that I love.  I miss Ryman terribly at moments throughout the day, but luckily, when class starts, I am able to compartmentalize and enjoy work.  I am required to be in the school building from 7:45 am-3:15 pm, but as many teachers and friends of teachers know there are always hours outside of the classroom.  It’s musical season, so on Monday and Thursday, I’m at school until at least 5:30 at rehearsal.  We’re doing South Pacific this year.  You’ll definitely be hearing more about that as the show approaches.  Matt has a pretty flexible schedule, so on rehearsal days he’s able to pick up Ryman from daycare, which is great!  Wednesday evenings are for small group meetings.  Sundays are always full of multiple church services.  I’m saying all of that to say this:  our schedule is packed.  This is part of the reason we opted for going out to eat so often.  We’ve started the year-long journey of not going out to eat at all, and in order to do this we had to come up with some practical things to do to avoid restaurants.  Here are four of the ones that are helping us right now.  I’m sure we’ll come up with more as we progress through the year.
1. Decide and Commit. Even if your goal is to avoid going out to eat for one week, you have to make the decision and commit to actually doing it, no matter what.  We started talking about doing this since January and it took until March for us to finally pull the trigger and go for it.
2.  Identify Your Danger Zones. When we did go out to eat, we ate out most on the weekend.  We don’t tend to sit around the house.  We are always out doing something most of the day.  This makes it hard to eat at home.  We knew that weekends would be the most challenging for us.  Somehow just knowing this, and anticipating the challenge made it less difficult to get through this first weekend.  Examine your schedule and identify the times when going out to eat is the most tempting.  Know that it will be a challenge, and see tip #1.
3. Prep Lots at Once. I have gotten good at this one.  When Ryman started eating real food, we decided that I would make all of her baby food.  It really is not hard at all, and we felt good knowing exactly what was going into her little body.  I got into the habit of making her food in big batches and storing individual portions.  I still do this every week, and it helps with our mornings tremendously.  It’s great to be able to grab a few containers and throw it into a lunch bag.  I definitely regret it when I don’t prep things in advance.  This week my mom reminded me of something they do.  Whenever she and my dad grill, they cook lots of chicken and store it in the refrigerator.  When it’s time for a meal, they pull it out, heat it up, and add it to any meal.  We’re definitely going to try this soon.
4.  Pre-Plan. This one is probably the most important.  As I have said before, one of the reasons why cooking every night is so difficult, is that it’s so hard to come up with something every single night.  I’m so excited to tell you about our solution!  We have started using e-mealz!  I first heard about e-mealz on Dave Ramsey’s radio show, and was reminded about them by Jon Acuff, on his blog, Stuff Christians Like. I knew I needed some help with ideas if I was going to make 3 meals a day for 365 days in a row.  We have used e-mealz for two weeks, and we love it!  Once you pick your plan, you get recipes for the whole week plus (this is the best part) they make the shopping list for you for the grocery store of your choice.  They plan the meals based on sales, so our grocery bill has actually decreased, even though we are buying more.  The meals are great, and the recipes are easy.  Check out their different plans here:  E-MEALZ Easy Meals for Busy and Frugal Families.
I hope these are helpful!  Do you have any tips to add?

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Filed under How It Works

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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Filed under How It Works, Why No Restaurants?