Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The perils of eating out

SS4BC has declared her 2010 challenge to be 345 days without eating out. It's a fantastic goal, and I'd make it my own, except that it would be cheating - I've aready pretty much stopped eating out myself.

Weight Watchers sells a book with the point values of various foods at various restaurants, or you can get the information on the internet if you subscribe to their web services.

It blew my mind how much of the stuff I ate at restaurants was twice the points as cooking it myself, with half the taste.  I already knew that they were twice the price, but that hadn't stopped me:)

To keep myself from the restaurants, I've had to learn to make what I crave.  For instance, I adore Chinese.  So I keep a pound of frozen chicken and two pounds of broccoli in my freezer at all times.  That way I can easily satisfy my stir-fry cravings any time I want them, and I'm not desperate to buy a pile of greasy food.  If I must go to a Chinese restaurant, I fill up on hot and sour soup.  It's one of my favorite things, it's 2 points a cup, and its cheap.  Even if you order two bowls of it, you're not shelling out like you are for the all you can eat buffet (in points and dollars).

My mom loves pizza.  She makes her own whole-wheat crust pizzas with roasted red pepper, Canadian bacon, and olives four at a time, then freezes the three she doesn't eat that evening.  Once you've eaten that for a while, I assure you that you don't want what Dominoes puts out even if it's available.

My favorite book for figuring out how to cook what I used to purchase is Weight Watchers Take-Out Tonight! : 150+ Restaurant Favorites to Make at Home--All 8 POINTS or Less.   It might be a diet cookbook, but the foods don't come out tasting diet.  And this is a cookbook aimed at those who don't particularly want to cook, we just want to eat.  Even if you aren't doing Weight Watchers and could care less about the point values of food, this book is worth a read.  It covers Chinese, Mexican, Indian, Thai, Italian, Greek, Japanese and Deli foods.  I mostly make things from the Chinese and Mexican sections, because they are my favorites, and almost every recipe I have tried from the book was delicious (and even the couple of misses were still OK).

Once you get the trick of it, you won't be giving up as much time cooking as you think you might.  By the time you drive to the restaurant, order, wait for your food, eat, and pay - well, it's not quick.  Even ordering in pizza takes some time; get a pre-made crust, tomato sauce, some light cheese, and the toppings of your choice and go to town - save yourself calories and money.


  1. I will definitely be coming to you for advice!

    I have already started making some of the things that I love when I go out to eat: spicy fried rice, butter curry, sweet and sour chicken. I definitely will have to start expanding my recipe collection for the next year.

    BTW... I think it funny that you couldn't take this challenge because it would be cheating, and I couldn't take a "buy nothing for a year" challenge because to me that would be cheating. Which each have our own weaknesses, don't we?

  2. If there's a way that I can help, let me know, and I'd be delighted!

    What you said about challenges is SO true. If I tried to go a year without buying clothing ... so I just limit myself to a few really nice things 3-4 times a year, and the occasional splurge at Wal-mart. But I'd never be able to spend absolutely nothing - for me 95% of the fun of having lost 30 pounds is looking at myself in pretty clothing;)

  3. Hey thanks for the heads up on the WW's book for eating out for less than 8 points. that is really significant...

    I have to get back to lifetime, as I'm now 2 lbs over!

  4. My life has never been the same since I discovered the magic that occurs when you mix Thai curry paste and coconut milk :P

    My next goal is to try making wonton soup. I might start with frozen wontons, not sure if I'm up to making dumplings from scratch.

    Unfortunately, a lot of the stuff I like is quite ethnic and requires crazy ingredients and more cooking skill than I possess!