Wednesday, March 03, 2010

One Small Change: Eating In Recap

Last month, my "one small change" was to eat dinner every night at home. The month was quite a success--more than I could have predicted.

There were a few rough spots, but not many. On one afternoon, I was craving take-out pizza as we came home from a day at the Smithsonian museums, but by dinnertime we were ready to spend the effort for a home-cooked meal. On the night where I could just not stand the idea of cooking at all, my partner David took over the complete preparations.

One evening, our 10yo son served us a lovely candlelight dinner. He played both chief cook and waiter. He was even the evening entertainment, serenading us with his violin. (He did not play the role of chief bottle-washer, unfortunately.)

We went to a party at friends' house one evening where we had vegan take-out from a locally-owned Middle Eastern restaurant in town. It was yummy and we did not feel like we were cheating at all. There is something about time with friends that changes all the rules.

On the last night of the month, I stayed home recovering from a stomach bug while my fiddling son and his Papa went to a local Scottish pub for a children's Irish music session. (As odd as it sounds, I suspect Irish and Scottish pubs in this country probably do a lot of crossing over....) Like eating at our friends' house, this meal seemed right, even though it technically broke the rules.

So what is it that made these seem like times to bend our self-imposed regulations? I think it is because both times we were after something special--not just the default position. A special event, a time of togetherness, a celebration--these are things I do not want to miss as time goes forward. Even a special meal--be it a cuisine I've never tasted, or a meal at a new downtown restaurant in our little inner suburb, or a feast at an organic or local restaurant--could certainly count. We have no intention of continuing this "one small change" in its extremity--but it has set us up to be more deliberate about our choices.

Of course, when I began to eat again after my stomach bug, it was March--and we immediately went out to my favorite Pho soup restaurant. (David chose a vegan dish, mostly to avoid what is probably CAFO meat. Sometimes, especially in the face of Pho, he is simply a better person than I am.)

I knew I had soul-mates on this eating-in journey, but I had no idea how many I would find. As I mentioned before, my initial inspiration came from The Conscious Shopper--but during the course of February, I also discovered Cathy Erway's blog and also her brand-new book The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove. To celebrate the release of the book, Huffington post sponsored The Week of Eating In--which drew an enormous number of other folks to the same challenge I was setting for myself. And what I thought might be a challenge that could isolate us introduced us to a whole new online community!

Tomorrow: One Small Change for March.


Adrienne said...

I am totally with you on the special occasions not counting. I eat out so very rarely that when I do, it's almost more in the category of "entertainment" than of "food", b/c I'm always with family or friends that I don't see often. It's not something I do as a matter of routine.

Now I just need to stop myself from getting prepared food from the local co-op frequently... it's cheaper than actually dining out and they tend to use seasonal/ sustainable ingredients, but it'd still be better if I just cooked at home.

CHo Meir said...

You went to the Smithsonian and didn't come to see me. I'm hurt.


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