I used to be one of those guys who ate almost every meal in a restaurant. There were the occasional dinners or weekend barbecues at a friend's house, every once in a while I'd cook up stuff you can't really get in restaurants — Sloppy Joe's, for examples, or a bacon-tomato sandwich that was actually packed with bacon — and, of course, I did my share of fast-food drive-though eating excursions.
But, largely, I preferred to eat in places where I could sit down, relax and get someone to bring me my food and drink — I really appreciate good service and tip proportionally; sometimes disproportionally (in the positive way, overtipping for VERY good service).
I looked at it as a way to get out of the work environment; I hate eating lunch at the office. I wanted a place that was totally not like work, with adequate to good food.
Often, I ate out with friends and/or co-workers (sometimes they were the same, but not necessarily so LOL). Good conversation, or just shared bitch sessions. Plus, you pretty much HAVE to go to some restaurants, especially Chinese eateries, with multiple people. That way you can order a bunch of different dishes, enjoying a diversity of tasty delights without feeling like a gluttonous pig.
The rest of the time, I'd take a book or magazine with me, and kill two relaxing birds with one stone — some good food and a nice relaxing read.
But things had to change. I was spending WAY too much money on a weekly basis eating out. I'd spend $10 to $20 for lunch, depending on the place, and usually about $15 to $60 or more for dinner, again depending on the place. That added up to a hefty bill at the end of the month and, especially during my younger and much more foolish days when the vast majority of these meals were charged to my multitude of credit cards.
I've since changed my ways. I have ZERO credit cards. Instead, I have a VISA check card to handle non-cash, or no-cash-on-me situations. This way, I can only spend, at most, what I have in the bank. I have a savings account that gets regular direct deposits straight from my checking account. I no longer spree shop, buying cool or neat things I don't really need just because I think they are cool or neat, or because they're on sale.
This isn't easy — the local Kmart recently has had TV's on sale in varying weeks. Once, they had a 32-inch TV for just $300. They've had 25-inch TV's for about $120. I have a Phillips 17-inch TV. No fancy features. It doesn't even have the shitload of plugs to connect speakers and stuff. But it works fine. My DVD player does have the shitload of plugs. It's not a true "home entertainment system," but it gets the job done. In the past, I would have just bought a new TV; now I refrain and just keep using the one I have. And, this week, I'm selling off the other two TV's that are just sitting in a closet right now. LOL
This fiscal restraint has also led to me eating at home more often. That means cooking more often. Now, I'm not a bad cook, and I can make more than just a few meals. I have a repertoire! LOL ... in fact, right now I'm cooking chili. Now it's nowhere as good as my Pop's was — his was pretty famous on Guam — it was a popular food requested for rosaries and fiestas. But still, I make it so that it's at least 10 times better than canned chili ... and that's all I need.
Now, I most often come home for lunch. I'll make a sammich, or heat up some leftovers, or have a bagged salad or something like that. And dinner is usually eaten at home too.
Since it's cheaper to eat at home than eat out, I'm spending less. And I still eat out for lunch and/or dinner now and then, just not as often. Also, since I eat more vegetables, salads and fruits — no fancy, caloric-laden sauces and desserts like restaurants have, it's also contributed to my ongoing weight loss.
A couple Friday's ago, I went out with a couple of friends to a fancy dinner — hadn't done that in months, whereas before it was at least once a week, if not more often. I have since resolved to treat myself to these gourmand-lover's meals a little more often — maybe every couple of weeks, or at least once a month. I'm much more financially stable now, and if I just keep it to the "occasional indulgence" category, I think I will be OK.
So, on Saturday night, if you're on Guam, you can find me at one of my favorite places, Hy's Steakhouse (imported from Canada), enjoying a pre-meal Absolut kamikaze on the rocks, eating a warm spinach salad and some steak tartare, followed by a thick Canadian steak (hopefully not rife with Mad Cow Disease! LOL) served with a twice-cooked, double-stuffed baked potato. Maybe even the Crepes Suzette for dessert.