Being a stay-at-home mom of 4 nutty children, I have found that some things have to slip by the wayside or get done less than I would like. Of course, it would be nice to have a made-from-scratch dinner every night, but that is just not going to happen at this point in my life. Priorities–try to squeeze in 2 hours of cooking dinner while the children nap, or read?… No doubt I will be reading, and I really do need it to help keep me human.
After a long day of diapers, errands, repeating myself for the 57th time that day, and emotional outbursts out of the children and myself, dinner hour can sneak up on me. When I am not prepared, the quick and easy answer is to go out to eat. This is what we used to way too often. It has become something we can no longer indulge in more than once a month or so because it is so expensive to feed our growing family of 6. Also, it is not really all that enjoyable to bring the circus to the restaurant and feel the irritated and pitying eyes on me, waiting for us to leave them in peace.
Another reason I cannot eat out much anymore is that I have been in lose-baby-weight mode. I was using MyFitnessPal.com and it really did help me become aware of how much I was eating so I could make better choices. One of the things it revealed to me was that going out for dinner, even while trying to eat less than I would want, usually causes me to consume a whole day’s worth of calories for just the one meal. This is not something you can do very often if you are trying to lose or maintain weight.
There are also health concerns about the ingredients in the foods we eat. If I prepare the food at home, I know what I have included, or at least know that I put some stuff in there that is less than desirable, and can maybe choose to use less of it. At a restaurant, you just don’t know what they are using in that eggplant parmesan dish, and if you did, may not choose to eat it. Restaurants want to make money, so they could be tempted to use the cheapest-but-still-good-tasting ingredient they can get away with. In other words, they are not motivated by your family’s health, but by the bottom line–they need to make it cheaply and want you to crave the food and come back so you spend more money.
For these reasons, we now aim to eat out only once a month, and when we do, we make it good. But in order to achieve this worthy goal, I needed to have a plan to fall back on for those days when I am just too tired, uninspired, needed something really quick to silence the chompers, or to get someone to football practice on time. If you have no plan or ideas, it is a lot more tempting to just go out and blow your budget–money-wise and calorie-wise. Just sit down ahead of time and make a list of all the things you can think of that could fit the bill and that you usually have the ingredients for on hand, or could get and keep them on hand for times like these. Some of the meals I use for the hungry hour when I have run out of steam or time include:
frozen pizza and bagged salad (don’t let perfect be the enemy of the better)
grilled cheese and tater tots
veggie wraps, chips, and fruit
breakfast for dinner
quesadillas and tortilla chips with salsa
There are are many good ideas out there. The idea is to have something so easy, so quick, and not unpopular so that when that fateful hour arrives, you are ready for it and can carry out the plan. Soon, you will break the habit of going out too much and will find it easier to achieve the goal you have set–to spend less money, lose more weight, and eat higher quality food by eating at home.