Sunday, October 12, 2008

Are you eating out less?

Yardsale was a complete success! I sold almost everything out and made a grand total of $234, which will go a long ways towards my black/white bedroom redo. YIPPEE!! And I had fun meeting a few blog friends too. A big hello goes out to Lorrie from TN, who was here visiting for the weekend and wanted to hit my yardsale. I'm SO glad she did. And also Leigh (from Tales from Bloggeritaville) stopped by. We have been emailing back and forth for awhile now, so it was great to meet her, yes finally (little bitty thing). Shout outs to Regina and Sally too who both live in the area and stopped by.
My neighbor, who owns a women's consignment boutique was also having her bi-annual yardsale with clothes that came from her shop. Now we are talking very nice clothes. So, I took my money down to her house to see what she had left. Oh, and I found plenty. She was so generous. I took all I wanted home with me to try on and came back to pay her...I got 15 things for $15!! Can you believe that. Many of these are brand new with the tags still on, since she gets closeouts from local boutiques. We are talking Anne Klein, J. Crew, Harolds, Ann Taylor and many other great brands. I feel like I have a whole new wardrobe. I called my friend, Debbie, to get in on the action and she came over and got 20 things for herself and her daughter. We were trying on clothes in my bedroom, throwing them around and exchanging with each was so fun. All in all...a very good day! Keep reading for the real topic for today....
After reading a recent article in our local Sunday paper, that got me thinking about the subject. Without a doubt, we are definitely eating out a LOT less than we used to. When we were dating in Atlanta, we hit our share of fine dining restaurants and enjoyed it thoroughly. But now, we are mostly stay at home folks and I cook a meal every night for dinner and we save the pricey restaurants for special occasions, like birthdays or anniversaries. I know our American society has long been on the eating out bandwagon, with busy schedules, kids' sports, and the just plain busy pace of our culture nowadays. This article really made some interesting points about how all that seems to be changing with our higher gas prices, as well as economic instability. Eating out is just plain more expensive and it seems that a lot more people are embracing home cooking with gusto. I think that's great!
This article is from The Associated Press by Ramit Plushnick-Masti and gave some interesting statistics about the subject:

Apparently there is a national trend to eat at home to save money. But after years of eating out, many people have found they don't have a pot to cook in or a cookbook to guide them. The sudden rush to buy basic cooking necessities has driven up sales of cookbooks, inexpensive cookware and the basic foods needed to concoct a meal. And cooking magazines and Web sites are booming even as magazine sales overall have suffered.

About 45% of Americans are eating out less this year to save money, a nearly 12% increase from 2007, according to consumer research.

Cookware sales overall have declined in the past year, but items selling for less than $100 are doing remarkably well. Further evidence is a boost in sales of "center store" items in supermarkets -- pasta, canned goods, baking goods and spices. Sales of such items have risen by 3.4% in recent months.

Bon Appetit, a magazine that serves up recipes for everything from gourmet meals to fast and easy dinners, said newsstand sales in May 2008 were up 39% from a year ago. And many bookstores have reported boosts in cookbook sales.

Because of the eating-in trend, some casual dining restaurants are taking a hit in stock price and sales. But, even cooking can be expensive and a survey on grocery sales found that about 30% of 1,000 consumers questioned said they were buying less fresh produce. Half said they were buying more generic brand products. And it looks like prices will keep rising, according to the US Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service. In February, the service forecast food prices will increase between 3 to 4% this year. Last year's 4% increase was the highest in 17 years.

So, where does that leave you and me? Are you joining the fairly new trend of cooking and eating at home or do you still go the easy route and eat out a lot of meals per week?

For us, we eat out maybe once a week together. And that is almost always a very inexpensive sort of meal. We are fortunate to have some very good locally owned restaurants nearby that are very reasonably priced, from seafood, to Mexican, BBQ, or a meat and 3 type place. I see many of you on your blogs talking about saving money on meals and cooking, so I know a lot of cooking at home is going on too. I will go out to lunch with girlfriends, maybe once a week or so, but the majority of our food is consumed at home. Cooking is without a doubt more cost effective than eating out. I'm always on the lookout for new recipes to try at home all the time, adding flavor and variety to our meals.

What are you doing to save money AND eat well at the same time? This is a subject that is not going to go away anytime soon, so let's see what all of you are doing to curtail the expense of eating out.

Here's to home cooking!

