I had to make sure I had the right idiom, so I went to Wikipedia and looked up Sacred Cow.
A figurative sacred cow is something…that is considered immune from question.
Yep, that about covers it.
You see, we have a sacred cow. Though we may have questioned its existence over the years, it’s something that remains strong in the end.
It’s our dinners out.
Eating out has become a big part of our family dynamic. I cook during the week, we go out on weekends. It works for us, so we haven’t worried too much about cutting it out of our budget.
Here’s why it works.
1. I’m not much of a cook. And because I don’t have the time (or skills) to prepare meals that are interesting or complicated, I’ll be the first to admit our weekly dinner menu is Snoozeville. I’m getting bored just thinking about it.
2. We’re a family of varied tastes. One of us is a vegetarian, one of us believes a meal isn’t a meal unless it’s heaving with beef, and two of us could subsist on mac-n-cheese alone. Hence, dinners at our house tend to be a compromise on all fronts. Eating out allows each of us to satisfy our palettes with meals we don’t normally get at home.
3. We work. And at the end of the week, we’re usually too tired to cook and do dishes. Not that we couldn’t muster the energy if we needed to, it’s just nice for someone else to do it on occasion.
4. It’s something to do. We don’t load our weekends with activities. Saturdays and Sundays are spent at home doing laundry, getting caught up on projects, and generally being lazy bums. Going out to eat gives us an excuse to get out of the house and avoid going stir-crazy. It’s become our weekend family fun activity.
But recently, we’ve been questioning our sacred cow again.
When I was going over our expenses from October and November, I realized our restaurant line item was bulging. A-Rob was home more often, which meant some weekends held 2 dinners out, and maybe 1 lunch. For a family of four, that easily adds up to $150 per weekend. Do that a few times a month and we’re looking at $400 monthly in restaurant bills.
With our recently squeezed budget, we needed to cut that dollar amount back.
My first thought was to only eat out if we had a coupon. But that idea fizzled pretty quickly, given my aversion to those things.
I also thought about scoring some gift cards from Restaurant.com. But after several minutes of searching, I couldn’t find a single place where we’d be interested in dining.
Then I thought I might purchase some discount gift cards for some of our regular haunts. But then I realized we’d only be saving $6 per meal at most, and that was too much effort for such little savings.
The easiest solution was to simply eat out less.
Unfortunately, that’s also the most unsexy and uncreative way to save.
I had visions of us sitting at home in the dark on a Saturday night, eating frozen pizza and watching looping episodes of Sponge Bob, cursing the fact we couldn’t be eating at a restaurant.
Because the only alternative to spending money is sitting home in the dark and being depressed, so I like to tell myself.
In order to make this work, we’d have to find a way to eat out less and fulfill all the things that eating out does for us.
We had to find a way to eat good, interesting food, that would satisfy all our cravings, while simultaneously allowing us (the parents) to not work too hard. And to top it off, it had to be a fun (not depressing) family event.
Sounds like a tall order. But you know I wouldn’t be telling you all of this if we hadn’t found a way to make it happen. In my next post, I’ll share how.
Until then, have you slaughtered any cows lately?
Photo by wwarby on Flickr