Weight Loss Support - How often do you eat out?

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11-18-2007, 09:40 PM
If so, what do you eat?
If not, how long do you spend preparing food in a day, a week?

11-18-2007, 09:52 PM
practically dh and i never eat out (or only once a month) due to dh being back in school and we're on a strict food budget. as for how long do i spend preparing food..not that long. DH and i cook 3 times a week and eat leftovers the onther days. I don't work normal work days so, some days i have weekdays off and sometimes weekends. I find that i make my meals on my day off and then one day a week dh or i make a simple meal on a work day. i do find it helps to prepare ahead. I use to plan a week food menu (ie breakfast lunch snack dinner etc) at first it took me about 30-45 min to prep and figure out what i'd need for shopping. Since we've been doing this for a few months now, i don't really need to make a weekly schedule. We usually shope 1-2 times a week (usually one run is just small for fresh fruit/veggies). One thing i will tell you is that i have lost more weight since we haven't been eating out. Everyone tends to overeat when eating out. Tonight for example, dh and i, had a treat at Bahama breeze. We split an appetizer and a sandwhich. We now hardly eat much, in fact we took half our meal home. I don't find i have the best will power when eating out...so therefore, for me, its better to stay at home.

i really think at first it takes a little time to get use to figuring out menu/food/shopping list etc...but honestly if you stick to it, it will get easier and takes less and less time. When its a night for cooking, on average, the meal takes about 30 min to prep and cook. I'm not a big fan of meals that take forever to cook.

so this was a long rambling message...but take it from a once chronic "eater outer"...i have lost more weight since i've stopped eating out. I'm in much better control. Give it some time, prep time and menu planning will eventually get simple and require little time.

hope that helped...sorry for the long ramble

11-18-2007, 10:02 PM
Occasionally - I went out to dinner this saturday just gone. It was an Italian restaurant and I looked the menu up online so I knew what I would be ordering (which ended up being an entree sized gnocchi with plain tomato sauce and I ate maybe a third of it)

As for preparing food - well! I LOVE to cook so most mornings I have an omlette for breakfast, lunch is ALWAYS home made - usually a sandwich or leftover salads from the night before and dinner is always home made, never ever take away.

11-18-2007, 10:02 PM
We used to go out a lot, but now that we're both going to be students again in January and we're both paying for it ourselves, not so much :)

I'm really picky at restaurants - I always get everything made my own way. Lots of salads and lean proteins. If I order something with rice, I never eat more then half of my entree, and the other half makes the next day's lunch. I hate not knowing how many calories I'm consuming, so I like to stick to restaurants where you can check calorie content of items in their menu before you go.

I never eat dessert, or have a drink (unless alcoholic). I drink lots of water, and if I want something sweet, I'll have a piece of fruit when I get home.

I'm not that great at cooking, and I'm usually too busy, so I spend very little time preparing food. I get really convenient foods - little cans of flavored tuna, Bistro Express. I know that made from scratch would be lower sodium, but I can't really do anything about that right now. The most time I spend preparing food is usually for the lunches that I take to work.

Tara D
11-18-2007, 10:07 PM
I almost always eat at home. I cook daily. I work 12-14 hour days, so I like to make quick meals. I usually don't spend more than half an hour preparing dinner. I bring my lunch to work every day, and I have breakfast before I leave the house in the morning.

Usually for dinner I have:
1)Chicken in curry simmer sauce (canned sauce from trader joe's)w/ lots of veggies over rice
2)Shrimp and lots of veggies in a spicy tomato sauce over pasta
3)Ground turkey in a chili sauce w/ onions/green pepper/tomato over rice
4) I used to also have a home made chicken fajita in a low carb wrap (haven't had it in a while)
5) Chicken in a Moroccan sauce w veggies over rice
6) Chicken/shrimp dish w veggies and a sweet potato (or oven baked sweet potato fries)

I find that by buying the healthiest bottled prepared sauces I can find and adding a protein and a couple cups of frozen veggies to the sauce and eating this with the starch of my choice, I can have a freshly cooked meal in 30 minutes or less each night.


