TWITTER: @sirbacon123

07 April 2010

As Good As Olive Garden

For those of you that don’t know me, which is most of you, I think it is finally time for me to tell you something important about me.
I love food.
I love spicy food.   I love healthy food.   I love all types of food.
I’ll try anything once.   And if I don’t like it, I’ll try it again to make sure that I didn’t like it.
Unfortunately, I have spent the majority of my life enjoying it too much.
Funny story.  I used to work with a guy nicknamed Fat.  He was skinny by the way.
Well one day, a new co-worker came over to our office to say hello and she asked me, “Are you Fat?”
Of course, I had to be honest.   So I said yes.
Thankfully, that was 50 pounds ago.
With my unemployment, I now workout every morning and am burning off enough calories to make up for my appetite.
That hour on the elliptical machine is a hidden bonus of not working, which may sound a little like, “other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?”, but I guess unemployment does have its privileges.
I’m far from a food snob, in fact, I enjoy eating at the greasy Mexican street corner restaurants in Los Angeles as much as anywhere.
I do also enjoy a good overpriced steak from time-to-time, but considering the new-and-not-improved family budget, those nights out don’t happen much anymore.
As I’ve said before, grocery shopping has become one of my hobbies.  Maybe its the challenge of using coupons to save as much as possible.
Is there anything better than getting a great deal on something you don’t need?
I cook at home for the family as much as I can.  That’s a huge savings.   My wife also does a lot of cooking as well.
Fortunately, the kids are not really that picky.
Recently my oldest daughter decided that she no longer wants to eat red meat, so we have found plenty of other options to keep her happy.
The other night our family of five enjoyed a homemade Italian meal for a grand total of about $10.   
$5.00 for the chicken, $1.50 for the tomato sauce, $1.00 for spaghetti, $1.50 for the salad, $1.00 for garlic bread, plus a little here, little there for the cheese, oil and salad dressing.
According to my son, “Mom, this is just as good as Olive Garden.”
Now that’s a compliment if I’ve ever heard one.
Of course, the same meal at Olive Garden would’ve cost us at least $50.
But the breadsticks are all-you-can-eat.
In my working days, we used to aim a wee-bit higher than the Olive Garden when it was time for a family night out.
But to be honest, I think we all enjoyed the time together more than the food.
These days we need to be a lot more picky about when and where we want to eat out.   I keep an envelope of restaurant coupons in my car and we try to take advantage of that.
The other night I was with a recently divorced friend, whose personal budget was destroyed more than mine, and he gave me a list of local restaurants where kids eat free on a given night.
It’s amazing what a little homework will do.
It’s also amazing what a little creativity can do.
Last week, I decided to create a little lunch best titled, “Refrigerator Leftover Surprise.”
I combined pasta, chili, chicken, sausage, chinese leftovers, plus some fresh onions, other veggies and garlic.
It was excellent.  And it was free.   In that order.
Once again proving my theory that if you add garlic to ANYTHING, it will taste good.
With home budgets being slashed now more than ever, I’m guessing that my situation is not that unique.
I pretty much do everything I can to keep the expenses down while hoping the kids believe that nothing has changed.
Sometimes that takes a little acting.
Hey kids, you want to go to Denny’s on Tuesday night?
Oh did I forget to mention that’s when kids eat free.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great Post.
It's true that garlic will make anything taste good.
This recipe is a personal favorite:
So cheap and so good.