Wining and Dining on a Budget/Diet

by Mike Holman

I thought I would write a post about saving money and calories when eating out because like a lot of people I tend to eat out more around the holidays with work functions and family and friend get-togethers. Since I’m trying to lose weight along with limit my spending, these events can work against my goals.

I’m going to use a recent night out as an example of how I tried to save money and calories and still have a good time. I met up with some friends I used to work with at the Marche which is a great place for big groups because they have good food, separate bills and no tips!! Normally I like to have a beer or two (or more) at this type of function which can add greatly to the bill so this time I decided not to have any drinks. Since nobody else at the event was drinking very much I didn’t miss having a drink at all. It might have been different if everyone else was getting loaded but that was not the case here. I estimate I probably saved $20 from this action and quite a few calories. Another benefit of not drinking is that I was able to drive. Although I did pay $5 for parking, a cab home after drinks would have cost about $15.

For my food choices I had the potato rosti and salmon which is my favourite at the Marche. Normally I get sour cream as well but in the interests of my diet I passed on this extra. I have to admit that the dish just wasn’t the same without the sour cream which leads me to another lesson I have learned. “Diet” versions of yummy foods don’t work. If you want to cut calories and fat then choose a food that you like that has less calories and fat. Getting a “low fat” version of something you love or eliminating a key ingredient (sour cream) will probably just disappoint you. Being on a diet doesn’t mean you can’t eat “bad” foods but you have to limit your overall intake so be prepared to “make up” for a night out if you do decide to pig out. Another action I took was to avoid dessert. Normally at the Marche I have a chocolate pudding which is really good but I know it’s pure evil in terms of calories.

Lessons learned at the restaurant:

  1. Don’t drink alcohol or at least limit yourself – buy a six-pack of the cheap stuff on the way home if you have to.
  2. Don’t skimp too much on the food you like. If you want a certain non-diet dish then get it, but make up for it by having salad instead of dessert. And don’t leave out the sour cream if it’s necessary. :)
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