11-18-2007, 10:18 PM
That's a good question.

I very rarely eat out. I find the stuff that I make at home much healthier, tastier and more full of volume for less calories then I get out. I also know exactly what I'm putting into my food. I hate not knowing how many calories are in a particular dish.

The good question was how much time do I spend preparing food. Hmmmm... Well, I never thought about it, but it's a lot. A real lot in fact. I'm always planning, shopping, chopping, dicing, cooking, cleaning up, and bagging up my food. Gosh, I don't even know. It's definitely over an hour a day. Although it's a lot of time, I consider it time VERY WELL SPENT and it's not an option to give it up, as much as I'd like to have some more spare time. Having healthy, delicious foods to eat to is what's kept me on plan for so long. It's become such a habit to me, it's totally ingrained in me. It's just simply "what I do".

11-18-2007, 10:54 PM
We eat out rarely, maybe once a week at most, and usually on a weekend. When we go out, we typically go to a salad bar or get soup. Not very exciting. Big meals out are very rare indeed.

In terms of my food prep time:

Weekly - 30 minutes menu planning and grocery list making based on my menus for dinner for the week, plus an hour at the store.

Daily - 10 min to make breakfast, 10 min to gather or prepare my snacks, 10 min to reheat leftovers for lunch, etc, and 10 min dinner prep early in the day. No more than 30 min dinner prep after work, and another 10 minutes or so making whatever I'm having for dessert. So that is 80 minutes per day food prep time, but it is mostly split into 10 minute increments. I only spend one large block cooking, when I get home from the gym, for the 30 minutes it takes me to get dinner on the table. This only counts hands-on time...often things need to be cooked for a while in the oven/stove, but I don't have to be hands on with them, so that isn't really cooking time.

11-18-2007, 11:06 PM
I don't eat out as much as I used to, but definitely still way too much!

At least I have a sense of what I can "get away with" now, where as before, I was definitely in denial about how unbelievably unhealthy restauarant food can be (and almost always is).

I do like the Whole Foods hot food bar, though, I must say. Expensive as **** but soooo, soooo good. :)

11-19-2007, 12:46 AM
We eat out at least once a week.

When I do eat out, I try to eat salads, or fish. I eat a lot of chicken at home and fish is a nice change. I substitute veggies for fries or potatoes at lots of places, and try to remember to ask to just have them steamed. So I create a lot of my own meals when I do go out.

But I do spend a lot of time over the course of the week buying, chopping, and cooking. I also consider it time very well spent. I often make meals one day that last throughout the week, like soup or chili, or red beans and rice...

11-19-2007, 12:46 AM

I eat out twice a week, practicing portion control and eating things that are on my plan. This weekend, we ate out once but the meal lasted us many meals and the leftovers were stretched with other food/veggies.

As for meal prep, I don't really think I spend all that much time. I may spend an hour making a couple dishes that last a few days.

Today, I spent 30 minutes making salads for lunches tomorrow, dinner tomorrow and lunches the next day. I also made some cut up veggies for snacks for 2 days.

On friday, I spent an hour making 2 main dishes that should last DH and I for lunches and dinners until Wednesday. (We eat out on Weekends so we ate out on Saturday and it lasted both of us 4 meals, Saturday Lunch, Saturday Dinner, Sunday Lunch and Sunday Dinner) On Wednesday, I'll probably make another couple dishes to last another few days. It depends though because this is an off week and we aren't sure what we are doing on Thanksgiving day or the day after.

So in a week, I'd say I spend about 2-3 hours shopping and 2-4 hours meal prep. That comes out to about an hour a day worst case but again it really depends on what I decide to make.

