What’s it like to give up restaurants for 100 Days?
I had been trying to decide how best to let you know about the results of our 100 Day Challenge. See, almost every day has been a challenge and a learning experience. Finally, I decided I would just journal a little bit each day and share with you the highlights.
The first two weeks or so were incredibly easy. Taking the option (of eating out) off the table somehow simplified things. We just knew what was coming next. Then….
Day 12: I’m getting tired of having to make dinner every night. Y’all, how spoiled am I? I disgust myself. There are people all throughout history and all throughout the world who would be thrilled, THRILLED, with my situation. Reheat some ham, boil some peas, throw together some cornbread….this will take me 15 minutes or less of active prep time. It’s not like that’s a lot to ask for the benefit of, you know, eating. Yet here I am, whining about it. I just want to go get something…. wah!
Day 13: I don’t wanna. I just don’t feel inspired to cook tonight. It’s weird, like, I don’t even want to throw the frozen lasagna in the oven. I thought maybe it was the creative process of cooking that I was burned out on, but it’s not that or a frozen lasagna would surely work. I looked at the plates in the cabinet and counted to be sure there were enough clean ones for dinner tonight. And I just didn’t want to deal with them. I’m genuinely surprised by this feeling. I think I always saw restaurants, even drive-thru, as my treat, my night off. It’s like I have to work late every night. This is so pathetic.
Day 14: Last night, when I didn’t want to cook, I forced myself into the kitchen. I thawed some frozen spaghetti sauce I made who knows how long ago, and put on some water to boil pasta. There wasn’t nearly as much spaghetti as I thought. I wasn’t sure it was going to stretch for 6 people. Then, I went to tend to my boy and when I came back to the stove, the sauce was burned to the bottom of the pan. I wanted to cry. My husband was on his way home from work. I really wanted to call him and say “please pick up some McDonald’s on the way home, there’s no supper here.” But I didn’t. I served the burned-sauce-not-enough spaghetti to my kids. “This is the new version of McDonald’s,” I said. I gave them each a decent portion and gave my husband and me smaller portions. I figured I would cook us some scrambled eggs or something after the kids went to bed.
As I looked at my tiny portion of unappetizing spaghetti, I forced gratitude. I knew I should be thankful that we have food and that this choice to eat a less than perfect meal was, in fact, a choice for us. Gosh, we are blessed. “Thank you, Lord for this food,” I prayed aloud.
My tiny-for-her-age 5-year-old looked around and said, “And God bless us, everyone!”
If these shadows remain unaltered by the future, we’re going to have a lot of pitiful suppers.
Day 15: We were going to be out during the early evening, so I prepared ahead of time by putting a roast in the crock pot and peeling and cutting up potatoes. I left them in some salted water with a tiny splash of vinegar to prevent browning. When I got home, I turned on the stove as soon as I walked in the door. While the potatoes boiled, I made a gravy for the roast and heated canned green beans. In hardly any time at all we had a meal fit for a king! Score one for Mommy!
Day 19: I asked my oldest daughter to set out some chicken to thaw. I was working at the computer so I had her look me in the eye and confirm that she did know how to do what I was asking her to do. I explained just in case: Put 4 chicken breasts in a glass bowl or dish and put it in the sink with just a little trickle of water on it. Got it? “Got it!”
An hour later, I went in to make dinner and found a 13×9″ casserole dish askew in the sink barely confining not four, but eight, semi-frozen chicken breasts with warm water dripping on them! I don’t know if you’ve ever thawed meat this way, but what happens is, if the meat isn’t submerged, it doesn’t thaw. So the one chicken breast under the warm water was practically cooked while others were a solid as a rock!
I can’t cook this! We have to go out. I don’t have anything else thawed. Forget the challenge! I’m in the mood for a burger anyway!
Not willing to give up, but not able so see a solution, I sat in despair and stared at my kitchen which looked back with waiting expectations. “What? I’m sorry, you’re not working for me tonight.” I may be the only person in history to mentally address her kitchen.
My husband walked in to save me. “Don’t we have eggs? Is there something you could do with eggs?” MY HERO!
“Yes!” I exclaimed. “Eggs are fast! I could do breakfast burritos. I have some sausage in the fridge. Ooh, or biscuits and gravy. ”
Yeah, biscuits and gravy.
If I hoped that this no-eating-out challenge was going to benefit my waistline, I was sorely mistaken.
Day 20: Today I was PREPARED! See, I thawed a bunch of chicken breasts last night, so they were ready to go today. (heehee)
I started early in the evening, while the sun was still up, so I could photograph my homemade chicken strips to share with you. Last week, they were so perfect and delicious that I knew you just HAD to have this easy recipe.
In my determination for creating a Pinterest-worthy image, I ruined my chicken. They weren’t browning. They were done and delicious, but not pretty. No one reads a recipe online unless it has a pretty picture. I won’t get into the gritty details of how I tried to brown them, but they weren’t good eats when I was done.
Do you want a recipe for some really tasty, but not so beautiful, chicken strips?
Day 21: It’s still early in the day. It’s dance day. We’ll be spending most of the afternoon at ballet class, and I’ll be unable to get supper on the table at a decent time if I don’t prepare in advance. I’m thinking crock-pot chicken tacos. It’s my favorite crock-pot meal.
What have I learned in the first three weeks of the challenge?
Well, for one thing, I know that it takes longer than 21 days to break a bad habit! Maybe 21 days will create a new habit like flossing every night or putting on your face cream before bed, but it sure isn’t long enough to break years of thought patterns related to convenience-seeking. We’re hard-wired to look for the easiest solution to a problem. The easiest solution to feeding your family is to get in the car and let someone else prepare it for you. Right?
We’ve also learned that not eating out has SIMPLIFIED our evening routines! Is that possible? Yes! We actually have found more time and more peace because we know what’s coming. We are establishing the rhythms that I so desperately wanted in our home. I had no idea that no eating out was the solution. I’m still skeptical. I’ll update more on that in a few weeks.
There have been at least three times when I really thought, “we have to go out tonight” like the other day when the chicken wasn’t thawed. That comes to about once a week. If only we had been eating out just once a week! I know it was far too often before. That’s the pattern we had to change. And it’s going to take us every bit of 100 Days to make those changes. I really hope 100 Days is ALL it takes!