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51 friends stopped by:

Connie said...

I would have loved to been at your garage sale, but the 2,000 mile trip would have been a little too tiring for this ol' chick, honey!! I see some things there I definitely would have bought. I just redid an old antique desk for my new "PINK" office and it turned out well, sweets! Maybe I should look for old school stuff to put on it. Come over and take a look. I think you'll be enchanted! Hah........ ;-)

Bella Casa said...

Congratulations on the garage sale success and the great fashion bargains and also for meeting some great bloggers...would love to have their links so I can visit their blogs :)

We are definitely eating out less and less.

I honestly haven't found a way to save on food shopping yet, at least not in a big way. But I have switched over to laundry soap, fabric softener and dishwasher soap from The Dollar Tree..and I was a Tide/Downy/Electrasol sort of it was a big change for me...but in all honesty, I have not noticed a difference at all, so it works for me :)

I will look forward to the responses you get to this post, Rhoda :)

Have a great day!


Kitty Scraps said...

I bet you had some fabulous things at your yard sale, so jealous I don't live closer to you!

Our trend of eating at home has been going on for quite some time. I make a list of must have items then sort of concoct our weekly menu based off of what looks good and what's on sale when I reach the store, then I write up that menu and post it when I get home so everyone in the family knows what to expect for the upcoming week. If we do eat out it's definitely a very inexpensive meal.

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

I hate I missed that garage sale! I would have been there just for the fun of it all!

Lisa said...

We are definitely eatng out less. We use to eat out 3 or 4 times a week but now it is maybe once every other week. I am having to "think" more about cooking since we eat in more. It is nice for a change.

Carol said...

Sounds like you had a fun day on Saturday!

Yes, we are eating out less. I'm on a quest to see how many meals I can create from the pantry, freezer, & fridge! Also, I'm clipping coupons. I think it's going to be fun! (I hope!) :0)
Carol~in Oklahoma

Suzann @ Lavender and Roses said...

I am so happy to hear that your sale was a huge success! Those dresses you were able to purchase look just lovely too.

As for the food and eating out. We are definitely not eating out very much anymore. I cannot remember the last time we went out to one of our favorite grown up restaurants. I'm clipping lots of coupons, planning meals from sales, and having at least 2 meatless meals a week. (eggs, grilled cheese, waffles...) I also am buying meat in bulk and cooking in bulk to save time and money. Lots of foods freeze really well and on those nights when you're rushed, it works out perfect.

Great post - gets my mind a working.

salmagundi said...

For 45 years, we rarely ate out; then when my husband retired we started to eat out more. Now, we are going back to our old ways even though I don't enjoy cooking anymore. I still cook for 4 on those meals that freeze well; then we pull those out of the freezer when we have the urge to not cook and go out. Sally

The Quintessential Magpie (Sheila) said...

Glad your sale was a success, Rhoda, and that you found all those cute clothes for such a great price at your friend's!

In terms of eating out, we still eat out, but not as much. When we do eat out, we try and eat healthy. For fast food eating, we have a chain here in Florida called Crispers, and their soups are delicious as are their breads. They also have delicious salads and sandwiches.

We eat at fancier restaurants, too, but when we eat at home, we eat fairly simply. I have a huge stock of cookbooks (what Southern girl doesn't?), but I always like to have more. Only if they're good, though. Paula Dean cooks with sugar, but boy, is she good or what? Yum!

I have stainless steel cookware from Martha Stewart. You can find it at K-Mart at fair prices. I use stainless steel because I'm sort of a health foodie type, though I still do like sugar and such. ;-) I watch the labels (though not as much as I should) for things like preservatives, articificial ingredients, etc. I don't skimp on butter and eat the real thing. It's better for you.

And I always shop PUBLIX because I like quality. (Do you have Publix in Birmingham?) They have helpful employees and high standards, and they give to the community. I don't compromise on quality, even to save a penny.

Happy Sunday,


paintergal said...

We definitely eat out less and only because this town that we live in now has four restaurants. One of those is only open in the summer, another is a lunch diner, and another is a gas station/pizza place.
Life in the hicks, gotta love it! :)

Happy @ Home said...

Glad to hear that your sale was successful. Your neighbor's clothing sale looks like great fun.