11-19-2007, 12:54 AM
I never... ever.. ever.. eat out and I work in a restaurant. I dont eat there. lol If I eat out.. Im going to eat sushi, because I cant roll it. Since I have become a vegetarian :) I suppose I wont be going out to eat sushi. Ok Ok.. maybe once is a while I would crack down and eat some sushi.. I love fish, and I wouldnt trying the vegetarian lifestyle if fish wasnt so dang high in mercury :(

The reason i dont eat out even when I was eatting flesh, is because even grilled chicken and broccoli finds a way to be 600-700 calories. You would have to say NO BUTTER. To get it down, and I really can think of ALOT more tasty things than bland chicken and broccoli.

11-19-2007, 07:57 AM
I eat out one or two times a week. I wish I could say I'm as disciplined as some of the others on this post, but I'm not! This week I went out on Friday to a barbecue place. Everyone split a chili nachos appetizer, and then I got a caesar salad. Lately my restaurant strategy has been to cut down on my drinking, so I usually get a glass of wine or a lite beer (instead of margaritas and martinis!).

I don't love cooking, so I rarely spent that much time preparing meals at home. I usually eat frozen meals. If I do cook something, it's something simple like spaghetti.

11-19-2007, 08:47 AM
We eat out a fair amount--often 3 times or more in a week. But I know how to order at the places we go. Sometimes I'll check calorie counts ahead of time on line. Or, at Applebee's, for example, I'll order from the WW menu. Or, there's a place called Sweet Tomatoes which is a buffet with lots of salads and vegetables. Here I can make my own choices.

Some of the rules I try to follow:
- Salad dressing always on the side.
- No potatoes unless it's WW menu (and thus limited).
- No pasta salads or other pasta.
- No bread.
- Only clear-broth soups--no cheesy soups, chili, etc.
- No cream sauces or cheese, unless it's WW menu.
- Lean grilled chicken, fish, or beef.
- If there is too much on the plate, I decide what gets saved for later right from the beginning. For example, if it's a 7-ounce steak, I usually eat only half. I divide other foods accordingly as well.
- No dessert.

For meal preparation at home, I am not into cooking, so I eat a lot of frozen meals (Lean Cuisines) and frozen vegetables, with bag salads. Breakfast is usually granola or some eggs or a homemade shake. I know the calorie counts of everything I eat.


11-19-2007, 08:58 AM
Jay -- I love sweet tomatoes too, and just went there last night! They used to have menu booklets right there, but a lot of the info is online. I always start with a big salad, which I make with vinegar only. There are always some low-cal soups, and they have these little bran muffins which are 80 calories each.

We used to go there before we changed how we eat and I know we could easily eat 2000 calories without thinking about it!

11-19-2007, 09:04 AM
Oh yes... perhaps where you live, Heather, you've noticed how many overweight people there are eating at Sweet Tomatoes, probably thinking they are eating "healthy" and "low cal." Ha!

Last time I went there, I got out for under 500 calories, and that was with one of the small blueberry muffins.


11-19-2007, 10:04 AM
Huh well that's a good question. I only eat out usually twice a week either at a sit down restaurant or fast food. We are working on not even doing that. With Thanksgiving coming up this week we won't be going out to eat since we'll have left overs :-). We've really cut down on our fast food consumption and we're saving close to 300 a month. I just ate at IHOP yesterday morning probably for the first time in 6 months and I enjoyed every single bite of my meal. As far as food prep, JayEll pretty much summed it up for me. I spend probably about an hour a day cooking. On Sundays when I go to the grocery store it's probably closer to 2 hours since I prep my food and etc.

11-19-2007, 10:23 AM
Jay, Heather,

I love Sweet Tomatoes/Soup Plantation. When I went home to visit in California, one of my restaurant trips had to be Soup Plantation which DH and I went after a long walk at the San Diego zoo. I really wish there was a salad place here but there is none.

And I agree there are a lot of high calorie items there but I mostly stick with the salads, no salad dressing and I did splurge on a brownie muffin :)

11-19-2007, 01:44 PM
This is a great topic. We usually eat out about twice a week. It would be a lot more if it were up to the rest of my family. We like to eat out but I can't afford the calories.

