A Low Non-Consumer Moment

by Katy on June 21, 2009 · 17 comments


Most of the time, I am happy to live the Non-Consumer life. I’m happy to be part of The Compact, (buy nothing new) I’m happy to vacation close to home and I’m happy to cook from scratch. I feel no deprivation whatsoever.

But tonight brought a few minutes of self-pitying wanton desire for a nice sit-down restaurant meal.

Not only was today Father’s day, but we also welcomed a British soccer coach into our home for the week. And I wanted to make a nice meal that would honor both my husband and our house guest. I saw that chicken breasts were on sale at the grocery store for 99 cents per pound, so I nipped over to the store to pick up a packet. These were not the boneless, skinless ones we usually buy, but I brought them home anyway.

Eh, big deal . . . what’s the difference?

Well . . . the skin on the chicken will dramatically catch on fire when barbecued for starters. This not only chars the chicken into a carcinogenic lump of coal, but also singes the front of my hair into a less than attractive hair don’t.

Oy vey!

I stood over the kitchen sink scraping the skin, desperately trying to salvage this now embarrassing meal.

And then it came to me — it sure would be nice to bag this catastrophe and head out to one of the many fabulous restaurants that dot my neighborhood.

And it wasn’t even the money that stopped me. It wasn’t all the work I’d already put into the meal, (table set, side dishes prepared and on serving platters, water glasses filled.) It was the time constraint. It was now 7:30 P.M., and my husband had to leave for work at 8:30 P.M. There simply wasn’t time to eat out.

We did eat the horrible chicken and somehow survived. The British soccer coach had the good manners to actually compliment the meal, bless his heart. And I’m thinking maybe we can plan a meal out when we can actually linger and enjoy the experience. I might even go to restaurant.com and get one of those cheap-o gift certificates.

I just hope it happens before headbands go out of style.

Are you eating out less than in years past? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out make it do or do without.”

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristen@TheFrugalGirl June 22, 2009 at 6:13 am

Oh no! I’m sorry to hear about your hair.

When I grill chicken with the skin on it, I try to cook it over indirect heat until the fat has rendered. and I only know to do that because Cook’s Illustrated suggested that. lol It reduces flare-ups in a wonderful way!

I totally understand the temptation to eat out, though, that’s for sure. Sometimes I just am plain out tired of cooking, but I usually manage to keep soldiering on when I remember how much it costs to take 6 people out even for fast food.


Jan June 22, 2009 at 6:37 am

When I cook chicken that is not boneless, I place the pieces in a pan covered with foil. Bake at 400 degrees in the oven for about an hour. The chicken is then ready to just throw on the grill with a little barbecue sauce- 10 min. tops. It is so easy and very tender. It is very easy and cheap to cook for a crowd this way as well.


fairydust June 22, 2009 at 7:57 am

I’m so sorry this happened – it often seems like the worst accidents happen when there’s more at stake (if you hadn’t had a guest and time constraints, it wouldn’t have seemed so bad, probably). But hey, it makes a good story and you’ll laugh about it at some point (“Remember when I put the chicken with the skin on the grill that time?!?” LOL!).

Right now, restaurant.com has their certs on sale for 80% off – it’s a good time to get a couple šŸ™‚


Sierra June 22, 2009 at 8:58 am

Kate, so sorry to hear about your hair! Thanks for the restaurant.com tip though – I love eating out, and it’s a rare treat these days.


calimama June 22, 2009 at 9:25 am

I think that’s why they say never to make anything for the first time for guests. I am cursed to even have favorite meals go awry when I’m trying to cook for others!

I highly recommend the Restaurant.com gift certs. Especially if they’re 80% off. We got a couple to have on hand for when people come to visit and for those times I’m just not up to cooking after coming home with a newborn.

It is a rare treat to go out anymore, made even more better when we save so much money doing it!


Meg from FruWiki June 22, 2009 at 11:01 am

I have no problem with the occasional restaurant trip so long as you can afford it. It’s when it becomes a habit that it is a problem.

Go to a locally-owned restaurant — regardless of the deals you might find at big chains. A lot of them are hurting right now and they can’t weather the storm as easily chains can. And patronizing them is much better for the local economy. If you can, find one that also uses more local ingredients and/or tries to be greener.

Then, eat slowly, relax, enjoy. Invite friends. Make it a long, pleasurable evening like the French do, not some rushed guilty thing as we do here.


Sandy June 22, 2009 at 11:02 am

I’m embarassed to say that I am having a lot of difficulty with this very problem. My difficulty is not so much with eating out, as it is with takeout. I blogged about Father’s Day Sabotage when I came home to find a horrifying surprise in my frig. I am at a loss, I don’t know where to turn! HELP!


Gena June 22, 2009 at 5:38 pm

What a fiasco!
When we decided to start tracking our spending/budgeting/going green/being better people etc, we decided to limit ourselves to one restaurant meal per week. And then after a few months, we decided to test ourselves and didn’t eat out for a whole month.

