Eat in Month 2011 Challenge

Just like last year, Hubby and I have been spending too much money eating out! In an effort to save money and eat more healthfully, we are vowing to eat in for the entire month of January. Long time readers of The Chic Life may recognize this post because I did the same challenge in January of 2010. You can check out my January archives to read more about how I did last year. And let me tell you, I went for a long period of the month without a kitchen due to home renovations. I mean, I didn’t have a countertop or sink! If I can eat in through all that, so you can you. I know you can if you put your mind to it.

Anywho, just like last year, we’ve been using “eating out” like a crutch when we’re tired after work or don’t have anything at home to cook and don’t feel like going to the grocery store. Well, for the month of January – no more excuses! We’re eating in…every. single. meal.

The Eat in Month Challenge Concept

Eat every single meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch, snacks…whatever!) “in” to save money and eat better. (Hey, this may even fall in line with the New Years Resolutions some of you have made!)

How to Play

  • Cook or prepare all meals at home.
  • If you’re away from home for a meal, plan ahead and bring something from home with you (i.e. to work) to eat.
  • If you got it at a grocery store, it probably counts, unless you bought it at the grocery store cafe. The only exceptions to the cafe rule include: 1. if you create a side salad to accompany a meal you’ll be making at home or 2. prepared meats, i.e. rotisserie chicken.
  • Grocery-store-prepared dishes are ok if they accompany a meal put together at home. IMG_1249.JPG We all have busy lives and taking help from the grocery store shouldn’t be a crime. Example of acceptable use of grocery-store-prepped item: you want to eat sandwiches this week but don’t have anything to go with them. You pick up some bean salad at the grocery store deli to go with your lunch. Another example: you want to make chicken salad sandwiches, but you don’t have or want to buy all the ingredients. You buy grocery-store-prepped chicken salad, take it home, make sandwiches and enjoy lunch. NOTE: Personally, I feel that buying pre-pared side dishes, etc at the grocery store (esp at Whole Foods/Earthfare/etc) are sometimes healthier and more cost-effective than buying all the ingredients to make yourself. Why not use the help once in awhile?
  • Frozen meals count (meals from scratch are better but frozen meals are still cheaper than eating out (more affordable meals and you don’t have to pay tip) and can be actually cooked at home/work/etc.).
  • Challenge starts January 1, 2011 and ends January 31, 2011.
  • Play for a month if you can, or feel free to join for a week or two, or a day…whatever you can do.
  • Those playing for a month will get ONE cheat pass – one meal (not a day) you can eat out during the month of January.
  • Have a blog? If you’d like, post photos and/or descriptions of your meals. If you have a food blog, you very well may be doing so already! Remember, this is totally optional. I’ll probably post most of mine, but that’s because I’m the host of the challenge! I can’t guarantee I will post photos of every single meal, but I will tell you guys if I cheat (which I won’t do). If I did it last year, I can do it again!
  • If you’re on Twitter, use hashtag #eatinmonth to check out updates from each other, get inspiration, request tips, offer tips, and help each other out.
  • I’ll be posting tips and suggestions also on my Facebook page, so be sure to check that out often during the challenge month for updates.

Tips

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  • Get your pantry ready – A lot of times, I have good intentions to eat meals at home, but after a long day of work, if I don’t have any easy meals to whip up, I’m more likely to pick up the phone and order takeout. Having easy meals that come together quickly makes me more likely to put “pantry-meals” together instead of calling someone.
  • Click here to read my Eat in Month Pantry Tips + Ideas post
  • Have snacks ready – If I’m hungry at work, especially when there are lots of quick options around, it’s easy for me to take a 15 minute walk to pick up a snack. By keeping snacks in my desk and in the office fridge, I can just nosh on those instead of seeking snacks elsewhere.
  • Plan ahead – Prep your pantry, create a meal plan for the week. If you have a meal schedule ready, you’ll be more likely to stick to what you already planned ahead to prep/cook/eat. You’ll probably also utilize those leftovers more efficiently, too!
  • Have quick meals in your back pocket – Go ahead and jot down 5-10 quick meals you can throw together using pantry & staple items. Use this list when you’re hungry, out of energy, and out of time. Try to keep your pantry, fridge, etc stocked with a couple of the items needed for these quick meal so you’ll always have something to eat when you’re in a bind.
  • Keep it Simple – It’s nice to try to cook fancy-schmancy meals every night, but if you’re as busy as me, you just can’t do it every day. Allow yourself to put together simple meals, even if it’s heating up a frozen dinner. We know you may have better intentions, but just do the best you can while still being reasonable. Sometimes the simplest meals (spaghetti anyone?) are the best!

