Sunday, January 10, 2010

Not eating out

Remember that one of my goals for the Perfect 10 challenge is to eat out a lot less. I am doing actually really well on this goal! I have eaten out twice in the last week -- both times at Subway -- and since Christmas break started I think I have eaten out a total of five times. By the way, only two of these times were really "worth it": once when a friend who has moved away was here from out of town, and secondly when I had to work, exercise, and get to a show at the Walton Arts Center by 7. The other times could have been avoided with better planning and/or more desire to eat at home -- and the food probably would have been better.

There are a couple of things striking me on this whole eating at home phenomenon. First of all, I am drinking so much less soda. I used to order pop (I'm originally from Ohio; yes, I call it pop) with almost every meal I ate out. And since I ate out once a day -- sometimes twice -- most days, that adds up to a lot of pop! Let's *VERY CONSERVATIVELY* say that I ate out 5 times a week. Pop costs usually about $2 at a restaurant. This adds up to $520 a year! Think how many 2 liters you could buy with that money. Also, it's really not good for my health -- water is so much better -- so think about that aspect too. Now that I am eating at home and the holidays are over, I am only letting myself buy pop for very special occasions and very rarely.

The second thing that is striking me is how much I have developed as a cook. I am to the point where I'm not really afraid to try to make most things myself. Lots of times, they turn out really well! I really like my own shrimp fajitas, I can cook a really tasty honeybaked ham (the magic is in the glaze), and I took breakfast to a whole new level over break. I'm experimenting with soups and liking many of the results. I make onion and cheese stuffed burgers that are to die for. In short - I am really starting to get pretty darn good as a cook. Given that this is the case, why would I want to eat something made with (usually) inferior ingredients that I'm able to prepare myself, and be sure of the ingredients/point values? A lot of the times, it is better anyway. I am getting confident enough that I can alter recipes with reasonable confidence. For example, yesterday I made egg salad and it turned out really well. As I was making it, I played around with the Recipe Builder on the Weight Watchers website. This is a really slick tool that helps you to calculate how many points are in your recipe so that you can easily track what you're eating. I ended up fiddling around with the recipe until I ended up with something that was only 4 points for a generous about 1 cup serving! I was pretty happy/proud/excited! It was really really tasty too. I think one of the keys was spicy mustard and the other key to low points was not using all of the yolks. 3 egg whites = 1 point!

Over the break I made my signature tasty burgers. They're based on this recipe. Sunny Anderson swore you should use the fatty 80/20% beef and, although I was unwilling to do that, I did half the leaner 95%/5% and half the more fatty 80%/20% beef. I ate two of the burgers over the break, but I froze the other two to enjoy later. I nearly choked as I put the recipe into the recipe builder on the WW website. The hamburger patty alone was 12 points! It was delicious though and I did not want to waste the food so I was determined to enjoy it. Plus, I have about 40 activity points I've earned this week so I was in good shape point wise. I ended up having the burger on a bun (and not a WW bun either) with half an avacado spread on top. Here is the part that floored me. It made me realize how much I am changing, and how much my attitude toward food is changing. I wanted to enjoy this burger with some pop and Doritos. Instead of buying a normal grocery-store-sized bag of Doritos, I bought a smaller gas-station-sized bag (2 1/8 oz) and a 20 oz Diet Coke so that I would not have the rest sitting around. Was the price per unit of food/beverage higher? Yes, absolutely. But I am just glad not to have that crap sitting around my house tempting me and begging me to eat the rest. I think that, fundamentally, I am changing how I think about food. I am changing what it represents to me. And I am changing my value system around it. In the past I would have bought the huge bag of Doritos and I would definitely have bought a 2L of Diet Coke. Not anymore, baby! Times, they are a changin'.

Am I there yet? Um, no. I still have to focus on making healthy choices a lot. It still occupies a lot of my mental capacity, and is very emotional for me. However, when I do things like buying smaller bags and THEN think about how it is actually a big step, I get excited. I also feel hope that, in fact, I can change my life and sustain these changes. That is probably half the battle right there.

So overall? I am loving eating at home more and eating out less. It is more work. It takes more planning. I view it as an investment -- an investment in my health and well-being.


  1. It is interesting to see the changes eating at home brings. Whether that be smaller portions, better food, or less "pop". Sorry, I cringe at the word "pop". :-) Of course, being from the south it is all "Coke", no matter who makes it. :-)

  2. It's ok Steve. I'm in import to the south now, so I kind of understand. I think my favorite is when I hear people use Coke in conjunction with other pop names, e.g., "Sprite Coke".

  3. Sarah, just wanted to let you know that your first post in regards to eating out less has inspired me to try and do the same.

    For me the issues were the following (and probably in this order):
    1) I am so tired of fast food!
    2) That's a helluva lot of money!
    3) I suppose it can't be that good for me even if I make "better" choices.. e.g. yea a salad is better than a greasy cheeseburger but fried chicken on top and lots of dressing can't be that awesome for me...

    I was used to going out to lunch every day, mostly because of the social interaction, which seems ridiculous to me. I will just have to find other ways to see people without breaking the bank. Then I'd be lazy to cook and just grab something quick for dinner too (I'm not sure how I could stand it!). So just recently I have started to force myself to go grocery shopping (with a list so I don't go overboard) and make my lunches the night before. Force myself to make the conscious effort.

    Also, I have found for me a big hurdle for cooking at home was that I really hate having a cluttered kitchen. I didn't realize it before but since making an effort to clean up the dishes and the kitchen right after the meal, the next time I walk in I'm happy to jump into cooking.

    You have definitely inspired me to try and eat out less and mostly to be more confident in cooking. You make it seem very simple to pick up and I love that! I've always been intimidated by long ingredient lists and lots of prep time, but I think I can do it! :)

  4. Wow Lisa - hard to believe I'm an inspiration for that since I used to be the poster child for eating out! I am really digging eating a home though. And I have a weight watchers meeting coming up soon so hopefully the scale is digging it too :)


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