I really enjoyed this post on eating out. I am sometimes surprised at how many people I know that don't cook and think eating at home means ordering pizza or KFC. I own lots of cookbooks and really do enjoy cooking and baking. However, sometimes it just seems easier to go out. My husband was recently in the hospital and since he came home I have been cooking every day and packing his lunches. I am rather enjoying it and find it satisfying to be using up what's on hand rather than throwing away food that I didn't get to before it spoiled. That right there is a way to cut costs on the grocery bill. I am also back to using coupons.

I look forward to what your readers have to say on this subject.

Lindenhaus said...

What cute clothes you found. How fun! We have never been big restaurtant people. I know it sounds crazy, but I am a little bit skittish about strangers preparing my food! One can never be sure about health and cleanliness standards! Also the expense. Beside, I do like cooking. I feel we eat well on a budget. For instance, last night we had marinated grilled steak (bought at $2.99/pound), my yummy homemade fries coated with olive oil and cooked on the grill, and steamed brussel sprouts. I would say this meal cost about $5 for the two of us. We have found that with our gas grill (We live in CA), we can prepare great tasting food all year long.

Sher's Creative Expressions said...

I'm so glad your garage sale was successful. . . I knew it would be all for sale were wonderful finds/buys for some lucky shopper.

We are eating at home a lot more than ever. It's cheaper, healthy and actually saves more time than driving (gas) to a restaurant, waiting for a table, waiting for food, etc.

Unfortunately, I think it has become just an "entertainment" thing for so many people. . . something to "do." Well, we've started eating at home and "doing other things!"

Love the clothes you bought for yourself as well.



Leigh said...

It was great to meet you Rhoda! I got some great buys as well from your friends garage sale. I am going to talk about my gems on my blog. Be sure and let me know when she does that again. I have been to her storefront and was excited to see it was her! GREAT buys!

I am so glad that you did well. I cant wait to see what the bedroom redo looks like!

I cook supper about 5-6 times a week. We do try and go out to eat one a week as a family. That is what my fmaily did when I was a kid. It was "special family time". I do hwoever, will lunch with girlfriends. I love to do that and discover some really good eats.

KMfamily said...

Its so funny that you posted this!

I just posted a cheap recipe for fall & thought to myself this is a great filler for the tummy & easy on the wallet

We are a family of 4 with only 1 income.I totally embrace home cooking!!!

Kristi said...

Our family is eating at home much more these days. I have also cut out eating out when I am at work (only 2 days a week). Glad to see we are part of the norm!

Darlene - Our Creative Life said...

We definitly go out to dinner less! We also share meals now when we do go out to eat. Portions at many places are so huge hubby & I split it & end up cutting our bill by 50% as well as saving our waistline from expanding! Did you know that the portion size in the US has increased dramatically & we are the fatest here in the US than any other nation.

Anonymous said...

Since I retired we are eating out less because I have more time to fix meals. I like eating at home. To me it is more comfortable and relaxing. We still go out for special occasions, and I do go out to lunch with the girls, but I really do enjoy eating at home. Congratulations on your yard sale.

Anonymous said...

Glad your garage sale was a success, I plan to have one soon myself. Extra $'s will help with holiday gift giving. Those new clothes are so nice, and will look great on you. Enjoyed reading article on eating out less, sure hope it encourages more home cooked meals. Eating out a lot sure will bust a budget. Home meals allow families to sit and talk more and food is a whole lot healthier. I remember growing up our family rarely ate out, and when we did it was a real treat.

justabeachkat said...

I wish I could have been your sale AND at your neighbors. Wow...what deals you got!

We're eating in a little more lately just trying to save, but maily to eat healthier. The gas prices haven't stopped us since we go to most by golf cart anyway.


Ivy Lane said...

I love your blog! We are definitely eating out LESS..we used to go out 3-4 times a week. We have really been enjoying staying in, and cooking at home. The local farmer's markets have such great seasonal produce for far less money... it is fun to experiment, eat fresh wholesome food and be in the sanctuary of HOME! :)

Carrie said...

Between what you were selling and what you bought, I am SO jealous!! What can't I be so lucky to find yardsales like the one in your neighborhood!?!?

And as far as the article on eating out. We have definitely been trying to eat out less.

I have foind that it helps a lot by menu planning. Even though coming up with new ideas is hard sometimes. Especially since my husband and I both work full time outside of the home, so we try to find decent "quick" meals.

