I love dining out at restaurants for the atmosphere, service, and the chance to experience creative cuisines. A night out of the house on a Wednesday can suddenly feel like a special occasion strictly due to the fact we’re not eating at our home. However, I try not to eat out too often. This is mostly because I prefer money in my wallet more than money on my plate, and let’s be honest, unfortunately sometimes the meal isn’t worth the price.
That’s why during the week I pack my lunch for work almost every day. To me, anything I bring from home tastes just as good as anything I could buy out. On occasion I will eat out at my favorite Panera or Chipotle, but typically lunch is packed leftovers from the night before.
We also make and eat dinner in as much as possible throughout the week. This doesn’t mean I make a four-course meal every night though. I usually cook 2-3 meals a week and the other couple of nights are a free-for-all and we might heat up some frozen leftovers, or Tim might have a turkey sandwich and I will have a bowl of soup and a salad. Luckily we aren’t too picky and don’t mind leftovers. One way or another, we eat almost every item we buy at the grocery, which helps to keep costs down.
When I do get the opportunity to eat out though, I try and order what I am really craving on the menu. Sometimes it is healthy, occasionally not so much, but usually I will try and make one or two lighter changes to the dish if possible. It seems like some weeks I can eat out very little, maybe once or twice. On rare weeks it can seem like every meal is ate in a restaurant. When I don’t eat out as much I am more likely to indulge during my one night out. However, if I know multiple meals out in a row are in my schedule, I try and pace myself and watch my intake. A week of eating out can, like on vacation, leaves me craving my ‘normal’ (although, my husband may argue that pumpkin oats is not normal! :-) ) eats.
This past week was one of those rare occasions I had a lot of chances to eat out. A lot of fun events were planned with some wonderful people, which is more than enough of a reason to get out the wallet.
Saturday I met my friend Gretchen, one of my bridesmaids, for a little shopping and some lunch! We decided to go to Choe’s Asian Gourmet, where we wanted to indulge in some sushi!
Appetizers shared included Edamame…
…and Shanghai Rolls, ‘Five mini vegetable spring rolls with sweet chili sauce.’
I hit a home run with shopping that day too! I had a couple of gift cards and filled up my little basket at Sephora with eyeliner, mascara, and a new blush to add a little color to my winter white skin!
Banana Republic was having amazing deals, and wouldn’t you know I had a gift card there still from Christmas too! My money went far thanks to all the discounts and I was able to get a sweater ($16.99 and usually $79.99!!), two long sleeve shirts, and a sparkly tank top for $50. Pretty good!
Saturday night I had another fun get-together, this time dinner at PF Chang’s with my friend Meghan and her boyfriend, Josh! Meghan was my friend who encouraged me to start this blog, so let’s just say we had a lot of laughs talking about all of our blogging ‘quirks!’ We had chicken lettuce wraps to start, and I had broccoli & beef with the sauce on the side, along with a little brown rice for my entree. Meghan and I each decided to splurge on a fun drink, she went for the Organic Agave Margarita and I ordered the Asian Pear Mojito, ‘Bacardi Limon and fresh mint with a hint of pear.’ Very fresh and light, which was a nice choice to balance the heavy flavors in the Chinese food.
After dinner we headed off to a local wine bar called The Wise Owl. The place was super cozy, maybe held 30-40 people at the most? The lights were low and the drinks were on fire, literally! Meghan and I ordered the bartender’s specialty, which was described as being similar to a Lemon Drop.
There were quite a few ingredients in the drink, including vodka, rosemary, lemon, and orange essence. The orange essence came from the orange rind that was lit on fire over the top of the drinks with a lighter. The oils came out of the rind and into our martini glasses. The result was unreal! I was skeptical of the rosemary at first, but it really did create such a fresh and unique flavor.
Fast forward through the weekend, and suddenly it’s back to the gridiron starting Monday morning. Sometimes a week can drag by, and there’s nothing like a special brunch with two of my favorite people to break up a busy work week. Tim and I met my mom at Butter Cafe before work one morning, and I loved beginning my day with good food and great company. Butter Cafe is a cute and eclectic little brunch and lunch place near a local college campus. “Butter Cafe supports sustainable cooking! Our ingredients consist of food that is healthy for consumers and animals, does not harm the environment, is humane for workers, respects animals, provides a fair wage to the farmer, and supports and enhances rural communities.”
Since portion sizes are so huge at most restaurants, whenever my mom and I eat out together we try and share our meals. Today was no different and we ordered the Blueberry Pancakes, ‘Three buttermilk pancakes with filled with fresh blueberries’ and these babies were huge! My mom and I were each able to put down half of one if that tells you anything!
We also ordered the Skinny Fritatta, which was ‘Egg whites only with tomato, peppers, roasted mushrooms, onions and fresh spinach.’ The egg was good, but I think I have decided I am not a spinach fan in my eggs. I absolutely adore broccoli in my omelets, but spinach not so much! The potatoes that came with it were pretty good, but I like mine a little burnt and crispy.
Lunch one day this week was with a few coworkers at Potbelly’s Sandwich Shop. Potbelly’s is one of my favorite sandwich shops and reminds me of college when I used to eat there at least a couple of times a week. I usually get the Original Turkey Breast on Wheat Bread, but this time I was feeling a salad. I ordered the Farmhouse Salad with grilled chicken breast, hard boiled egg, bacon, blue cheese, and red onion. The salad was good, but the dressing is the best part. Potbelly’s Non-Fat Vinaigrette is delicious and why I like salads from there so much.
So that’s where I’ve been eating and what I’ve been ordering. I tried to keep a balance of edamame, sushi, egg whites, and brown rice, but also splurged on a couple sugary cocktails and carb-heavy pancakes. It’s all about finding that balance so I can enjoy my time out and focus on the company, while enjoying some yummy food on the side.
Where do you like to eat when you go out?
Been anywhere extra delicious recently?