Jim and I love to cook. We will research online and through our stash of cookbooks, looking for new ideas and dishes to try. It also doesn’t hurt, that when you live in a big city, you can find just about any “exotic” or “ethnic” ingredient needed. And while our hobby of cooking at home is a good one, our habit of eating out at least a couple times a week is one habit that we are trying to break. We have a challenge—no dining out for 6 months. We started on July 1 and so far it looks as if we are going to make it for this month. Rules are pretty simple:
1)All family meals should be eaten at home (except if we are at a friend party/house etc)
2)Jim can still pay for meals at the firehouse (cooking club dues vs. bringing in his own food)
3)I can have some cafeteria meals or meeting lunches for work (like 1 day a week) but most lunches should be brought from home
4)Kids lunches for schools will be brought from home
5)Special occasions and birthdays are not exempt from the rules. We will make favorite dishes at home
6)Eat at home before going out to an all day family activity, as well as bring snacks in the car.
By doing the above we assume that the following will happen:
1)SAVE MONEY! We anticipate that we would save an additional $300-$500 monthly. We eat out a lot. Too often really, and for no other reason than we didn’t plan our meals out ahead of time or we are too lazy to cook.
2)Making healthy meals at home will help our kids establish healthy eating habits and future healthy diet choices.
3)Getting kids more involved in the end-to- end meal prep (selecting the recipe, shopping for the ingredients, prepping the meal, cooking the meal, setting the table, clearing the table and kitchen clean up) will allow them to see the time, energy, effort and most importantly, the reward of doing things yourself.
4)SAVE CALORIES! It’s pretty easy to overeat when dining out. Endless bread at the table, offers for another glass of wine, a little dessert won’t hurt anyone, right? When is the last time you have had soup, salad, and appetizer, a main course and a dessert at home? We don’t eat like this at home, so not quite sure why we do this (over and over again) when we dine out.
We now plan out what meals we will have for the week for all dinners and plan our shopping around this. Now when grocery items have a purpose and place for the week, they are getting used up and we have a lot less throw away produce since we shop once and only buy what we need to complete the meals for the week. Maybe this is at home cooking/planning 101, but having a “challenge” as our motivator has created the commitment to stick with it, and one that is working for us. Are you up for the challenge?