Not doing very well as far as saving on the grocery bill but I figure the money we are saving by not eating out so much is definitely a step in the right direction. Now if I could only get better at the whole coupon thing.

Cottage Rose said...

Glad you had a great garage sale, and love all the clothes you bought from your friends. How lucky for you. I know what you mean about eating at home, I always cook at home more. It is just me and hubby, so sometimes it is hard to find something for just two of us, but I do try. I am not a fancy cook just plain, but it works for us.

Have a great week.

Pam said...

We are eating out less, sticking to a grocery budget and using coupons. With the budget and coupons we are saving $50-60 per week.

Shelia said...

Hi Rhoda and congratulations on your yardsale. But Woo Hoo on all the beautiful clothes you bot. What a deal!! But you're so small, you would look great in anything you put on!!
Well, I'm kinda like you. I cook every evening too. I do like to go out to dinner and we do that about twice a week, mostly on the weekends. But with grocery prices going up, I really don't know if I've saving any money. But I like to cook and have gotten some great recipes from right here in blogland.
Hope you've had a wonderful weekend and be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

Michelle said...

We're eating out less. This summer I've been able to find several Southern Living and Taste of Home cookbooks and have lots of great recipes.

Some things that have helped us cut our grocery bill: making our own detergent (only 5 cents a load vs. 33 cents a load using Tide), hanging clothes on the line (no dryer sheets or using electricity), using white vinegar as a natural fabric softener, buying meat in bulk when it's on sale (especially boneless skinless chicken). Toss a few chicken breasts into a ziploc bag with a favorite bottled dressing to marinade and put it in the freezer). Purchase in bulk from a food warehouse like Costco or B.J.'s. Purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from orchards where you can pick your own or fresh from the farm. Produce is fresher and most times cheaper.

Great deals on the yard sale! Wish our trip to Alabama would've been a week earlier so I could've come. Guess I'll have to settle for a stop at Hobby Lobby.

Ms. Tee said...

Congratulations on your yard sale and all those pretty clothes!

We don't eat out a whole lot, but when we do, it's usually for lunch on Sundays. Lunch menu items are generally a lot cheaper than dinner. For other things, I use store brands as much as possible, especially for things like milk, pasta noodles, coffee creamer, paper goods. It helps quite a bit with us. Have a great week! :)

Kristi said...

I would have LOVED to be at your garage sale!! Is there anything left that we can "shop" with? LOL!! And your new clothes are wonderful! Love finding deals like that!
I'm trying to get back into the swing of cooking now that the baby is here and things are getting back to normal. We usually eat pretty well, but when I was pregnant that went out the window a little bit, lol. But mostly organic and hardly any processed. I think I might start meal planning though for the week. I always say I'm going to do this, but I think this time I really will! :)

Kat said...

I knew your garage sale would be a huge success. LOVE the new outfits...SCORE!!!

sarah @ a beach cottage said...

oooh yeah I would have loved to be there at the sale, sounds like you did well, I'd be pleased with that amount of sales! maybe I should try it

what good bargains you got, great to have a neighbour like her

we have cut down our eating out since buying the Beach Cottage, amazing really how much money it saves, the last few months with the economic crisis I have taken this further and have really pulled in my grocery budget too making all that I can from scratch, not just meals but baking for the lunchboxes, making bread, once a month cooking for the freezer (altho I've always done that) etc etc...I'm part of a budget cooking forum that has some great tips and not just for money but saving time too

nice post Rhoda


Stacey said...

Rhoda, in our home we still eat out more than we intend to. We are still at the busy with teenagers stage and one or two nights a week it just seems that it's so much faster to grab a taco!

I have the best intentions but you know how that goes. I do believe that my blogging friends are wonderful inspiration for cooking though. Keep the recipes coming and I will try to share some too.

carolyn at cranberry crossings: said...

Congrats on your yardsale success AND your great clothing finds!
About eating out, we only do it about once a week. But we rarely ever go to expensive places. I cook every night, with the exception of our one night out. We have always had to live on a budget, so cooking has always been a way of life for us.

Catherine said...

I'm feeding two teenagers, so if we go out, it's a meal for four adults. That's about $75-$100 for ONE meal! I cook and save the eating out for special occasions. If I'm working, my kids cook or my husband cooks. My kids are always in the kitchen with me, so they can cook pretty well. They cook better than my husband, so they do the cooking when I'm working, although I try to have a casserole on hand for those time. Even on busy nights, we eat a simple meal at home.

