While most of us don’t believe we’re out of the recession , no matter what the statistics say, we can all agree that we made a few sacrifices over the last year and a half. Some have made a lot of sacrifices. One of the things my wife and I cut back on was dining out. We would go out to restaurants several times a week, not counting weekend festivities with our friends. For a dual income, no kid household, it’s not uncommon because our other expenses are generally low. However, with the uncertainty of the recession and my wife starting a PhD program, we thought that cutting back on one of our largest expenses was a smart idea and we believe the changes will stick even after the economy truly recovers.
We decided to cut back for health reasons too. We weren’t eating at unhealthy places (our favorite was a local Vietnamese noodle Pho restaurant) but anytime you eat out, you are almost guaranteed to eat far more calories than at home. By cooking at home, you control what goes into your food and you’re more likely to serve more reasonable portions.
A side benefit of cooking more at home is that we’ve experimented more with some fun recipes. Some highlights include our Homemade Provençal Rack of Lamb  earlier this year and the occasional homemade dumpling  (by the way, I’m getting hungry writing this… so don’t click through unless you’ve eaten!), but more importantly we’ve added a lot of recipes to our “list of dishes we liked that we can make from memory.” I think it’s crucial for you to build up that portfolio of dishes because you’re less likely to go to a restaurant if you have a few things you can make yourself.
Finally, we found that cooking together is fun. We get to experiment, make mistakes, substitute ingredients we think we’d like more, and otherwise just have a great time spending time together working towards a fairly simple goal. We made the Provençal Rack of Lamb on a whim and lucked out that we didn’t mess it up on the first try. 🙂 But had we screwed it up, no worries, we can always try again! (if you love eating out, you can always try to make it at home using what are known as “copy cat recipes,” just do a Google search)
Because of all those reasons, I’m pretty sure we’ll continue to cook more and eat out less even after the recession ends. It’s morphed from a “save money, save calories” decision to a “wow this is a lot of fun.”
Has something like that happened with you? Maybe you cut off cable television service for financial reasons and found a plethora of alternatives you liked better? Or maybe you went from two cars to one and found you liked that arrangement better? I’d love to hear it because then we could all give it a try.
(Photo: avlxyz )