A progress report

When I announced that I was trying again on my “Eating In Challenge”, I mentioned that I’d had questions about if drinking out was okay, or if I would accept a restaurant meal paid for by someone else, and that I’d come to the conclusion that “no” was the appropriate answer for these things.

So, first a confession. I’ve already gone out to a bar for drinks. I went out with a friend for a few beers after she had dinner at our house. I’m surprisingly comfortable with this. I had said “no” to drinks out because they lead to food out. This very much did not – we had a solid meal at home, then went out for drinks and had only a couple of beers. So while I will still be very cautious about “drinking out”, I found I am okay with a more planned excursion. Namely, one that I know will not result in eating out.

Second, a progress report. I am a week into this challenge, have been tempted to eat out at least three times in that time, and I have not eaten out once yet. I’m pretty pleased with this. I’m especially pleased because the start of this challenge was timed poorly, and I still made it work.

I should have started this challenge Monday the 16th, I think, rather than last Wednesday. I started it on the 11th because Bill and I were going to be out of town until the evening of the 10th. I wasn’t going to try to demand we eat “in” on a travel day, but the next day seemed perfectly do-able.

It turned out to be do-able, but it was rather difficult, and the difficulty was largely my own damn fault. First, Bill had been out of town for five days prior to my leaving to meet him. I don’t tend to cook much when Bill’s not around, but I also don’t tend to eat out. Basically (and this is true of my daily lunches, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts), when Bill’s not around, I tend to eat easy food that’s in the house. I minimize the number of dishes I have to wash, and eat kind of weirdly. Second, I intentionally wanted to eat down the freezers, fridge and (to a lesser extent) the pantry. It’s never any good to have food go bad while you’re gone. Finally, I had laid in a store of easy to reheat food, but didn’t think about the fact that I’d have a house-sitter and told her to eat it (which, thankfully, she did since she wasn’t charging us to stay at our place).

In other words, we got back to a fairly barren apartment. Which would have been fine, actually, except I’d agreed to volunteer at Girl Scouts for five or six hours, two straight days. The first two days we were back.

I didn’t consider the fact that to “eat in”, we’d need to have food in the house. Ingredients, at least. Like, say, milk. Whoops.

I also didn’t consider that after five to six hours on my feet, dealing with about 30 fifth graders at a time, I really wasn’t going to be in the mood to do any meal planning or grocery shopping. Double whoops.

Let’s just say that Wednesday and Thursday of last week were quite challenging. I did, Wednesday, manage to buy milk and toilet paper, but that was it. And probably only because both stores were on the way home.

So, here’s what I did for the first two days of the challenge.

Wednesday was helped, I admit, in that I knew I had appropriate dinner plans that evening, doing the last Soup and Bread event of the season, specifically to support my friend Ellen and her friend Grant in their new project, One Hundred Meals, and I knew I’d be eating at least their soup1. I felt comfortable with this as eating “in”. All of the soups are homemade (see the link) and donated by their makers, which I feel falls into the same category as, “going to a friend’s house for a meal he or she personally prepared”, even if the location was a bar2. I did not, for the record, have any drinks there. I brought my water bottle and had that. I did make a donation while there to their current charity. Bill said he’d eat my Thai leftovers from the night before (the night we arrived), so Wednesday dinner was taken care of.

Thursday, Bill’s company was feeding the employees, so I only had to feed myself. The Downtown Farmstand had tweeted on Wednesday that they’d have ramps in stock on Thursday, and I had never had them. Everyone I know who has had them raves about their amazing awesomeness. So I decided, “Screw it. I’ll go plan dinner with ramps from Downtown Farmstand.” I got there moments after the ramp delivery, saw that they had crimini mushrooms on half price, had fresh cream from my favorite dairy, and decided, “Know what sounds good? Pasta in a cream sauce with ramps and mushrooms, and a salad on the side.”

Which, of course, means I bought all that stuff, told Bill about it via IM, and he decided he wanted in on the ramp action. So that got moved to Friday night with a couple of friends. This turned out to be a good thing, as apparently all my traveling and volunteering caught up with me Thursday night, and so rather than eat dinner I collapsed into bed at 7:30 pm and slept for twelve or so hours. Maybe more. I suppose that’s not technically eating in, but it’s very much not eating out either. I have no idea what Bill ate, though. Probably he just snacked on some of the snacks we had around the house.

Friday and Sunday, I did all the grocery shopping I needed for the weekend meals, and now we’re back to being in good shape for this challenge.

fn1. If you’d like, you can read about the One Hundred Meals “soft launch” at Soup and Bread here. See if you can find yours truly in the second photo!

fn2. If you disagree with this being eating “in”, please let me know why in the comments! Friday’s post is all about the challenges I still didn’t foresee, so it will all go very well together.