The week is ever so slowly coming to a close and I for one am SO excited for the weekend! I'm headed into Toronto for a weekend full of errands and fun (and more fun!). Can't wait!! This weekend also marks the start of December, so I wanted to take a moment and write about how my attempt at a month without restaurants went.
This time last month I was looking at my credit card statement wondering how I could possibly spend SO MUCH money on food. I mean, I love food and all, but I don't eat a large amount, nor do I eat out every day, so what's the deal? The fact is, I live in a tourist town, and as such, food (and groceries, and clothes, and everything) are ridiculously expensive. And while groceries may cost me more here than they would in Toronto, I knew I could make a significant dent in my budget by cooking exclusively, and not falling into the trap of buying a lunch at work (even if the company cafeteria has the most vegetarian options and is the most reasonably priced place to eat in the town. And now that I've said that I can hear Ephraim saying "ahem, the stagecoach, ahem!". Second cheapest. There).
The month has not been completely restaurant free. Let's get that out on the table first. In the last 30-odd days, I have purchased food from outside sources 4 times. A couple weeks ago in NOTL we had "Fabulicious", a terrible portmanteau that is the name of an event where the priciest restaurants in the area (and there are lots of those, this is wine country!) do special prix fixe menus, making them more accessible. So, I had a special dinner out with some friends from work. That was cheat meal number one.
Later that same weekend, I had two little slip ups, one of which I'm not sure really counts since it wasn't a full meal per se, but I went out to try poutine for the first time and to celebrate the return of a friend who had been out of the country for a couple weeks. Actually, I ordered chili cheese fries (also a first) and tried someone else's poutine, but it was still a magical affair, and there was beer, and I don't feel bad about it. So there. Then the next day I was ravenous to the point of extreme irritability after an extended trip to IKEA (y'all know what I'm talking about. And I wasn't about to cave and buy some IKEA food. Standards!) so we went out for felafel. Still, I don't feel badly about that, because Ephraim's life was on the line (EXTREME irritability). So, up to this point we're at 3 slip ups, 0 of which I regret.
I bought lunch at work one day this whole month, and it's the only time I felt that I had really dropped the ball on my goal. I didn't take the time to cook something large enough the night before that I would have leftovers to bring with me. I made sure to swing by the grocery store on my way home from work, cooked an extra large meal, and woke up with plenty of time the next morning to pack a substantial healthy lunch for myself. I learned from the one incident this month that I felt could have been prevented, and was worth working to avoid. And I feel really good about that.
All in all, this experiment has been really worth while. It has saved me money (which incidentally I will be spending on a reward for my efforts :P), it has pushed me to try to cook things that I would normally just go out for (burger night was a 2 time success. Whoop whoop!), it resulted in much less food waste due to better meal planning, and a substantial shift in the ratio of perishable to non perishable food items I bought over the month, as I was shopping for produce twice or even three times a week, instead of only once. I feel good about the changes I made, and I feel confident that I can carry over the habits I have formed into the coming months, while granting myself some leniency, because let's be honest, life without the Guru's Dhal Makhani is not worth living. Gimme my curry, please!
With holiday shopping well underway, have you made any changes to your budget to accommodate for the extra spending this time of year brings?