The Restaurant Trap

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:

Money

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:

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. I love to cook. I’m actually pretty good at it too.
  4. 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.
  5. Home cooked meals have half the calories of restaurant food.
  6. 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!

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