I want to switch gears for this recent eats post and talk about eating out. I don’t eat out a ton, or do much takeout, with the exception of when I’m traveling for work. There are a few reasons that I don’t eat out a ton:
- It’s crazy expensive compared to cooking at home. I admit that I spend a lot on groceries for just me and Finn but we also eat pretty much every meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner) at home.
- I have a toddler. Can we all agree that eating out with a toddler is just not the most fun experience to be had?
- I don’t have a partner. I am all about Friday or Saturday takeout and getting cozy on the couch with a movie or going out for date night and trying a new restaurant or visiting an old fave but I’m just not there at this juncture in life.
- I genuinely like cooking and eating at home. It makes me so happy, and relaxes me. It never feels like work. I’ve always considered it an act of self-care.
- I often feel better when I eat home cooked food versus out food. I think this is mostly due to portion sizes and sodium content.
(Dressed up for dinner out circa 2017)
When I do eat out I try my best to enjoy it and make it “worth it.” I try to pick restaurants I’m excited to try or know that I love, and often I try to order things that I wouldn’t eat or cook at home. There is nothing sadder than paying for a so-so meal that makes you feel blah.
Since I don’t eat out often, I also give myself a lot of leniency to order whatever sounds the most delicious without overthinking calories, sugar, fat, etc. For example, I don’t fry food at home so eating out is a time that I’d go for something fried without batting an eye. Truffle fries? Yes, please. Fried okra? Sign me up. Another example, I drink black coffee at home so when I go to a coffee shop I am there for fancy lattes.
Today I have five recent “out to eat” meals to share with you, ranging from coffee shops to fast casual to sit down meals.
CHAI + DESSERT AT AMELIE’S
I don’t know what it is about being at a coffee shop but a special drink feels like such a treat. On this day I had a chai creme at Amelie’s during an afternoon meeting and took a pumpkin tart home with me to eat for dessert that night.
My #1 go-to coffeeshop drink that I love is a Starbucks Soy Latte. I actually do NOT love their black coffee…it’s too strong…but their soy latte is my absolute favorite because they use this delicious vanilla soy milk that slightly sweetens it. If they ever change this milk I will be so sad because no other latte compares.
I love chai if I know the coffee shop does chai well. The spicier, the better! Amelie’s has a good one. I order it with whole milk.
SOLO LUNCH AT EIGHT + SAND KITCHEN
While I am totally cool with sitting at the bar and having dinner solo when I am traveling, I do prefer a dinner companion when eating out in Charlotte. That said, I am ALL ABOUT solo lunch dates and have been since I was in college at UGA.
Recently, I took myself on a lunch date to Eight + Sand Kitchen because I was dying to try it. The owners of Charlotte’s Not Just Coffee and Inizio Pizza came together to create a concept offering sandwiches served on house made breads, fresh salads, coffee drinks, beer, wine and more.
The space is gorgeous and the perfect place to grab food or a drink and hang or work. I will be back!
I had the Italian sandwich with prosciutto, capocollo, salami, provolone, pepper relish and mayo on ciabatta. I have always loved a good Italian sandwich! 🙂
POKE BOWL AT CO
I met a friend for lunch today at CO. They serve southeast Asian cuisine ranging from pho to sushi to Bahn mi. CO has locations in Charlotte, Charleston, Savannah, Atlanta, Raleigh and Myrtle Beach. This was only my second time dining at CO but I am now reminded that I need to make it much more frequent!
I had a poke bowl with poke tuna, avocado, cucumber, seaweed salad, pickled carrots and wonton strips. It was served over maze gohan rice. This was DELICIOUS. The best poke bowl I’ve ever had.
FAST CASUAL INDIAN AT TANDUR
Tandur Indian Kitchen is a fast-casual concept with locations in Charlotte, Knoxville and soon in Nashville. They serve freshly prepared food inspired by Indian tradition in a modern style. Their specialty is cooking food in a white-hot clay oven. Tandur offers everything from saucy entrees featuring things like chicken tiki masala to naanchos (get it?) to kebab bowls, which you see pictured above. I ordered the chicken kebab bowl and it was served with rice, a vegetable medley and chutney.
The food was incredible but so was the service. The guys working were incredibly helpful in guiding me through the decision making process on what to order. Also, Tandur has visual menus where you can walk up to a screen and view photos and descriptions of the various dishes. How amazing is this? Especially when it comes to ethnic cuisine! I couldn’t decide between the korma or kebab bowl so the staff offered to bring me a complimentary side of korma with my kebab bowl.
Cannot wait to eat at Tandur again. This 100% gets my stamp of approval.
FRESH, LOCAL SEAFOOD AT STEWBY’S
My family and I were OVER THE MOON when our favorite local seafood restaurant (shack) opened a location on Okaloosa Island. It is our go-to causal dinner spot and is now just a mile down the road from my parent’s condo!
During our last visit my parent’s condo was under renovations getting new flooring in the bedrooms and some fresh paint so our meals were all over the place. On Saturday night we headed to Stewby’s for a seafood dinner. I had the catch of the day which was mutton snapper and I opted to have it grilled. For my sides I chose cheese grits and fried okra. This Georgia girl will always have a soft spot in hear heart for cheese grits and fried okra.
