Jan 30, 2014

I Spoiled Us

We never go out to eat. We got in the habit awhile ago of eating at home and we stuck with it. It saved money and was healthier. It was just that simple. We do order pizza about two times a month and usually have a Chinese takeout night, but otherwise it is home cooking. I don't cook every single night. Occasionally Rob cooks, maybe one time a month at the most. We have leftover nights - although we don't have too many of these because Rob takes leftovers for lunch (another major money saver) and I have learned to cut recipes down so I'm not making food for an army when there is only three of us (and one of us doesn't eat a lot). Sometimes we have grilled cheese sandwich and apple slices for dinner (that's a favorite the hubs and the kid). We aren't all about five course meals. I cook fairly simple meals using whole foods and as little processed foods as possible.

I have grown to love cooking. I like learning new techniques and trying out new recipes. I like baking too, which is something I try to do because I love it but not often enough that we start gaining a lot of weight and feel crummy all the time from all the bake goods. But as a treat, it's fun to bake some dessert or bread. For dinners, however, it's a pretty basic setup: main entree (I actually have a system for that too, so we aren't eating the same proteins over and over, I plan one night of beef, one night of chicken, one night of fish/seafood, one night of pasta, one night of sausage, one night of pizza (either takeout or homemade), and one free night to make whatever duplicate protein that sounds good) and we have at least one side which is a vegetable and sometimes a second side of grains, usually in the form of rolls or bread if I was feeling like baking that day or really wanted crescent rolls.

Not too long ago, two weeks ago to be exact, I got it in my head (power of my own suggestion) that I wanted to go out to eat. I started talking about the place for a completely different reason and decided that that was the only thing that sounded good that day. It didn't take long to get Rob on board with me. Our already-in-place meal plan for the night was postponed for the next night and we headed out. Addison was in a good mood and I was feeling good about not cooking. It's a place that families tend to go, so I wasn't worried about the wait time or the food choices for Addie, even though we had never actually taken her there.

We got there early enough that there wasn't much of a dinner crowd yet for Saturday night and were seated immediately. Addison started playing with the crayons (which was a first) and we ordered. Everything was going great. We got our appetizer which led to Addison looking at us like we were just rude for eating when she wasn't. I let her try a few bites of my mozzarella stick then gave her some Cheerios to tide her over while we finished eating. But once she started eating she was ready to finish eating, but our meal was taking forever. We managed to distract our growing-upset child while we waited...and waited...and waited. Addison's patience was wearing thin as was mine. It took us almost forty minutes to get our food, which in toddler time is a really long time.

Once we got our food, I started immediately cutting up Addie's grilled cheese while Rob tried to figure out what of the chewy broccoli she could actually eat. Then once she was off and running, we started eating. I was almost immediately disappointed in my meal. What I had in my head was definitely not what this place was trying out to be. The more I ate, the more I knew for a fact that I could make this better at home. In fact everything that we each were eating I had made at home, and it was better. Rob even told me that my steaks were better - and I'm not expert at steaks (but I'm learning).

We were there a total of almost an hour and fifteen minutes. Not ideal. We left with our wallets much emptier (it's been so long since we've been to a restaurant, we really were shocked by the price) and none too pleased. The food was heavy in our stomachs and it just wasn't satisfying. Once we got in the car, I complained to the hubs about how I was feeling (which was nothing but displeasure). He chuckled a little then said "You spoiled us."

I understood instantly. I would complain about having to cook so much. It was frustrating. It was exhausting. But it made a huge difference in what we came to expect from food. And as I learned I'm a much better cook than I thought I was. I knew that I had grown as a cook. I knew that I had learned a lot. I knew that I had gotten better. I knew that I had some things that I could cook that tasted amazing. But I didn't think I would love my cooking more than going to a restaurant. Now granted I know that there are some restaurants that are amazing and there's no question. Maybe this particular one was having an off day (we won't be returning any time soon to see if that was the case or not). I also know that my cooking probably will never really be up to some restaurant standards as far a taste and skill.

But we learned that we prefer being at home. We prefer my cooking. Unfortunately it took us a night out and some money to figure that out. Oh well. Live and learn....

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