Random Meals

Celebrating the Small Victories…or How We Avoided Eating Out

Since we’ve met, my husband and I have always loved eating out. Charlottesville is such a foodie town that there’s always a new restaurant to try out or a personal favorite to revisit. The problem is that this is not a cheap habit. Over the past year, we’ve been making a point to stop eating out quite as much. Two or three years ago, I’d say we were lucky if we ate 3 dinners at home each week. Now, we’re down to eating out once a week, sometimes less.

There’s still plenty of room for improvement but there’s progress nonetheless. It also became a fun challenge as we try to replicate some of our favorite restaurant dishes. Some dishes end up tasting just as good while others are at least enough to satisfy the craving. We really want pizza? Let’s use a whole wheat pita bread, whatever cheese we have in the fridge, spinach, and whatever meat is around. It will be ready before your delivered pizza would have arrived anyway, and you won’t get the greasy feeling of eating pizza from the big chains. Never mind the fact that you also saved yourself some money!

On Saturday night, I didn’t know what I wanted. I was tired and hungry, usually two key ingredients to suggesting to eat out. As I was willing to cave in on any option brought up by my husband, he started roaming around the kitchen (pantry, fridge, freezer, repeat!) until he suggested making dinner for us. As I was writing a few greeting cards, I couldn’t help but enjoy the various smells coming from the kitchen. Jeff made a chicken curry, which was, in my mind, just as good as anything we’ve ever had at a restaurant. He made steamed Jasmine rice, a rich curry sauce (with a base of almond milk) and thin sliced chicken breast. Upon Jeff’s request, I went to the garden and picked up and few leaves of basil and a big piece of green onion. He also added a bunch of spinach, a favorite in our house. The result was amazing. Even though it was too spicy for me, I still couldn’t stop eating. It was so good! We did agree that we’d find a way to make two different sauces next time, or find a way for Jeff to make his portion spicy, while leaving mine mild.

Jeff's curry delight.
Jeff’s curry delight.

I was so glad we didn’t cave in. Props to my husband for coming up with the idea that night. It was one of the best dinners I’ve had in a while (despite the heat) and it took less than an hour to prepare. I also love to think how cheap the meal was. Two chicken breasts, a cup of rice, a cup or so of almond milk and seasonings. The veggies came from our garden so that didn’t really cost anything. If we had the same meal at a restaurant, we would have easily spent over $30. Definitely a win.

I have to say too, that even though I often crave restaurant food, I think it’s only out of habit. Because so far, every time we’ve decided to cook at home instead of eating out, we have both been extremely pleased with our decision. It’s never disappointing. It also saves you from the restaurant tummy ache (why did I have that appetizer and the dessert?!?) and the wallet ache as well (was my meal really worth that much?). Mind you, we still enjoy eating at a good restaurant but we choose a lot more carefully now. We want a meal that we wouldn’t necessarily eat at home and something that will be worth the extra money. Which, in the end, makes us appreciate our foodie town even more.

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