Let’s talk about eating out!
How often do you eat out? How often do you do takeout/delivery?
What are your feelings around eating out given what I listed above?
Favorite meals/cuisine to eat out?
Anything else to share?
I probably eat out once every 1-2 weeks. I prefer to cook and eat at home – I meal plan and prep, and also live in an area that doesn’t have food delivery (gasp!) so most of the time Eating at home is actually easier for me than eating out ! I also pack breakfast and lunch when I’m at work because I dislike spending my breaks waiting in line to buy food.
Thanks for sharing your out eats! I prefer eating at home too as it’s cheaper and generally more healthy but we do go out about once every week or two primarily to give our children (4 years old, 8 months old) exposure to eating out so they learn how to behave in different restaurants.
We used to eat out a lot more, but a toddler really does take the fun out of going out haha. We do get takeout on Friday or Saturday night, usually Italian or sushi. I agree with feeling better when you eat home cooked meals. Also, when I work I bring 4 mini meals because when I eat bigger meals it really slows me down. I find that grazing during my workday doesn’t give me that afternoon crash 🙂
We’re definitely cook at home people for exactly the reasons you say. I can cook just about anything and clean up in the time it would take us to go out, wait for a table, wait for our food, etc for a fraction of the cost. Because we don’t eat out very often, it’s a treat and we enjoy it more when we do. And seriously there must be a heck of a lot of sodium or something in restaurant food, because it’s really hard to feel that blah from a home cooked meal.
I eat out about once every two to three weeks. I don’t eat out more often for the same reasons you say–the cost, as well as the fact that I like to cook and I feel better eating the food I make at home. And just like you, when I eat out I want it to be worth it and try and get something that I can’t make at home.
My favorite meals to eat out are pizza, Mexican, some type of falafel sandwich or platter, and Indian food.
I am in the same situation as you…no partner (minus the toddler). I prefer to eat at home and bring my lunches because I work in an area with very limited healthy options, so I save a ton by bringing my breakfast, lunch and snacks. I too prefer to eat at home because I know exactly what I am eating and I feel much better without all the sodium. I eat out about once a week, and I may get takeout once a month, if that. I prefer to spend my money eating out with friends rather than on takeout at home.
Even though I’m married, I am like you and I rarely eat out. I do eat out once/month with my book club and I pretty much let myself order whatever I want without thinking too much about the price since I eat out so rarely. I do grab lunch about once a week during the week since I work downtown and have lots of yummy options around me, but that’s about it. Our son is 20 months and still does really well at restaurants but it just feels like a hassle to go places with him for dinner and lunch isn’t a good time to eat out as he naps at 12-12:30 usually. And take out just feels really expensive and not worth it for us. Plus I have a gluten intolerance so that makes it harder to eat out although it has gotten so so so much easier in the last 3-5 years! We are moving at the end of the month and there are some great restaurants in our new neighborhood that are walking distance away so I’m hoping we can maybe do a family dinner out once a month or something like that?
Before we had children, my husband and I ate out for the majority of our meals. Since having kids, we have cut back a lot. Unlike you, I do NOT enjoy cooking, but I do agree that I feel better when I eat mostly home-cooked meals, and it is DEFINITELY less expensive.
Oh, and dining out with toddlers? Definitely not fun. Our sons are almost 8 now, and it’s still not always fun to eat out with them, depending upon where we go. (One of my sons is a finicky eater and only likes about 4 restaurants, LOL)
I’m so jealous of you and everyone else who meal plans and cooks at home. I always say I’m going to start doing this – and I haven’t started yet… I have a toddler as well and so going out is not nearly as appealing as it used to be. Meal delivery kits have been helpful here and there but I NEED to get my butt in gear with doing this more cost effectively on my own. All you people who enjoy this meal stuff and have it together enough to get to the grocery store to buy what you need, I am so amazed and inspired by your plan and follow through. One of these days…
I too find joy in cooking. I also love being frugal and shopping my pantry/freezer. I can finally admit I am a good cook and just enjoy it!
I enjoy eating my favorite foods out! For example, I love roasted brussels sprouts but to get amazing ones with goat cheese is just so yummy! I also love getting brick oven pizza and farm to table meals where the chefs are so creative with veggies.
Since I’ve been divorced I have struggled with going out to eat too. I would much prefer to get something easy from Whole Foods on my kid-free nights – which are only 2 per week. I like going out with my kids … but they eat a LOT and it’s not cheap.
I miss being in a partnership, to be honest. So I kind of avoid the restaurant scene these days. Maybe I’ll date at some point, but right now, I just want to focus on spending time with my boys, because it goes so quickly. A frozen pizza or chicken on the grill at home is always better than eating alone in a restaurant, in my opinion.
For me, I don’t do take out because it is bad for the environment. When I do, I bring my own containers, they are 90% of the time friendly and open about it. With an environmental crisis, take out with disposables will probably exist less and less in the future… At least in some cities. Canada wants to ban single use plastic in 2 years, which will change our habits for the good.