Eating out and ordering delivery food went on my list of Not Allowed early in the planning for this project mainly because it’s not allowed in Not Buying It, which I used as a rough template. I modified this decision after considering that I do live in New York City, after all. Home to some of the finest restaurants and foods in the world. It would be a waste for me to live here a year and not dine out. On the other hand, I do spend a lot of money every month on average foods like pizza, Chinese take out, wraps, pastries, sweets, and coffee or tea from cafes. As I said, a lot. I needed to find a middle ground.
First, I eliminated delivery and take out foods. A year ago I stopped eating at fast food places (McD’s, Burger King, Subway, etc.), so they were already off the list. Though I would sorely miss it, I struck street food as well.
Cafes and coffee shops present a particular challenge for me. I’m a writer and I tend to hang out in these establishments for hours while I work. On a typical day I’d spend up to $15 on drinks and pastries alone. If I wanted real food, even more. Obviously this is unacceptable for this project. It remains to be seen how I will deal with this restriction.
Eliminating these foods alone should save me hundreds each month. And that leads right into what I am Allowed.
Though there are plenty (and I mean plenty) of great mid-priced restaurants in NYC that are very good, there are some places that are just fabulous and have fabulous prices to boot. Every now and then I get a chance to eat at one of these places, but often I cannot because I don’t have the money. Now that I’m freeing up some money, I’m going to choose one restaurant a month to splurge on. Some place with really great food that I’ve either been to before and love or a place I’ve wanted to go. A place I couldn’t afford because all of my money was going into $3/cup tea every 30 minutes. This way I won’t miss out on the culinary delights of the city and still save money.
I’m allowing myself two other exceptions. The first: Desert. In addition to great restaurants are great desert bars, bakeries, patisseries, and artisan sorbet parlors. Once a month I can indulge at one such place.
The second: once a month I attend a reading series/get-together and dinner. It’s a chance to meet with authors, editors, agents and friends in my genre. It’s partly about business, partly about making connections, and partly about meeting people interested in writing and reading. And the dinner after the reading never costs more than $20.
The goal is to cut my eating out expense from $100 – $140/ week to $150/month, if that.
This means more groceries and cooking in my future. I’ll have a reason to try some new recipes and perfect others. I’m a fairly good cook, so I doubt it will be a problem.
Though I will miss eating out with my friends, I’m looking forward to having dinner parties, instead. If I can get my friends to come all the way up to my apartment.
Could you give up eating out, fast food, and Starbucks for a year? Or even a month?