Since that point, we now go out to eat about once every 2 weeks, either for a weekend breakfast or a mid-week night out. We always go to local restaurants and try to go to those we know use in-season and local ingredients. Going out to eat has now become a treat, instead of the usual.


Tara Morrison June 22, 2009 at 5:56 pm

Pre-children my husband and I did eat out more frequently than we do now. Though we never ate at restaurants that served food I could easily cook at home( I am a chef). So when we went or go out it is for something to time consuming or labor intensive for me to make at home. It is not that fun to take a bunch of kids to a restaurant, so we don’t go out often . I do enjoy dining out with adults at local establishments bimonthly.


Julia June 22, 2009 at 8:00 pm

We are eating out more than often now because our house is for sale again. There have been many occasions recently where we have to leave for a showing at 5:00 p.m., so we have to get food out somewhere because 1) if I cooked before hand, the house would stink like food and 2) my son can’t wait till later to eat, that messes up his appetite and schedule way too much. So we try to go some place relatively cheap (a local shopping center with a food court filled with locally-owned restaurants, not a national fast food chain in sight, yay) or a locally owned restaurant (like the teriyaki joint down the street). We did go to the swank mall in our town last week (we had a showing and my husband needed to replace 2 pair of work shoes while they were on sale, sigh) and we ended up eating at the restaurant inside the Nordstrom store (upscale clothing store, started here in Seattle and all over the country now). My son loved it and kept referring to it as the “fancy restaurant” which cracked me up. Anything with cloth napkins (which we use at home, of course!) is fancy. He’s been in a real fancy restaurant about 2 times in his life. It’s hard for my son and me because we are vegetarians and restaurant food is a minefield—even if something sounds okay (like gnocchi with a wild mushroom sauce which was on the menu at Nordstrom), it’s probably not, because it’s made with chicken broth or there are other animal ingredients hidden in it (like anchovies in regular Caesar dressing, animal bones in Jello) etc. I hate spending this much on food and will rejoice when our house sells and we can make all the stinky food we want!!


Jacquelyn June 22, 2009 at 8:35 pm

We LOVE eating out, and we have definitely cut back on it over the last year. We still eat out, but it’s much less frequent. This has the benefit of making us appreciate it more when we get to do it.


Angela June 22, 2009 at 9:46 pm

Hey Katy- I’m so sorry to hear about your semi-fiasco with your guest. I hope you’ll believe me that people appreciate your thoughts and efforts so much more than the TASTE of the food. Plus, it may have been a good/funny story, that ends up being much more memorable than a delicious dinner. i.e.: the time my mom made a cake that caught on fire, or the Thanksgiving the dog pulled the turkey off the table- never forgotten.

That doesn’t mean it’s not traumatic for you, and I’m truly sorry about your hair, but your beautiful hair will grow back, and your guest will appreciate that you didn’t just turn him loose.

All that being said, one of my pleasures is an occasional meal out at a favorite restaurant. I don’t think it breaks the budget if it’s just you and your husband (occasional babysitter) and for me it’s much more appreciated when it’s a special treat and not a habit like some people do.

Oh, and one other thing- we’re going to be eating chicken less often, because the “sale” chicken with all the skin and bones- sorry, but it’s greasy and I’d rather eat the good stuff less often than deal with it.


Heidi June 23, 2009 at 3:20 am

We cut way back on eating out, now we only go maybe 6-8x/year. What I like to do is use my credit card to pay for necessary evils like auto insurance, then redeem the accumulated “points” for restaurant gift cards. Free meals! It limits us to places like TGIF, Chili’s or Outback, but my family doesn’t care. For me, I’m just happy to skip cooking once in a while.


Pat June 23, 2009 at 6:37 am

My husband, bless his heart, gets me a few restaurant gift cards for Christmas each year. He knows my favorites and I am always thrilled to get them. I can go out whenever I want with my friends or him. It’s a win-win situation and a gift I never return.


BarbS June 23, 2009 at 8:40 am

Oh, Katy, that sounds just terrible! I’m sure you’re recovered by now, but my heart goes out to you.

I picked up a few of those restaurant.com gift certificates — just couldn’t pass up the 80% off! On the soccer/lacrosse/Hebrew School nights, sometimes a pizza or a couple of grinders makes everyone less cranky (including me!). thanks for the tip.

But overall, I’m working on less takeout, fewer work-lunches bought, and more homemade food. It’s a slow evolution, but it’s moving in the right direction.


Cheryl June 23, 2009 at 11:13 am

Okay, so here’s where my paranoia actually works in my favour. I find I’m becoming increasingly squeamish about the safety of food cooked outside of my control. Viruses, contaminants, dirty hands….you get the picture. We eat out very little and I’m OK with that.


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