My problem is the lack of willpower too. I usually eat salads every day for dinner so the thought of another one at a restaurant is not appealing. If I'm paying for it, I want something "different" that I wouldn't make for myself. I don't order drinks or appetizers or dessert.

How do I balance this thought with looking for the healthy menu items? Mostly I do order what I want and then eat only half and take the other half home. Any other ideas?

11-19-2007, 01:53 PM

One thing I did when I decided I needed to curb my eating out calories was to choose different restaurants, especially restaurants where I am more in control of the food. Many restaurants also post their nutritional information so it is helpful to at least peruse it before you go.

My favorite places include
1 - Chipotle: I can tell them exactly what to put on my plate although sometimes they are a bit too generous and I may have to scrape off some of the higher calorie foods such as guacamole

2 - Mongolian BBQ - you pick what goes in your bowl, they grill it. Yes they do use some oil but I really consider it minimal and also I usually have leftovers.

3 - Healthier chinese places - I am fortunate to live where there are quite a few authentic chinese restaurants. Some of the food is high fat but I have found a good place that tries to use minimal amount of oil and will tell you if their dishes are pan fried or deep fried. They also have lots of steamed options.

4 - Panera - I have a love for Panera because they do have a lot of options for me and I rather not buy bread but eat a sandwich out on occasion. I can also tell them to skip certain high calorie ingredients and they will.

Other restaurants... basically if you know the general calories in dishes then you won't be surprised. Also, restaurants generally serve huge portions so cutting your dish in half is good practice no matter where you go. Also, don't be afraid to customize your dish. Ask for no oil, no butter, sauce on the side, etc. You are paying for it, they can cater to your requests.

11-19-2007, 01:58 PM
We eat out lunch (me and the kids) 2-3 times a week, sometimes less. It is a sanity thing for me...as a SAHM I just want the heck out of the house. Once a week is a "tradition", once is practical (school ends at 11:30 in one town, we need to be in another town by 1 and home is the opposite direction, easier to eat out) and if there is a 3rd it is meeting up with a friend or something.

We usually go out to dinner about once a week

Both have been less lately as ds is going through a cranky stage, but he seems through it - knock wood.

I find eating out helps my diet when I am in a commited place, it only hurts my diet when I am in a self-sabotaging spirit.

11-19-2007, 02:06 PM
I eat out every Friday as Friday is family night and we try to go to a diff resturant every friday. I order baked/grilled fish or chicken & sometimes steak, side salad & veggies and I get my sauces on the side.

11-19-2007, 02:20 PM
Oh yes... perhaps where you live, Heather, you've noticed how many overweight people there are eating at Sweet Tomatoes, probably thinking they are eating "healthy" and "low cal." Ha!


We have definitely noticed that. Heck, we used to be those people! :)

11-19-2007, 02:40 PM
As was I, Heather, as was I... I'm embarrassed to think of how much soft-serve ice cream I used to put away after my "healthy" lunch... :o


11-19-2007, 03:17 PM
Sometimes I'll have a lot of business meals one week... but I usually have only one a week now... then I go out on payday every other week with my roomie. But, I stick to vegetables/salad bar and skip mayo, sauces, cheese and butter and only eat lean meat. I had some of a deep fried appetizer for the first time in months this past weekend.. and it stayed in my stomach ALL day.

11-19-2007, 03:33 PM
DH & I go out to eat a lot less ever since we bought our own home over 2 years ago. Now, I would say that we go out maybe once every 6 weeks.

11-19-2007, 04:16 PM
We eat out an average of twice a week. Sometimes less. I usually bring my lunches, but occasionally I order fast food and get a salad, sandwich or chili. When the family goes out, I usually get a grilled chicken salad, dressing on the side, or something similar.

My time in the kitchen is extremely hard to estimate. Some weeks, I spend hours in the kitchen. Other weeks, it's quick foods all week long. I would estimate that I spend 6 - 8 hours cooking each week. Our lives are hectic (aren't we all!) and things fluctuate from week to week.

