The more I’ve gotten into healthier eating, the more challenging it’s become to eat out. Unfortunately, the options often seem fried, fattening or large enough to feed an entire family…. and worst of all, the options seem unavoidable at times. Between family, friends and work, there are and will always be times when I’m faced with these oh so common restaurant battles. Of course, I usually give in and allow my eyes to be larger than my stomach, leaving me over loaded and unhappy with my decision to cave in.
As I’ve gone through trial after trial and experiment after experiment to address this issue, I’ve often come up empty handed….
– I’ve tried halving everything I order and immediately boxing up one half… Buuut I really like to eat so I’ll just open the box and eat the entire thing. Totally their fault for not locking the to-go box!
– I’ve tried just not eating certain things on my plate (like the french fries or the hamburger bun), but again, I like food and I like eating so those attempts typically fail.
– I’ve tried being like that hilarious scene from When Harry Met Sally and ordered everything a special way, but that typically results in a plethora of extra charges that make my wallet sad.
– I’ve tried eating before I go out so that I don’t have to eat anything or make any of those decisions, but then I’m the loser at the table that everyone harasses about being ok or too crazy.
So, shit. I guess that leaves me the option of always being a fat kid when it’s time to dine out….. NOT!
Recently, I’ve fallen in love with ordering sides rather than the preset meal options. What I mean by that is literally ordering off the “Sides” menu…
First I scan the menu and see what the options are. I usually want most, if not all of the menu options slightly different then how they come. If the adjustments are simple, I’ll go for it to be easy. However, if they’re not and won’t be cost effective either, I’ll build my own meal from the sides menu. Think of it this way – even if it’s not listed, pretty much any ingredient or item a restaurant has on the menu can ordered as a side.
Recently, for example, I stopped at Novel Cafe for a quick bite between my workout and day full of errands. The menu, which I love, didn’t really have any prepared options I wanted, so I stopped to think what I DID want. I want eggs and I want turkey bacon and I want veggies….
What started as…
– Two-fer (2 eggs with choice of meat, toast or pancakes and potatoes or fruit) for $10 plus side salad for $4
…. No toast or pancakes and no potatoes or fruit, please…
Total cost would have been $14
Ended up as…
– Side of 2 eggs for $2
– Side of turkey bacon (I got 3 pieces versus the 2 I would have gotten) for $3
– Side salad for $4
– Side of grilled vegetables for $5
Total cost was $14
The moral of the story? I didn’t spend any more money than I would have, I didn’t waste all the food I didn’t want and I got everything I actually DID want!
Huge score, huge healthy and filling meal, and huge smile on my face!