I read that the size of average American dinner plate has doubled in size since the 1950's and portions at restaurants are triple the size we should be eating. I cook meals that have lots of veggies and use smaller portions of meat. I don't buy processed foods like frozen, pre-made dinners either. Those are expensive and contain lots of preservatives.

Susie Harris said...

Glad to hear that your yardsale was a huge sucess! Sorry I missed it...I bet you had some great goodies in there too... Maybe next time.

Farrell and Lauren said...

We started eating in on weeknights for health reasons, but now are really doing it for financial reasons also. I have definitely tightened the budget and am operating on a cash only basis when I go to the grocery store. We also go to more casual places when we do eat out on the weekends.

Anonymous said...

It sounds as if you had a fabulous sale! Congratulations.

As for eating out, it's funny that you mentioned this as I was working on a post earlier about going out. I just have to get it published! Eating out is something we do very little of and have for several years now.

First, I love to cook, so I don't see the need in eating out. I menu plan based on our schedules for the week and buy groceries with a list in hand and a budget set so it is much more economical for us.

Secondly, I have am so concerned (OK, so I am OCD) about other people's germs. I am so terrified that someone preparing my food is not clean and it really bothers me!

And third, even for fast food (which I detest) it takes nearly $30 to eat a meal out and if we go to Cracker Barrel or Applebees it is rare that we get out for under $55. If you grocery shop, you know exactly how far that kind of money goes! Instead of dinner out once, I am looking at dinner at home for 3 days! We spend about $150/week on groceries....two complete meals a day, seven days a week.

Now this isn't to say we don't go out. We often celebrate special occasions out as it is great to have a break from the kitchen or take the kids out for a fun treat. We just try to be practical when we do it and NOT make it a habit. I buy the little cards local schools sell here that give you 15% discounts or free items at local restaurants. We also like to go out at lunch time when they have lunch specials.
Great post! Now I need to finish mine. :)

It's Always Something Around Here said...

I love your blog!!!

We eat in almost all the time. I would say maybe 2 times a month we eat out. It is just easier and less expensive for me to cook. We don't live close to much so between that and the kids constant activities we eat at home. I don't mind cooking and usually plan out my meals for the week.

Reynie said...

We hardly ever eat out. We love to cook and it is our time together at night.

Liz said...

We dont eat out very much anymore. But.. Matt likes to cook and I love making desserts. We've come to love cooking at home on the weekends, it's fun.

Blushing hostess said...

We eat out the same as we did because I find it is not that idfficult to grow and prepare restaurant quality food. So, if we are out, it needs to be great and an experience, I won't spend money on franchise restaurants, it is just not appealing in any way to me. At lunch though I take my baby girl to an old spot by the sea which has great, fresh seafood and a perfect view. Honestly, those folks could throw old ham sandwiches on the plates, we love their porch so much! I mean, why bother if it is not a quality experience, right?

countrygirl3031 said...

Congrats on the garage did great! You also hauled away some goodies on the fashion front too!

We are definitely eating out when I cook, I try to make enough so that we have lunch for the next day too.

Have a great week!

Cindy ~ My Romantic Home said...

Wow, thats a great deal on clothes! $1 each!

We have been eating out more in the last year than we used to but within the last month or so I've cut back. This economy is really scarey now.

Sandi McBride said...

We eat out once a week...on Date NIght Friday...other than that we eat lots of home grown's the only way to go
Great Post


Afternoon :)
I'm catching up with reading blogs:)
so, the hutch looks great, looks like great deals at your garage sale and how fun to meet some blogging gals and I'm tired of cooking meals at home. I make the same old stuff and now with 2 of us, it's not as fun and we still eat out once a week maybe 2. It's one of our Treats.

Miss Sandy said...

It looks like you got some really great clothes from your friends sale!

We eat in far more than we eat out. We enjoy going out maybe once a month for a nice dinner and at the most some type of fast food once or twice a month. We like for meal time to be a part of our family time and enjoy cooking together as a family.

I find I save money by making out a menu for two weeks and shopping for all the necessary items at one time. I find I make less trips to the store if I have everything on hand and don't pick up extra items like I would with extra trips. I also use green bags for fresh produce and it lasts weeks so I can purchase ahead without it spoiling. They can be pricey up front but are worth it in the long run.

Jules from "The Roost" said...

