101 in 1001 #11: Go 30 days without eating out.


I know I’m not the only person who has essentially spent the weeks between Thanksgiving and, well, today on a moderately tipsy, cheese-covered sugar high. Every time early January rolls around I end up a little depressed and angsty, and although I usually blame it on the holiday season ending, part of me knows that it’s also largely due to the fact that I have put nothing but crap in my body for the last month-plus. This year it feels even worse, fresh off our Arizona trip where we played my favorite game, “Take ALL THE SHOTS,” and chased them with In’N’Out (oh my god, so good, SO good!). Add to that the fact that I've spent an absurd amount of money lately, and a lot of that has been on food and, worse, alcohol. Long story short, the minute my plane landed in Minneapolis tonight, I knew I needed to make a major reset in that department. 

January is always a kind of odd month for me. It’s the busiest time of year at work, it’s dark and cold and miserable, and it falls between December (holidays, duh, I love) and February (my birthday, duh, also love). What better time to go hardcore on checking off a goal? Last year, I didn’t shop for a month, and it felt really good financially and sartorially to check out for a little bit there. This year, I’m giving up eating out for 30 days, and am planning to chronicle it in the same way as last year…day by day, as interesting things happen. I started a bit late due to the aforementioned Phoenix trip, but am planning on eating in from January 5 to February 4 to make up for it. Hopefully by February 5, things will be feeling better (my skinny jeans) and my bank account will appreciate the lack of appetizers and alcohol!  

1/9:I'm realizing just how much of my social life centers around eating out...specifically, brunch and happy hour. I'm very guilty of doing the whole happy hour "apps for dinner" thing, and obviously I have a serious love affair on with brunch. 

1/10:Cooking! It's a good thing to do, as atrocious as I am at it. I think I'm going to take this opportunity to check off my crockpot challenge as well, starting today with stuffed peppers. Here goes nothing! 

1/12:Planned an alternative to brunch/happy hour with Hannah...watching "The Bachelor" with wine at my place! It'll be nice to catch up with her and stay in doing so. I also need to get something on the calendar with Claire and Kelsie...I haven't seen either of them forever. 

1/14:Funny thing I noticed this morning while getting ready: my skin is WAY clearer than it would normally be at this time of the month/year. Winter wreaks havoc on my face at all times and I am wishfully attributing the change to less gin/restaurant food and more fruit/veggies. Interesting side effect of eating in is that my dairy intake is way down too...I use almond milk for my smoothie every day and haven't been adding a ton of cheese to what I'm cooking. Maybe that's it? I don't know, but either way, I'm liking it! 

1/17: I cheated. My mom and I had tickets to the Guthrie to see "Pericles," and we went to Parlour for cocktails and split a burger. Oh the shame and ignominy! I'm justifying it by claiming that since I didn't foot the bill, I technically am still holding to the financial side of things, if not the "make healthy choices" spirit I struck out in. Shameful. That burger, though...worth it! 

1/19: I'll be going out tonight, but not eating out, as part of the Notre Dame Club of Minnesota's "Pericles" outing (that's right, I'm seeing it twice in three days!). The club is hosting a pre-show get together at Day Block Brewing, so I'll plan to head over there to socialize without falling into my usual happy hour habits. I'm finding it much easier than I expected to strike balances like this, and that's gratifying. 

1/22: I hosted Eva last night and am having Hannah over tonight for an evening in featuring a taco bar and homemade margaritas! Proof that I don't need to go out to maintain a great social life. Plus, with temps as cold as they've been lately, it's well worth it to stay in. 

1/27: An uneventful but lovely week of staying in and doing a ton of cooking. I'm making lunch every night for the next day before bed...which is such a little thing, but it's so great to just grab it and go in the morning. Instead of my 2015 "mid-morning coffee run" habit, I've been drinking smoothies at work with protein powder and a shit-ton of spinach in them. They look gross but taste really good...if I close my eyes! 

1/31: I cheated, again, but have absolutely zero shame as it was my early birthday brunch with my parents! They'll be in Florida on the 11th, so they took me to my very favorite restaurant in the Twin Cities, Spoon and Stable. Again, I didn't foot the bill, and the croque madame and pastries were so over-the-top delicious that I have NO REGRETS. 

2/2: Went home from the office early in a blizzard and cooked a giant crockpot of soup for the next week's lunches! I think that, even though I'm excited to give myself the option of brunch and happy hour again, the "no lunch out" thing is going to be a great change for me. Hopefully this habit sticks! 

2/3: MADE IT. Celebrated by going out to a pre-Anthro birthday party dinner with Jodester at Mozza Mia for sinfully delicious caprese and panzanella. 

Lessons learned: 

--Preparation is key. I found that having a ton of food on hand and ready to go at home made going out way less tempting...especially thinking about food spoiling after spending so much to have fresh produce on hand. 

--Similarly, variety matters. I started the month eating the same lunches and dinners repeatedly and got really bored. It was fun to strike out of my kitchen comfort zone and try new things--I found a few fantastic new recipes that will be in rotation going forward for sure! 

--Be up-front with friends. I just told the people I wanted to see that going out to eat wasn't an option, and everyone was lovely about it (and more than willing to stay in!). I think often I choose the convenience of meeting up with someone at a bar or restaurant over the perceived hassle of hosting, when really, it's absolutely heavenly to be able to stay in, wear leggings and drink my own wine with my favorite people. 

All in all, great success! Eating out just twice in 30 days is a massive, major change for me and I'm really glad I checked this one off to start 2016 off on the right foot. For more 101 in 1001, head here, and if anyone's in the mood to stay in with me, I'm totally up for keeping the stay-in train going!