When you first bring home a baby, he can almost be considered a large purse when it comes to eating out. The loud hum of a restaurant seems to keep a new babe in a deep slumber. Just find a a spot for the car seat and it's almost as if it's just the two of you again. But then a few months go by and your sweet babe wakes up. Much more fun, but eating out for dinner becomes more of a challenge. The baby factor, plus my quick realization that my 40% pay cut would be permanent for the foreseeable future, drew me back to my fondness for cooking.

I can remember the exact day actually. We had planned to go out for brunch with some baby-less friends. Our baby was about 4 months old. I found myself so stressed about what time he would need to eat and whether he would be in a good mood and what time he would need to nap (which didn't happen in busy restaurants anymore. It was all starting to feel so hard, and the uncertainty of the baby's schedule make planning seem futile.

Then it struck me - I could make a fabulous brunch for us with just a little effort. It was as if a huge weight was immediately lifted. I quickly scanned my cookbooks and made a breakfast casserole and picked up some fresh fruit. Ta-da. We had a great time - easy and stress free. That was the day the switch flipped, and I got excited about cooking again.

Shortly after I decided to try to make a new recipe every week. After finding "Cuisine at home," a magazine and collection of cookbooks, I found this a fun and fairly easy task. This is my favorite new collection of recipes - with the "Weeknight Menus" book at the very top of the list. The recipes are quick, creative, taste amazing, and don't break the bank. Instead of needing 5 new pantry items per recipe, I always have what these recipes call for in stock. What I love is that most of the recipes don't have that many ingredients at all - they are just different enough to get excited about.

Sure, sometimes after a long hard day I don't feel like cooking and we pick something up, but for the most part, we eat at home now. And sure it's nice to do nothing and be served, but nowadays, that doesn't outweigh the risk of taking a toddler nearing bedtime out to a busy restaurant.

The eternal optimist in me can't help but create a quick list of why dining in is better than dining out:

  • We know where out food came from, and it's organic where it counts
  • It costs so very much less
  • The wine costs even less
  • No worries if the baby is cranky
  • We control our portions (more and less)
  • We can season to our liking
  • It's healthier
  • No crappy service
  • It often just plain tastes better
We still eat out from time to time, especially lunch on the weekend. But, all in all, the tighter budget and new addition to our family have brought many new culinary delights to a happy table in our own home.

1 comments

  1. If It Barks // June 4, 2008 at 9:37 AM  

    I know what you're talking about! And you'll only feel more animate about it when your family grows again. This post is a great segway into the ways you're learning to save even more while cooking at home ;o)

    I have also experienced a return to home cookin' since having my second. In fact, I feel like I've become quite the expert in throwing things together from things left-over and half-used items about to go bad. This skill can also save money and waste!