Washington DC is a underrated food city. Any food you want, we got it and it’s good! Lebanese, Greek, Ethiopian, American Burgers, Shakes, Ice Cream, you name it. Farmer’s Markets are open on the weekdays AND weekends. Food trucks park next to office buildings. We got Haagan Daaz, Sprinkles Cupcakes, Burger Tap & Shake, Chick Fil A, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, and an endless list of independent DC-exclusive restaurants. Did I mention I LOVE my city?
Lately, I’ve felt the overwhelming temptation to buy all of my meals outside of home instead of cooking. I mean, with all the food I just listed, can you blame me for feeling tempted? After a particularly expensive weekend of restaurant, I abstained from takeout food for five weekdays. I could only eat food from a grocery store (Giant, Whole Foods, etc). I couldn’t eat any meal or snack out, so I excluded restaurants AND cafes (not even Starbucks). Here are the biggest lessons learned from my experience:
Meal Prep is essential. In order for me to have food to eat throughout the week without eating out, I had to cook almost all of my meals in advance. (ain’t nobody got the time and energy to cook after work) On Sunday and Monday night, I meal prepped rice, chicken breasts, and green beans. Another night I made alfredo pesto pasta in bulk. I sectioned out pita chips and a box of brownies and pre-cut cucumber slices for snacks. Let’s just say I had an embarrassing amount of tupperware in the office fridge.
This was quite a bit of cooking for me. Granted, I’ve become a decent cook over the summer. (meaning I can do balanced meals – more than mac and cheese and ramen) I’m better than this funny Buzzfeed video if you want a laugh. If I had not made food ahead of time, I would not have been able to do this challenge. By the end of the week, I had to go out of my way for a grocery store for dinner.
Some days, it was downright inconvenient. 3 of the five days I did not go home right after work, so I didn’t have the opportunity to cook my meals. In order to eat dinner, I had to meal prep before and bring dinner with me to work. But then posed the problem: where was I supposed to eat dinner? I couldn’t go to a cafe to eat my meal because you have to buy something to sit there. One night, I ate dinner early while I was still at work at 5pm. By the end of the week, I didn’t have enough food meal prepped to bring dinner. By Thursday, I had to take the metro out of my way to get to a Whole Foods.
I visited the grocery store almost every day instead of 2-3 times a week. I can’t buy groceries in bulk because I live in a dorm with a mini fridge. Meal prep is quite a challenge with only a shelf of fridge space and no freezer, but I make it work. (considering myself a meal prep pro now) Since I cooked more this week, I had to go to the grocery store more often. During the week I did not have the time to go to the Giant that’s farther away. Often times, I had to go to the closest grocery store possible, which for me is Whole Foods, and spent more money.
But I saved $$$. The obvious benefit from this fast: the extra money I spent outside of my grocery budget still did not amount to my normal takeout budget. In the end, I spent less money on food than normal.
Every Starbucks, Panera, etc was calling my name. The temptation only got stronger every time I passed a Starbucks. The SMELLS killed me! All the coffee, croissants, and pizza on every block. I walked into CVS for floss and got caught in the chip aisle. Ooooh, I had to call on the Holy Spirit to give me strength against the devil of salty foods!
This would’ve been easier on the weekend. For me, a single college student working full time, it’s easier to abstain from eating out on the weekends because I have more time to cook my meals. I also can convince my friends to come over and cook a meal instead of going out.
Would I do this again? I now know I have the will power to resist takeout food. No matter how convenient and delicious it is. I can make a lot of that food at home, healthier and cheaper. So, yes, in the future I will try to abstain from takeout food during the week, but more so on the weekend when it’s easier. On weekdays, I will try to not buy lunch when it’s completely unnecessary. Sometimes you just have to eat your leftovers.
How did I break my fast? Soooo I kind of cheated and broke my fast on Friday afternoon. From 9am I’d been craving pizza, so you know I celebrated with Dominos!
If you’re reading this, you made it to the end of this post. Thanks for reading! I hope everyone has a great week! Eat healthy and prosper!
image credit: Stylecaster; check out their article on healthy takeout food!