11-19-2007, 08:53 PM
I eat out several times a week. I usually order grilled chicken or fish with no sauces and veggies. Steamed if they got em, or a salad with light dressing.

I hate cooking. When I do cook, it takes about 15 or 20 minutes and I fix a large meal to go for both lunch and dinner. Like yesterday, I threw some salmon on the Foreman grill, fixed some Lipton whole wheat Alfredo on the stovetop, and nuked a back of Steamfresh veggies. Total prep time was about 15 minutes.

11-20-2007, 05:56 PM
Like Jay, I am not into cooking. My girlfriend is, though, and she doesn't mind spending an hour in the kitchen preparing a good meal on SOME days.

We still end up going out to eat at least twice a week. We also order food frequently.

I look up every place we go to on dietfacts.com. If it's not listed, then I will order the healthiest options possible (things like grilled chicken or grilled/steamed seafood, mixed and/or grilled vegetables, dressing on the side). I also make sure they know not to put butter and sour cream on anything.

11-21-2007, 05:03 PM
We eat out about 1 a week or less. It used to be more often, but the past several months it's been about 1 a week or less. I am not at a point that I can feel satisfied with steamed veggies and protein yet (although I hope to get to that point), or a salad. I try to eat out at restaurants that I can get something I feel is a treat. For instance, I will go to the thai restaurant and order mixed veggies with chicken and only eat 1/2 the rice. Or I will eat a chicken healthmex burrito from Rubio's. Sometimes, though, I screw up...the other day, we went to IHOP and I ordered the appetizer sampler platter and ate every bit of it. Things like that are what stall my weightloss. The less I eat out, the better it is for me because I don't trust myself at a restaurant.

My husband and I take turns cooking, I cook 4 days a week and he the other 3. It takes a couple of hours at the grocery store (per week) because we go to 3 different stores to save money. It takes between 1 hour - 90 minutes to cook per day...for lunch we have leftovers and dinner we make a nice healthy meal.

11-22-2007, 01:05 AM
The less I eat out, the better it is for me because I don't trust myself at a restaurant.
I've learned a few tricks about eating out. I have certain places I frequent that serve a healthier menu and I know what I'm getting before I go. You can check their website and see the nutrition information and decide on a meal plan before going out.

When you get to the table, lay the desert menu face down, put a napkin over it if need be. That is if you're like I am and tempted by deserts. ;)

And, if hubby's not picky about his food, taste it. It can satisfy you to just have a taste of something, yet eat something healthier. I pick off hubby's plate all the time. He's used to it. LOL

11-23-2007, 07:20 PM
We average about once a week. Sometimes it's twice, sometimes it's zero. I love Chipotle, Chevy's, local Italian and local Mexican.

Breakfast and lunch are quick around here, just a few mins. I cook from scratch, so dinner is usually 30-45 mins.

11-24-2007, 08:53 AM
Probably an average of once a week. But I still make wise choices, inside the house or not..

McDonalds/ fast food joints- occasionally, but I always split a meal with another person

fancy restuarants- barely. When my sister comes home for the holidays, MAYBE.

regular dine-in joints- about once a week, with my mom.

11-24-2007, 09:30 AM
Angie and I usually eat out once a week for "date night" ~ most of the time it is for Italian or Mexican food ~ since my journey started ~ have been eating a lot more salmon and veggies when we go out ~ If we go to a chain restaraunt I try to print out a nutrion list to help me choose ~ Although I personally am not a big Outback Steakhouse fan, I found they do a great job on helping you make your meal "better for you" on their website ~ We order pizza probably every 4-6 weeks or so ~ if we do fast food it is rare...very rare ~ the closet I have been to a fast food joint in 4 months was once for KFC and once for Rubio's Health Mex

Cooking at home takes a lot of planning and prep on my part but I really enjoy it if I have time ~ Angie has the Rachael Ray speed down ~ while I am still reading the recipe and getting all my ingredients out...she is done!