Monday, May 02, 2011

Monumental Weekend

Something monumental happened this weekend. Yes, a prince married his princess. Though quite a lovely ceremony, that is not what I am talking about. And yes, The United States found and destroyed the number one terrorist in the world. Again, most certainly monumental. But also not what I am talking about. This weekend, Ruanita and I defied the odds. Despite all of the barriers to our success—despite our very real drive to fail—we managed to succeed. We accomplished the impossible. We went an entire weekend, Friday to Monday, without eating out a single meal.

So is this an accomplishment on par with the destruction of bin Laden—ten years in the making? Is it worthy of celebration in the same manner as the inauguration of a brand new member of the royal family? Perhaps not in the eyes of the average Joe. However, as far as I am concerned, this is an victory greater than any other event that happened this weekend. Perhaps greater than any event of the past year.

Let me provide you with a bit of background so you can, perhaps, understand the magnitude of our accomplishment. Since the birth of our oldest son, there is nothing Ruanita and I have enjoyed more than eating out. We used to be of the stay-home-and-cook-homemade-food persuasion. Until we had children. Suddenly, every waking moment was dedicated to our children. We were physically exhausted. We were mentally fatigued. We lost all desire and ability to cook. Picking up Chinese take-out or ordering a pizza or stopping at Chipotle for a quick meal was simply easier. As the years progressed, our eating out became more frequent and more extreme. We have been known—on more than one occasion—to eat out every single meal in the course of a weekend. To make matters worse, we are no longer satisfied with a cheap sub sandwich or burrito. No, our tastes have changed. Our preferences lean toward better quality (and costlier) meals out. We have become a bit snobbish about food. We have turned into minor foodies. As a result, our bank account—and our waistlines—have suffered a grisly fate. Frankly, we are getting damn fat and pitifully poor.

So we had a discussion. A painful, prolonged discussion, complete with numerous sighs and eye rollings. We did not rumble, however. We managed to discuss our finances without an all-out, throw-down, kicking and screaming wartime offensive (monumental accomplishment #2 for the weekend). In the end, after reviewing our expenses and writing out a budget, we determined that the bulk of our money goes toward eating out. After our mortgage and car payment, our eating out budget is our biggest expense. And really, should a person eat as much as their house is worth in the course of a month?

So we have no choice but to curb our habits. As a result, we cooked not one, but three dinners this weekend. Homemade. In our own oven and on our own grill. Despite working our fingers to the bone raking our yard on Friday and stripping wallpaper from our bedroom walls on Saturday (an ugly, messy task that took way longer than we imagined it would), we did not give in. We did not eat out. When Ruanita was weak on Friday night, I was strong and stood my ground. When I was weak on Saturday and would have happily traded my youngest child for some Kung Pao chicken and a vegetarian egg roll, Ruanita was strong and held her ground. Last night, when we both were feeling weak—with homework and baths and bedtime looming on the horizon—it took a modern day miracle to keep us from eating out. But we somehow managed. Perhaps it was divine intervention. Whatever the reason, we somehow managed to obtain an unattainable goal this weekend. The Holy Grail of budgetary bliss. We made three breakfasts, three lunches, and three dinners. At home. Utilizing our own pots, pans, and utensils. Cooking fresh, homemade fair purchased from the grocery rather than a restaurant. This is going to be our new reality. From this point on, we are limiting our eating out and cooking healthier meals at home. We are making changes for the benefit of our health and our finances.

Frankly, I don't like it.


Anonymous said...

I don't blame you for not liking it but it is good for you. You are pioneers again. I salute you. Treat yourself every once in a while so you don't start to hate the idea more and more. Love your stories.

Barb said...

Awesome! You'll love all the extra money laying around, and you'll feel better without all that extra MSG and butter in your system. I have been doing a little more driving-thru for meals than I used to as I'm exhausted with the no sleep at the end of the day. Thanks for the reminder not to get into a bad habit that will only be harder to break later. Congrats on a big accomplishment. I love how you worked together to make it happen.

Jessica said...

Congratulations! It is a big accomplishment. Remember, sometimes when you are weak, there are some really quick and easy meals at home--pasta with a jar of sauce, sandwiches (not just for lunch anymore!), and our favorite, brinner. ;) We made this switch a long time ago. I remember it being a shock, but so worth it.

The other nice thing is that you can save up that eating out money and go to nice places when you DO go out instead of wasting a lot of money on frequent crap.

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