Yes, that’s right. I’ve decided to do monthly challenges. They will be posted near the end of each month, and you can take participate during the same month I do them. Or else choose another time that works best for you. Either way, here’s the challenge for September: one month of not eating out. That’s right- 30 days of no restaurants or Starbucks. No stopping for fast food or delivery. Everything you eat or drink, is prepared and brought from home.
I first did this challenge while living in California, and let me tell you, it was hard. Really hard. Everywhere I looked, there was food. Starbucks, Mexican restaurants, ice cream vendors, and pizza parlors surrounded me. The temptation to eat out was constant. But I survived.
I learned how to cook, and I started making meals I actually enjoyed. Not just meals that were easy or convenient. I also became really creative at finding new activities. Since eating out is a social thing, I had to think of other stuff to do with my friends and husband. Instead of just going for dinner, or meeting for coffee, we did walks along the beach, picnics, at-home spas, and potlucks. Date night even consisted of taste testing. We blindfolded one another, and fed each other “secret” foods. The goal was to guess the foods we were given, and whoever got the most correct-won. So, one month of not eating out, doesn’t need to be boring. But fun. Allow yourself to be creative, think outside the box, and not fall into the “let’s just go for dinner” trap.
How It Works
Here’s a breakdown of how it works, but you can create your own rules, and follow whatever is best for you.
First of all, choose the one month of not eating out. For me, this is September. So, 30 days, of no restaurants, fast food, takeout, or delivery. No drinks or food will be purchased anywhere- except the grocery store. Now this doesn’t mean you are stuck at home and can’t go out- no. Explore, play, have fun. Just make sure to pack food with you, or be back at home in time to eat. That’s it!
Now before you get bummed out, thinking this is too hard. Too boring. Let me fill you in on all the good reasons to do a challenge like this. Things to motivate, and inspire you, to start as soon as possible.
Eating out costs money. Every coffee you pick up, every meal at a restaurant, every quick fix on the go. Is money gone, out of your pocket. Of course they seem like small purchases, but they add up over time. And I’m sure all this money could be spent in much better ways.
Home prepared meals, snacks and drinks, are typically always healthier than things ordered out. Homemade pizza is way better than Dominos. Even pastas, cookies and salads, are all more nutritional when made at home. Only because you know the ingredients, and get to choose exactly what goes into them. At least most of the time.
When you can’t take the convenient route of eating out, you’ll be forced to learn. Lots. How to cook meals, and how to bake. Foods you like, and foods you don’t. Snacks you can easily prepare, and things that take too long. You’ll learn how to spend time with others, while finding new things to do. You’ll become more organized, and make better use of your resources, and time. In fact, the learning will feel never-ending.
I love change. Trying new things and testing my boundaries. But not everyone does. So, this is a chance to change things up, and see what you are capable of. Challenge yourself to live a different lifestyle. Focus on different things. Change the way you think, eat, spend your money, and your time. Just for 30 days.
Here are some FAQ’s in case you are still a little lost.
Q: What about eating out at other people’s houses?
A: Yes, if people invite you over to their house for dinner- go. But if they invite you to dinner at a restaurant- politely decline. Suggest a potluck, or invite people over to your house. Better yet, do something not food related at all.
Q: What about celebrations, birthdays, holidays?
A: This is completely up to you, but it’s important to pick a month where you don’t have much going on. That way the chance of holidays, birthdays, and celebrations interfering, will be much smaller. As an example, I won’t do this challenge in November, knowing it’s my Anniversary and we’ll probably go out to eat. I also won’t do it during vacation time, because we eat out- lots. But in the end, if it is just a one-time thing, do it. No one is watching except you.
Q: How can I prepare myself?
A: Have a good mindset. Think positively, and expect to have some fun. Then make sure you are stocked with food at home. Get ready to cook, make meals, and also get creative. There are so many other things to do besides eating out. And you might even be surprised by how much you depend on eating out, when you can no longer do it. I’ve also listed some helpful cookbooks below, in case you are new in the kitchen like I was, and still am.
Have fun with this challenge, and please let me know how it goes!!