For many of us, going out to eat is so embedded in our day-to-day lives that we hardly think twice about it; whether it's grabbing a quick salad on your lunch break or catching up with friends over dinner, dining out is in many ways a staple of convenience and entertainment. Of course, it's also an easy way to accidentally put on a few pounds (most restaurants go heavy on the butter, oil, and salt) and run up your credit card bill.
After months of traveling and eating out for every meal, that's the exact situation writer Jennifer Rose Smith found herself in. "I had room serviced my way to a 10-pound weight gain—and I won't even mention the state of my bank account," she writes over on Camille Styles. Upon returning home, she decided to give up going out to eat for 35 days straight. In Smith's own words, this is what happened after over a month of cooking all her own meals.
She lost weight
"While I made a conscious effort to not buy junk food groceries, the simple decision to eat more meals at home led me to shed pounds naturally. I … was also eating cleaner, lighter meals. I also got back into going to spin class, so by the end of my five weeks, I had lost about eight pounds."
She saved around $350
"Eating five weeks' worth of meals at home made me realize just how much I was really spending on dining out. All those $10 to $15 lunch runs to my favorite sandwich and taco shops really add up. By the end of my five-week pledge, I estimated that I saved somewhere between $300 and $400."
She started to enjoy cooking
"My past attempts at getting into cooking were always short-lived. I would try out a few recipes and feel so overwhelmed with the process that I would give up after a few tries. The cool thing about my five-week challenge is that it forced me to stick with it. And just like working out or learning a new language, it quickly became a lot more fun once I started getting better at it."
Her social life got more interesting
"I'd often lamented that our entire social system revolves around eating together, so being on any sort of diet puts you in direct conflict with your own social life. Fortunately for me, my prediction couldn't have been more off. Instead of leaving me out of dinner plans, my friends got creative about fun things we could do together besides going to restaurants. By the end of the five weeks, I had gone bowling, seen a live play, had a picnic in the park, watched a backyard movie with a projector, and hosted people to grill out by my pool."
She found a meal plan rhythm
"As I mentioned before, past attempts at cooking left me feeling overwhelmed and often wasteful. Through trial and error, I finally found my rhythm with buying groceries: I’d buy one protein at a time (like a steak, salmon filet, or block of tofu) and figure out a way to 'accessorize' it with different sides for three different meals. So I might have salmon and roasted veggies one night, salmon with rice the next night, and salmon and grapefruit salad for lunch one day that week."
Head over to Camille Styles for more on Smith's experiment, and share your own experiences in the comments.