Benefits To Going On a Restaurant Diet

So, I am 2/3 of the way done with my restaurant diet from Jan 3 – Jan 31.

What is a restaurant diet?

A restaurant diet is where you don’t spend your own money at restaurants or cafes.  No Starbucks, No ice creams, and no take-out.  You can use gift cards or have your friends or company take you out, but you can not spend your own money.  This is the second time my family is going through this self-discipline exercise.  What benefits do I see?  (By the way, if you are my friend, I’ll be very grateful if you want to take me out to lunch. 🙂  Doh! Did I just type that?

Benefit 1: Remembering that Restaurants are a treat

While growing up, dining out at restaurants was more a treat rather than a fall back for poor planning.  We didn’t go to fancy restaurants all the time, nor did I go out to fast food often. For special occasions, birthdays, anniversaries, or promotions, we would dine at our favorite fancy restaurant.  The food was great, the company was fun, and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  Some of why we enjoyed it was the fresh and new feeling of dining out. Here’s an example: If you ate ice cream every day, pretty soon ice cream doesn’t taste so good.  You then have to look for gourmet ice creams.  The spiral goes out of control.

By going on a restaurant diet, one benefit is turning dining out back into a treat.

Benefit 2: Homemade meals get more creative.

Another factor of a restaurant diet, is constraints.  37signals, a popular design and software company, talks about embracing constraints in their book, Getting Real.  Now, I’ve placed constraints on my diet which in turn forces me to think creatively and reminds me of the benefits of planning meals in advance.  You have to.  If you can not go out to eat at a restaurant, and you want to eat food, you, at the very least, have to plan going to the grocery store to pick up food.  Now, if you live like me where the grocery store is not the most convenient place to get to, you don’t want to go there every day.  So, you have to plan your grocery shopping.  Now, I am not a big fan of box or frozen meals.  I like fresh prepared food.  So, using our creativity, we can try to create the restaurant experience at home by trying new recipes we like, setting an elegant table, making appetizers or desserts, or adding mood music that coincides with the meal’s theme.

Benefit 3: Saving money

One benefit of not going out to eat at restaurants and cafes is I spend less money.  Sometimes I wonder do I really spend less money, but I am sure I do.  When I go to a restaurant, I am more apt to order pricier dishes, desserts, appetizers, wine and drinks.  At home, I don’t always have those items, and its cheaper at home.  Instead of a brownie sundae at a restaurant for $6.  I can bake homemade brownies at home, and eat them for a week.  According the average household spent $291 dining out during Oct 2009.  So, if I spend just the average, we’ll save $300 this month.

Benefit 4: Better Nutrition

When I make the food at home or buy the groceries, I have a much better idea of what exactly I am eating. For example, I know that I’m using quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil and using very little salt in my recipes.  I also very, very rarely make fried foods.  However, when I dine out, Chicken Fingers is one of my favorites.  In addition, I will often order french fries at a restaurant.  By putting myself on a restaurant diet, I’m reducing my calories in and eating better.

So, When are you going on a restaurant diet?

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