345 Days of Not Eating Out in 2010 (The Rules)

Image Courtesy of Debt Ninja

I got so many great comments from all of you readers when I first posted my personal challenge for myself in 2010 of not eating out for 345 in the new year.

So I wanted to give it some thought and then lay out the “ground rules” for my 2010 Challenge. We’ll do this in a question/answer format. =D

Q: Sometimes, I forget my lunch at home. And by sometimes, I mean a lot. What if I use up my 20 days? Will I have to starve? (From Investing Newbie)

A: In short, no. I live 1 mile from my apartment. So there is no reason why I shouldn’t be able to go home in the middle of the day to pick up lunch if I forget to pack mine. I also plan on keeping an “emergency” stash of some microwavable meals of last resort in my desk for when I do forget my lunch and don’t have time to run home. Think: Cup O’Noodles or those Thai meals where you just add hot water. Not appetizing, but better than spending one of my 20 on lunch just because I’m lazy!

Q: What about meeting people out for dinner/lunch/brunch to be social? Will you alienate friends by not eating out? (from me in millions)

A: Unfortunately for me, no. My lab does go out for brunch about 1-2 times per year. But since this number is so small, it can easily fit within my twenty days. The main way that my friends “hang out” is by doing what we call “drinking time”. Which is that we all go to the bar and share a couple of pitchers. I stopped doing this every time because it was starting to be every week. Not I just go for people’s birthdays and to celebrate major achievements like graduation or getting a new job. I should mention that drinking at bars or bowling alleys has NOT been cut out because I see this as a form of entertainment. However, ordering a meal at the bar IS out of the question.

Q: Just out of curiousity, will you count coffee/tea/other beverages in this goal? (from pyschsarah)

This is a question that I have struggled with the most. As I noted before, beer I will allow as an entertainment/social expense (also because I only drink at a bar MAYBE every other month). However, getting a Chai Tea Latte from Starbucks is one of my greatest weaknesses. I will sometimes get them in the morning for breakfast. Sometimes in the evenings when I prepare my lectures I find Starbucks a great place to put my thoughts together (and of course I need to order a drink). So this is the compromise I made with myself:

  • If I’m getting the Chai as a MEAL SUBSTITUTE (ie drive through in the morning) this is NOT allowed.
  • If I’m going to catch up with a friend over coffee/tea this IS allowed as an entertainment expense (paid for through my entertainment budget NOT my food budget).
  • If I am going to prepare for my lecture this is ALSO ALLOWED.

Q: If someone takes you out for lunch/dinner does it count? (from Girl Makes Cents)

A: This depends. If it is FAMILY taking me out for dinner than I do not count it (in two years of living in the midwest, NONE of my family has visited).

However, if it is a date or friends taking me out, then this counts. I have to draw this line because I could easily imagine a situation where I could give someone cash to take me out to eat. This is a way of “not breaking the rules” but still getting to eat out. Dates or friends I will try to do cook overs at each other’s places, otherwise it counts towards me 20 days.

So those are the questions you’ve asked me, here are a few more I asked myself:

Q: What about eating out on days where you’re flying?

A: This was also a hard one for me. I hate the idea of giving myself a “free pass” on days I have to travel because I CAN take food on planes. So this is what I decided: On the flight TO the destination eating in the airport counts. I should be able to pack a PB&J sandwich and some chips to eat on the plane if I get hungry. And a few snacks just in case. However, on the way BACK eating at the airport doesn’t count since I may be coming from a place where it wasn’t as easy to make myself a meal.

Q: What about when you’re away from home on a trip for work or pleasure?

A: These days count. All of them. It is just as easy to pick up food at a grocery store as it is to get fast food while not at home. If I’m at a conference that provides food, this food DOESN’T count – just food that I purchase that isn’t included in the registration cost of the conference.

Q: If you slip and eat lunch is the day lost and you might as well eat out for dinner?

A: Unfortunately, yes, the day is lost. However in the spirit of the Challenge I will make every effort to not let one meal cause me to slip for the next just because it doesn’t “count” towards my day total.

I think these were the majority of the questions that I had. I’m so excited about starting this in 2010. The challenge is so exciting for me! I’ve also noticed myself eating my “last meals” at a number of places I know that I won’t get to eat at a lot (at all) next year. Quite an interesting feeling knowing that such a significant change is approaching.

I look forward to sharing this journey with each of you, and hope that as many of you can join me as possible with your own 2010 Challenge!

Do you have any further questions for me?

Also, as some of you have noticed, I have a link on the front page of my blog for the Challenge. I will keep an updated list of the rules and the posts that I make regarding this challenge so that it will be easy to follow how this Challenge goes for me over time.

16 thoughts on “345 Days of Not Eating Out in 2010 (The Rules)

  1. No further questions, just awe from me. 🙂 You go!! I think you are smart for laying out ground rules and I think it’s okay to let yourself do the coffee/drinks thing if it’s for your social life. Good luck!!! You can do it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Good Luck on the challenge. I imagine this will have a pretty good impact on your finances (since you will be spending less) and health (since you will probably want to eat more filling foods).

    My friends and I did something similar, but not as challenging. We committed to bringing our lunch Monday to Thursday and eating out as a group on Friday. I can’t speak to what was done on the weekend, but overall it was a good deal for us.

    Have fun. I look forward to reading more.

  3. I think this is an awesome challenge, and one I want to try out as well! I am going to have to do some thinking on this and potentially tweak the ground rules some to fit my personal situation, but thank you for the inspiration. This is the budget category that has proven hardest for me as well. Best of luck!

  4. I’m going to stock up on the easy microwavable food. I think that is a great idea since I actually love CUP NOODLES and I did spend one summer eating only the Creamy Chicken variety. At least I won’t plan on eating it everyday this time around. Furthermore, one of my goals for 2010 is to cook more often, so of course I definitely won’t be forgetting my own food as often.

  5. Great! Make sure you go out for dinner on New Years eve 🙂
    I think this is a great challenge, I hope it saves you lots of $
    I hope that you don’t resort to the “ready made meals” at grocery stores, or the microwavable meals that cost so much because I know I would be tempted to. I look forward to hearing your progress!

    1. I don’t own a microwave (had one in San Diego but didn’t move it to the Midwest) – so that shouldn’t be a large temptation for me. =)

    1. Oh I don’t know! I definitely have two meals planned for sure. But they are for when I visit San Diego, and they are just placed there I like – not super nice places.

      I think (hope) that most of my “days” will be used on dates, so I hope they’ll be nice places or very special events.

  6. I’m going to be rooting for you! And stealing a few ideas like stocking up my desk with snacks and microwavable meals for those days I “forget” to bring my lunch. Good luck! You will totally rock this challenge!

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