To dine in or to dine out, that is the question

For the last six months, I’ve been trying to prepare meals at home (1) to save money and (2) to eat the fresh vegetables from my local farmers’ market that are calling my name from my refrigerator.  I haven’t been as successful as I would like.  When it is time to go to the farmers’ market again, I still have vegetables in the fridge.

Why? Although I love to cook, I sometimes don’t feel motivated or inspired—don’t know what to cook that is simple, healthy, and tasty to both of us—so we go out.  We probably eat out once or twice a week now (used to be more), alone or with friends, also as a way to socialize.

I hadn’t thought about my dining-in “problem” until I started reading The Art of Eating In: How I Stopped Spending and Learned to Love the Stove by Cathy Erway.  Cathy decided to eat in—no restaurant food whatsoever—for two years while a twenty-something living in NYC.

I love a challenge, especially about what I eat. In 2005 at an environmental event, I signed up to eat locally for a month—only food grown or produced within 100 miles—to support local farmers and local businesses.  It wasn’t easy finding local sources.  So much of what I regularly bought, like pasta, came from other states or other countries!  A light bulb went on in my head: I began to realize the immense amount of fuel used to transport food around our globalized food system.

But the changes that I was making during the eat-local month addressed only part of the problem of eating locally.  While I was rigorously buying fresh, seasonal produce and other ingredients from within 100 miles, I continued to dine out in restaurants during that month. I’m sure that the restaurant food that I was eating had traveled over 1,000 miles to get to my plate. Now I realize that this new challenge that I’m considering is the next step toward eating locally—eating from my kitchen.

Eating locally is not the only reason that I’m thinking about taking the dine-in challenge.  I would like to have a bit more control about what I put in my body.  I am concerned about all of the information coming out about chemicals in our environment, in our food, and in our own selves.  Through the dine-in challenge, I believe that I can stem some of that toxic flow by eating food without pesticides, without chemical fertilizers, without hidden ingredients like salt and sugar, and without additives that I can’t pronounce and would never put on my pantry shelves.

What is making me hesitate to take the dine-in plunge?  What I do affects other people.  Breaking bread in a restaurant or cafe has been part of my social life as an individual and as part of a couple for as long as I can remember.  My thinking is to start my eat-in experiment on June 1, 2010, which gives me a bit of time to talk about this change with the people close to me.  I plan to record my thoughts and reactions about all this here in my blog (and yes, I will be setting up “rules” for my month-long challenge, so stay tuned).

If Cathy Erway could make the eat-in commitment for 730 days, I can certainly do it for a mere 30!

Your thoughts?  🙂


4 thoughts on “To dine in or to dine out, that is the question

    • You are “right on the money”! My newest blog post relates to both topics (cooking for friends and saving money).

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