So, eating out is a bit of a landmine. We're coming up on the 5th step of our "Real Food" eating challenge, and it's going to be the hardest yet -- no fast food, no deep-fried foods, eat out only on weekends. Eating out is a big problem for us. There's a few reasons we do it so often. One of the most common reasons we end up going out is "dinner failure" in the house. Either I cook something that turns out to be inedible (a sadly frequent side effect of kitchen experimentation) or the kitchen is such a mess that I have no dishes in which to cook or serve food (a frequent side effect of dating a guy with ADHD who forgets chores), so we end up making an emergency run to Taco Bell.
Other times, we just get bored or restless in the house. When you work from home, you get really sick of looking at the inside of that home, and it can be hard to think up new things to do with yourself that don't involve eating. Ironically, I've started shopping -- and enjoying shopping! -- more since becoming a conscious non-consumer. Sometimes we'll get bored at the house and head out to wander through the aisles at the Good Will or a pawn shop. Still, those outings rarely seem to occur without food showing up somewhere, and it's a big problem.
Anyway, we're going to work on curbing this habit. For one, it wrecks the bank. For another, it's much more difficult to keep an eye on your health when eating out. Even if you're not interested in losing weight, you should get in the habit of checking nutrition information at restaurants, because it's always way worse than you'd expect. You would be shocked to discover just how many calories are in certain foods. You think you're doing yourself a favor by ordering a salad, but that salad may have more calories than a hamburger.
Part of the problem is that restaurants and fast food joints like to load up their entrees with huge quantities of sodium, sugar and fat to cover up for the fact that their food is actually tasteless. If you don't have high-quality ingredients, just smother them in fat! That'll make 'em taste good! The other problem is portion distortion: The amount of food you're served is usually way more than you need to be eating.
The easiest way to cut your calories when eating out is to just not eat as much food. But then, this causes its own set of problems. Sure, you can get half of your entree boxed up before it even comes out to you -- but are you going to eat it? Is it going to fester in your refrigerator for weeks? And yeah, you can share everything with your significant other, but eventually you're going to get sick of always eating the same thing. And just throwing away perfectly good food is certainly not an attractive option. So, what do you do?
David came up with this smart solution. This is the simplest, most elegant solution to this problem. Are you ready?
Step one: Order your food.
Step two: Box up half of it.
Step three: Give your box of fresh leftovers to the first homeless person you see on your drive home.
No, you're not going to be solving world hunger any time soon by doing this. But, it makes you feel good knowing that somebody's going to have dinner tonight. You're not contributing to quite so much food waste. And, hey, maybe knowing that your food is going to someone else -- and may be the only thing they eat all day -- will give you just enough motivation to choose a healthier entree.
(Note: Feeding the homeless is actually illegal in some cities, so, y'know, do this at your own risk. But I can safely say, if there's one thing I'll never regret being arrested for, it'd be feeding a homeless guy. Just saying.)