For Jump of the Ladder 3.0 I have an exciting new challenge: giving up paid entertainment and substituting creative entertainment. Trist and I have noticed a cycle of entertainment among our peers. Especially with Summer starting and our friends now out of school, it’s an endless cycle of meeting up at a bar for drinks or a restaurant for food and drinks. Neither of these things are particularly healthy or appealing. While we enjoy the occasional drink, 100% of the time we both feel the negative effects of 1 or 2 beers for much longer than the euphoria. We keep our bodies very clean with fresh food, tea, exercise, and lots of water so our tolerance for things like coffee and alcohol is very low and always leaves us with upset stomachs.
We also don’t understand the food obsession of our peers. Trist’s company takes the employees out to lunch on birthdays, and his coworkers go over the menu beforehand, then discuss the meal for hours after its conclusion. My coworkers are obsessed with restaurants like it’s their job. Oh you’re going to X city? Make sure you eat at these restaurants when you’re there. Rather than activities, restaurants are their entertainment. They plan huge group dinners at the trendy new spot and get excited about eating in a way I don’t fully understand. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good meal but I tend to view it as sustenance, not as an activity in itself. Restaurant food also leaves us feeling very heavy and low energy afterwards because (1) the portions are so large you are bound to overeat and (2) restaurant food is cooked with more fat than you would use at home.
So rather than participating in these entertainment staples specific to 20 somethings, I am choosing to opt out of bar culture and food obsessed culture. Instead I will be choosing to partake in free activities such as hiking, biking, crafting, reading, etc. I want to participate in things that add value to my life, rather than things that make me feel crappy. To kick it off, here is a list of 59 Free Things to do to Feel Amazingly Alive!
I have a sushi problem.
Really, I do. There’s this awesome little sushi place around the corner from my apartment. On Monday they have 40% off all sushi and Friday they have 30% off after 9pm and a live DJ. I have tried every single roll. I will drink an entire large hot sake by myself, and share with the waiters if they are having 2-for-1 sake specials. Once the idea pops into my head, I turn to Tristan with a twinkle in my eye and a high pitched moan of “suuuuuuushmeeee” (our made up word for “let’s get sushi RIGHT NOW”). We end up getting sushi for dinner once or twice a week.
But it’s not always sushi. Tristan and I eat out A LOT. Like, definitely more days than we cook dinner at home. After an 8 or 9 hour day at work, an hour and a half at the gym, and a shower, it’s easy to enter a mindset of eating out. At a restaurant the food comes in less time than it takes me to cook. I don’t have to do any dishes. And it tastes awesome. Meanwhile at home, a drawer full of vegetables delivered to us twice a month slowly wilts in our refrigerator.
But it comes at a cost. I was looking at my Mint.com account that I use for budgeting and I was horrified. It has a feature where you can graph and trend your spending over time and this is what I saw for the past 12 months:
The orange one is how much I spent on food. I spent more on food than I did on my student loans and almost as much as I spent on rent. The actual number came out to around $6000 in 12 months. When did I let my eating habits get so out of control? So starting April 11, as part of the Jump Off the Ladder Challenge I am giving up restaurants.
Here are the reasons I’m giving it up:
- My restaurant spending is out of control. I’m racking up credit card debt, not on clothes or shoes or electronics, but on sushi and sake.
- We get locally grown, in-season, organic vegetables delivered every other week. On top of some kick-ass salads, it gives me a starting point for meal planning, and makes me explore new recipes.
- I love to cook. I’m actually pretty good at it too.
- Cooking is relaxing for me. I like to put in my headphones and play the M83 Pandora station on my iPhone while I bliss out in the kitchen.
- Home cooked meals have half the calories of restaurant food.
- We have enough groceries to survive for like three months. There’s really no excuse.
Giving up restaurants will extend far beyond just saving the money. I can sharpen my cooking skills, play with new recipes, and get myself organized. I’m going to have to creatively plan meals with the food we have at home. Periodic progress updates (and recipes?) may follow!