The Badge

You guys know I love my challenge badges! I’ve created one you can put on your blog for this challenge:

You can use the following code to add this banner to your site:

<a href="http://thechiclife.com/2010/12/eat-in-month-2011-challenge.html"><img src="http://thechiclife.com/wp-content/uploads/images/EatInMonthJan11.gif" border="0" width="170" height="170" /></a>

The Players

Are you playing along in the Eat in Month Challenge? If so, leave me a comment, whether you’re playing for the whole month, a couple weeks, a single week, a couple days, etc. and your URL if you have a blog.

  • Me :) I’m playing for a WHOLE month!
  • You?

Who’s In? It’s never too late to join! If January is halfway over and you just found out about the challenge, feel free to join in on the festivities! Better late than never! :)

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Comments

  1. says

    I’m in!! I recently lost my job and we need to save money, plus we both need to get back to our healthier eating habits, so this is great timing. I will try to participate for the whole month, but we might be relocating soon, which means traveling a bit. Either way, if we’re home, we’re definitely eating in!

    Layla at http://wishfulfillmenteveryday.blogspot.com
    @ohdearitsLayla

  2. says

    I mostly eat in anyway these days, but with the boyfriend just recently starting a night shift and me in school and working, I’m not willing to give up our occasional date nights where we go out and grab a bite away from the house and the roommate… it’s our time and it’s very special! I love this challenge though and I look forward to seeing your updates! :)

  3. Suki says

    I’m in! I think I mentioned wanting to do this the last time you brought it up. :-) I’m glad eating in at my parents’ house counts. Leftovers too!

    I think I’m leaving it as restaurant-free as possible. If friends want to come over or invite us over, it’ll count as eating in for us. :-)

    This may encourage more cooking…

  4. says

    Even though I’m not jumping in on the challenge, I know you’ll do great! Sometimes those prepped foods @ a grocery store can be a huge lifesaver…especially when the alternative to a $3 thing of egg salad is $15 worth of other groceries!

  5. says

    I think I could do this, but husband is harder to bring on board. Sure, he likes to save money, but he enjoys getting McD’s once a week (I pack for him the rest of the time) and the occasional pizza. For me, I need to cut back on all the specialty/fun to try stuff I buy all the time- that’s prolly where most of my money goes as I rarely eat outside the home.

    Any ideas on lunches that don’t require heating would be great. He’s super picky, but PB&J and turkey sandwiches get pretty boring.

  6. says

    I’m so in with you. Last year, I didn’t quite make it but it still helped A LOT to put in the effort. This year, I want to make sure not to cheat.

    Don’t forget we need a sleep challenge because we’re both up much to late :-)

  7. says

    Okay, just discussed this with the husband and he’s game. My Starbucks budget this year made my jaw drop. I need to find a way to make delicious lattes at home.

    We’re going to try to do this for the entire month. This should definitely jump start the whole living healthy plan for 2011.

    And starting tomorrow, I’ll be posting blog updates! Thanks for the inspiration, Diana!

  8. Jennifer says

    I am in for sure as I just started the 21 Kickstart challenge (its a challenge to become vegan for 21 days, although I am already vegan I welcome the new recipes)

    The only issue I have is that once a month at my new job we go out for lunch for a lunch meeting…So I will be using that as my “pass” but for the resy of January I will be making all my foods :)

  9. Tabitha says

    I forgot to add that I will be doing this for a the whole month as well, with the exception being Starbucks lattes for the first week…haha (although I have already cut WAY down in the last two weeks). I’m working on purchasing a Senseo, so I can make frothy coffee at home. Hopefully I will have it soon!

  10. says

    I’m in! I had my last eat out yesterday (Pei Wei!) in preparation for giving it up for the month. No more restaurant food for me!

