Tag Archives: Saving Money

Eating In At Seminary

My biggest concern when we agreed to not go out to eat for a year was what Matt would do on seminary weekends.  He is attending Asbury Theological Seminary, and does most of his classwork online.  He does have to go to the campus one weekend per month to do intensive coursework.  His schedule is packed, and I thought eating in would be impossible.  In fact, we decided to start this challenge later than we had planned in order to avoid one of these seminary weekends.

When he goes, he leaves at 3:30am Friday morning, and has a 3 1/2 hour drive to Kentucky.  He sits in class from 8:00am-5:00pm, and then goes back to the dorm to work on homework for the other classes he is taking.  Class on Saturday lasts from 8am-12pm.  He gets back in the car and drives home another 3 1/2 hours.  Usually, there is something going on Saturday afternoon or evening that we have to do, so he is totally wasted by Saturday night.

I, being the obsessive compulsive planner that I am, spent a lot of time trying to decide how we were going to do one of these weekends.  Do I buy a cooler and prepare meals ahead of time that could keep without a refrigerator?  Does he only eat peanut butter sandwiches for five meals?  I even told him at one point to make sure to stay somewhere where they had a kitchen, and he could cook meals for himself (like he’s not busy enough…see above paragraph).  How nice of me.  We briefly entertained the idea of giving him a pass for seminary weekends, but we didn’t want to give in since we have been doing so well.

Our solution turned out to be much more simple than anything I agonized over.  Thank goodness for already prepared food at grocery stores.  Duh…  He loves Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tarts, so that takes care of breakfast.  During the break for lunch, he went to Wal-Mart and got a few things from their deli, and a salad for dinner.  Now before you get all legalistic and say that this is cheating, keep in mind that we decided to not spend money eating in restaurants.  I consider him picking up a salad from the deli the same as buying a Lean Cuisine.  On his drive home, instead of driving through somewhere, he usually gets through lunchtime with Combos, and eats something real when he gets home.

I’m so proud of the work he is doing and how he manages all he has to do in order to be successful in Seminary.  I’m so blessed that he also cares so much about our goals as a family even when he is taking on so much in his own life.

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Filed under Eating In While Traveling, How It Works

Still on Track!

It’s been a while since my last post.  We have had some major family events in the last two weeks.  I am just now feeling like I have recovered from them.  I’ll tell you about the first event today, and the second event in my next post.  Both were highly emotional in very different ways, and each offered its own unique challenges to eating in.

In my last post, I showed you how we were able to fly during dinner and still eat in.  We flew to Florida for my grandfather’s funeral.  We spent a week there having the funeral and getting his house ready for sale.  We had a wonderful time, despite the circumstances, spending time with family, reminiscing, and doing some relaxing.  Eating in while we were out-of-town was surprisingly easy.  Our first day there, we took a trip to the store, and bought food for the week.  We spent a little time at the beach on a few of the days, and packed a lunch to bring with us.  Matt thought it would be fun to feed the birds, and I was able to get some fun shots of them all diving for the pieces of crust.

 

We ate sandwiches...Ryman ate sand.

 

 

 

Bird announcing that food was near.

 

 

 

Diving for the crumbs!

 

 

The evening after the funeral, my mom said that grandpa wanted to take us all out to dinner.  Since we would not be spending any money, we knew we had to respect his wishes and go out to eat.  We went to Sharkey’s on the Pier, a place where my grandpa had taken us when we would visit.  We would go to the pier and fish, and would sometimes get to go to Sharkey’s to eat.  Matt was excited because he always loves getting “real” seafood when we’re in Florida.  He got a boatload of shrimp, and I got shrimp and grouper.  It was amazing.  You really can’t compare anything we get here in Nashville to what they have in the Gulf.  Since grandpa was paying, and we knew this was a rare opportunity, we ended the night with the best key lime pie we had ever eaten!

When we arrived back in Nashville last Saturday, we dropped our bags, and immediately drove to Murfreesboro to see the Lake County basketball team win their State Championship game!  I was reluctant to go since we had just stepped off a plane, but I’m so glad we did!  The game was amazing, and we got to see a lot of people from Matt’s hometown.  Their coach is the first female to coach a boy’s team and win the State Championship.  This was also her first year at Lake County High School.

We had a good, but exhausting week, and we stayed on track always eating in!

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Filed under Eating In While Traveling

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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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?