The Eat-In Challenge ends today. I was wishing a little bit for a Starbucks run when Nick went to the hardware store (yes, that is our usual agreement), but I held my composure and endured. We did end up stopping for sushi this past weekend after the race, but since we were allowed one "cheat," we still made it.
Here are some of the tricks and tips we used to keep on track:
- Make sure that you have easy breakfasts on hand, but breakfasts that still taste good. I stocked up on soy yogurt, had cereal for ohmygoshimrunningsolate mornings, pre-portioned frozen fruit for easy morning smoothies, and had a variety of freeze on the weekend, thaw overnight, bake in the morning items: cinnamon rolls, scones, and bagels.
- Have a lunch that you want to eat. Most of the days when I would typically have gone out to eat were days when the lunch that was packed from home just wasn't that appetizing. This month, I made sure that I packed something that I really wanted, so I looked forward to lunch and didn't want to run out for a sandwich from Panera. This does involve some planning ahead to make sure you have lunch menu items at home.
- Make the stuff you are craving at home. Panera has this chicken salad sandwich with grapes and almonds in it - and it is divine. I love it. But since it was eat-in month, when we had a bit of turkey leftover after making stock (yes, we bought another turkey, but that's another post), I made a turkey salad with grapes and almonds. Craving gone.
- Have a plan. I've been posting our meal plans weekly. We normally come up with this before we grocery shop so that we make sure we have everything we need for our recipes at home. This eliminates having to run to the grocery after work, or worse, while we are making dinner. 'Cuz ya'll know at that point, you start thinking that it would just be easier to pick up dinner instead of the missing ingredient.
- Stock your pantry. You don't have to go crazy, but if you have a few items that you can use in a pinch to come up with something just in case, it will make it that much easier to stay at home than to go out.
- Freeze as you go. You are cooking at home, so why not make a few more servings and just freeze them away (even easier: in an oven safe pan for easy reheating). Then on nights when you know you'll be at the office late, or you have yoga class, or whatever that excuse is that makes you want to go out to eat, you can just pull out the freezer meal (preferrably the night before to thaw in the fridge) and reheat. This doesn't work for everything, but baked pastas, soups, chilis, etc. are all great candidates for this technique. We usually make the 6 servings that the typical recipe calls for, eat two for dinner, freeze two for a dinner later, and have two set aside for lunch.
What are some of your tips for making eating at home easy?