I get lots of e-mail questions and I love them, keep ‘em coming. Just give me a little grace in answering them. I try to get to them as soon as I can but I do have four kids that I’m trying to teach and train and a house to run and a 14 year marriage to keep strong and a gazillion other commitments just like you.
(I totally know that some of you are now adding up 14 years and trying to figure out how old I am so I’ll just tell ya. I’m 36. You are so busted!)
So with that said I’m going to try and spend some time blogging the answers to some of your questions this week. If you’ve got something that you’ve been wondering, now is the time to send me an e-mail. Just follow the link in my sidebar.
One of the more popular questions I get is, “Do you ever eat out?” And the answer is: It’s a rare occurrence, but yes, we do.
Since we are a large-ish family, you can probably imagine that eating out can get costly. With six of us; a 6’4” man who burns calories running miles and miles, 1 nearly 13 year old boy and 2 ravenous younger boys as well as a tween daughter and me, our appetites are big but our budget isn’t. But we’ve found a couple of ways to make it work when we decide to splurge. And it’s definitely a special occasion when we do it.
With a grocery budget of $50 a week you can imagine the shock of easily spending that much or more on one meal for my whole family at a restaurant. So we try to stick to a budget of $25 when we do make the rare decision to eat out, and we follow a few guidelines…
We usually eat at a fast food restaurant. Yeah, I know it’s not the healthiest choice but we aren’t eating out for health, we’re doing it more for recreation. Although I did watch Supersize It and I have to sing “la-la-la” in my head when I’m eating my Big Mac.
We usually choose places with a dollar value menu. Each person can order 4 items off the dollar menu and for 6 of us it keeps our total below $25. We’ve found these menus at Burger King, Wendy’s, McDonalds, and Taco Bell. It’s kind of fun to see the kids weigh the option of a $1 soda pop or free water and another burger. I look at it as teaching them money management as well as the value of a buck.
Another great find, and I know this may sound weird, is our hospital cafeteria. I know the big joke is how BAD hospital food is but the cafeteria offers everything from roasted meat and mashed potatoes, to a salad bar, deli sandwiches, pizza, wraps and desserts and it’s really cheap and fresh. Sometimes when we can’t decide where we want to eat, we’ll go there and everyone can get exactly what they want. The atmosphere is clean and quiet and they have a table big enough for all six of us.
And the bonus of eating out is not only that I have one night of NOT cooking but that the meal that we were GOING to eat at home gets saved and put on the next week’s menu with all the ingredients purchased and waiting for me in my kitchen.