I like to eat home cooked food.
Don’t get me wrong, I like to eat out once in a while, but it quickly loses its appeal to me.
We eat out at most once a month, (for an evening meal), and once a week I buy lunch from the shops.
Other than that we eat at home for the most part. About once a week we get a ready meal from the local supermarket , but otherwise there is a lot of home cooking.
So when/why do me and Mrs SxSW eat out, and what can we learn from it?
Eating out (evening)
When we do eat out – it is memorable and special. The last two times we ate out as a couple (other than the honeymoon) was at a Mexican restaurant and at the local high end burger joint.
We went to the Mexican as we had mistimed a trip back from the nearest city and were both at risk of getting Hangry. This was (at the time of writing) about four months ago, and we were picking up bits for the wedding. Since we don’t eat out to often, we splurged on tacos, a burrito, some rice, water with the meal and a cream based cocktail each as a desert. It was fantastic. While it was too much to spend on a recurring basis, it was a great and memorable night.
The last time we ate out was maybe a month ago. We were walking round town for the morning doing odd jobs together, had no bread at home (mistimed the weekly shop), hadn’t eaten breakfast and were at risk of getting Hangry. We went to the local Gourmet Burger Kitchen and ate a burger fries and drink each. I had the lava burger and Mrs SxSW had something a little cooler. We each had water with the meal and a fruity milkshake as desert – mine was lime. It was fantastic, though I could barely walk afterwards I was so full.
If we went out like that every week or (heaven forbid) even more, it wouldn’t be special. It would be the usual, and there would be nothing to get excited about. We would not remember each night in the same way and I would also put on some serious weight.
I note a couple of similarities in those two stories:
1. We eat out when we screw up timing for meals and need something to eat right then and there. We could probably sort out this problem with better planning, but then…we might never eat out. The spontaneity of this is quite nice, and at once every couple of months, this isn’t a big deal.
2. We eat things at restaurants/café’s that we don’t normally eat, thereby making it more of an occasion.
3. We don’t get desert and drinks. If you choose your drink correctly, you can have your drink as a desert. I recommend an extravagant cocktail, a milkshake or similar. You can drink beer or wine at home with a meal, but can you make a lime flavoured milkshake without splitting the cream (in all honesty I don’t know, but I suspect the answer is no).
4. Eating out like this is very much the exception to the rule.
Eating out (lunch time)
In stark contrast to eating out with Mrs SxSW, eating out for lunch is routine and not that special.
I tend to eat out once per week, usually Wednesday or Thursday, and get sandwiches. Sometimes this is a great sandwich from the local sandwich bar, and other times a Tesco reduced item from the lucky dip (reduced section) or a trip to subway with colleagues.
Since I wander out of the office most lunchtimes I often pick up a smaller lucky dip item anyway, maybe a sausage roll or a quiche. This would usually be an additional and unneeded snack.
I would suggest if I have improvements to make in terms of health and frugality and eating out, this is the area to make them. These goals could be:
1. I should cut down on the pastry based snacks, increase the vegetable snacking that occurs.
2. I should only eat out once every couple of weeks or less, rather than once a week.
3. I should make sure that the lunches I do eat, I enjoy. No more cut rate sandwiches – only Tesco finest, M&S or local deli/sandwich shop.
The above article was actually written a month or two ago. So, since I formulated three goals, how did I do?
1. I have improved the quality of my snacking. I have cut out the crisps and increased the fruit and nuts. I do still eat the occasional quiche or sausage roll, but this has definitely been cut down. Goal achieved.
2. I have not decreased the number of times that I eat out. I would not say it has increased either, but the idea was to reduce. Goal failed.
3. I have been buying food that I really enjoy. I have decreased the number of sandwiches (I can make sandwiches at home) and increased the number of more interesting items I buy – ribs for lunch in the office is a good day. Goal achieved.
The journey has to be the important thing, rather than the end goal. The above goals are designed to make the journey more pleasant. I have made progress toward the food that i want to eat. That has to be the focus of our financial journeys as well, heading toward the end goal of retirement, while enjoying the journey as we go.
I am sure that i will go through many food phases, some for better and some for worse. I will backslide on goals, and set new goals. The point is, i have to make sure that the food I am eating is intentional and not the easy option, because that leads to junk food, bland food and bad food.