Very good post I am so glad I found your blog! Love it. We are in fact eating in more. We are empty nest and went through a phase of eating out almost every night. That got old fast. It is quieter and more relaxing at home. And good I might add ;)

coco said...

We were travelling this weekend and I was reminded of how much I dislike eating out. I have always been a big believer in family dinners at home...even trained my workaholic husband years ago! It has to be somewhere really good and special for me to really enjoy eating out. We have had to travel a lot for the kids activities over the years and I am burned out on all the "chains". I always pack a cooler for our trips with sandwiches and healthy saves money and time!

Bonita said...

If I ever found a garage sale like yours I'd be completely broke so I guess it's a good thing I wasn't around for yours! I'm glad you did so well. Your things were beautiful.

I love the skirts you got from your friend. Those types of skirts are my favorites, so comfortable yet so feminine.

We do pretty much what you do as far as eating out. We've been operating that way for years so not much has changed for us during this crunch time.

As for saving money on groceries I'm a coupon queen who can save lots of money on groceries. My biggest success was a few years ago when I bought $58 in groceries and paid $1.03! However, the prices and sales are a lot different these days. The thing that is helping me most at present is to make a menu that includes all the meals and snacks for the week and make a grocery list and stick to it. I've also become the leftover police making sure that my teenagers reach for food that is already in the fridge and needs to be consumed before preparing something else. And I've become much more efficient at taking leftovers and converting them into something else, a new meal.

One other way I save money is to prepare my menu and list according to the loss leader sales for the week. These are usually on the front pages of the store flyers. I also stock up when they have buy one, get one free sales, especially if I have coupons to add to those sales. I tend to stop at three stores that are in the same general vicinity in order to take advantage of the loss leader sales in each one. It sounds like a lot of time, but I've gotten it down to a science so it's really pretty quick shopping. The key is to prepare ahead of time and only buy things that are not on your list if they are on DEEP discount and you actually need them. And pray before you ever leave the house!

Jo from Toronto! said...

Hiya Rhoda,

This is a great post! I love those great clothes that you got at your friend's sale, by the way. But I'm very sad that I'm NO WHERE near Alabama, because I can see that I definitely missed out on your garage sale!

I think this post about saving money by eating out less is quite timely. However, ever since we started eating in (because of your excellent recipes and others from Southern Living), I see a lot more people with bagged lunches at work. I'm not sure why that is. Personally, I get sick of eating out. I feel like the food tends to taste the same after a while.

One thing we have done in order to save more money is giving up our car. Because we gave up our car, I also gave up my gym membership (because I walk everywhere now). Mind you, I live in the wonderful city of Mississauga, which was designed to be like a series of "mini-cities" with a library, firestation, grocery store, wine store, etc every few miles. So I'm not more than a 20 minute walk from anything I need.

In our group of friends, we have an unfortunate couple who are currently NOT dealing with $25K in credit card debt. I noticed that ever since they revealed this tidbit, a LOT more of my friends have gone to secondhand shops and started eating in. This was way before the stock market and real estate trouble started, by the way. I think seeing how they've sort of dug themselves into a hole is a constant reminder of how we don't want to live.

I would have to say that my biggest encouragement comes from simple recipes, such as yours! By the way, my brothers-in-law loved the fig cake (which was easy as pie!) so thank you from all of us!

Mom on the Run said...

Since we have so many kids, we don't eat out that often (especially now that they are grown and eat a lot!) DOTR and I work together so we usually go out to lunch at Sweet Tomatoes about once a week (with a buy one get one free coupon) and usually we take the kids to our favorite Mexican dive when everybody is home from school as a "family night out". Otherwise, it's mom's home cooking and always has been. With just boys in the house, though, I hear a lot more objections to the frou-frou stuff I used to cook, so I've had to change to more manly menus for growing boys. I guess real men don't eat quiche at my house anymore. Or if they do, they complain about it.

JILL said...

We rarely eat out as a family...maybe once a month. It's hard with three kids just logistically, and I don't want to spend money like that if I can't relax with a glass of wine and eat my meal without lots of interruptions. I eat out a couple times a week for lunch at work, and have really laid off getting Starbucks on the drive into the office in the morning. We, too, save the expensive going out for anniversaries, birthday's etc. (and without the kids!). Now, paying the babysitter is a whole other issue. The going rate in our neighborhood is $15/hour. Yikes!