    I’m saving up for my first DSLR, so here’s hoping that all of my eating out money can be funneled directly into my camera fund! Hooray!

  11. says

    I’m in! (With some flexibility…) I plan to eat all breakfast, lunch and snacks “in” while limiting dinners “out”. I plan to do one “planned dinner night out” and then also make exceptions for social nights out with friends if we are invited.

    I’d love if you’d post a list of all the blogs that are participating so we can all follow one another! My join in post is here:
    http://inanenvelope.wordpress.com/2011/01/01/lets-get-2011-started/

  12. says

    I’m definitely in! But I’m going to have to add some things to my rules.
    1. A cup of coffee purchased out does not count as “eating-out”. Coffee is the nectar of the gods in my book, and the sheer volume of coffee that I drink is not “convenient” for me to lug around a thermos full all day.

    2. Grocery store hot/cold bar doesn’t count either.

    I better get to the grocery store! But, I am excited! Bring it on!

  13. says

    I love this Diana. We’re going to try for a little bit! We have to watch the Giants game out tomorrow since we don’t get it at home- and I don’t feel right going to a restaurant and not ordering anything. And I’m traveling for work for a week later this month so that’s going to be tricky. Hmmm… maybe we’ll try it in February? Or for part of Jan? Some is better than none, right?

  14. says

    Yes, but I originally posted a comment on the link for last year’s challenge. Oops. You should read that to find out how I found your blog.

  15. says

    We are in for January with the exception of me for lunches. Unfortunately part of my job is taking customers out for lunch but every other meal we will make from home.

    Even though we do cook most of our meals at home, we were looking for a healthier start to 2011 and this will help!

  16. says

    I’m in for the whole month :) Hopefully I can get some of my fellow nutrition nerds to join, as well!!!

    - Jenn
    “The Nutrition Nerd”

  17. says

    i’m in for the whole month! i’m trying to make the transition to full-time vegetarian (and ultimately vegan) so this will certainly be a good place to start!

    texasmyway.tumblr.com

    xx

  18. says

    I’m in!

    I won’t be starting until January 4 (I’m moving tomorrow and it’s a 10 hour drive), but I am so in!

    My fiance and I spend way too much eating out, and we want to start living healthier, so this is a great way to kick it off!

  19. says

    I’m in!
    I need to eat cleaner and get my budget in check (for my September wedding) , and this sounds like an awesome challenge.

    Count me in! (I’ll start tomorrow through February 3).

  20. Jenny says

    I’m in too! Just discovered your blog and really am excited about this challenge! Made spicy chicken tortilla soup today and healthy cookies.

  21. says

    Hi Diana.

    I’m a day late but I’d love to play along this year.
    I remember you did this last year.

    I am so sick of eating out so at least until I have a long day at the office and not enough planning for food in the fridge, I should do okay!

    sign me up. I am off to see about adding a banner!
    :)

  22. says

    Very cool. Thanks for sending me the link. I wish I had known about this on the 1st!!! The hubby and I need to scale back big time on going out for late lunches on the weekend. We eat in for all meals Mon-Fri but have been indulging in lunches on Sat and/or Sun recently.

  23. says

    Thanks for the email girlie.

    I’m in on the challenge. Me and the fiance eat in most of the time, except for our date nights, which is probably about 4 times a month. The rest of the time we cook at home.

    I think this is a good challenge to help me make new recipes.

  24. Amy Ramos says

    Hi there! I saw your blog and challenge from http://www.brie-fit.com/ blog and I am in!!
    My husband and I had planned to do this anyways as we have TONS and mean tons of food in the pantry and freezer we can use up and make delicious meals. I will only be making trips to the farmers market for our fruits and veggies and to Target or Trader Joe’s for our dairy products.
    I already know what our cheat meal will be-hubby’s birthday dinner next week.

    I do not have a blog but I belong to an online community and I would love to have my badge in my signature line, if that is ok.

    Also, I have added you to my google reader.
    Have a great day!!!

    • says

      Welcome on board! Sounds like you have a great game plan ready already…I LOVE it! :)

      You’re totally welcome to use the badge on your online community. Thank you so much for asking and for adding it! :) Ooh and thanks for adding me to your google reader. Have a great weekend!

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