One-Month Challenge: All Cooking, All the Time

[Everyone’s got a vice, a bad habit, something they know they need to change. Unfortunately, everyone also has a million excuses why they just can’t do it. Not anymore. Every month we will be following a different CollegeCandy writer as she takes on a personal challenge. Last month Lauren (sorta) gave up chocolate. For April, Jill is going to give up restaurants. And it’s not lookin’ good.]

I love eating out.

I love the socializing. I love the food. I love the people watching. (Like the hottie-with-a-body manager at my favorite resto. Why, yes, I WILL have some of your famous carrot cake, thank you!) I love the excuse to get dessert because you have friends to share it with. I love the convenience and I love the opportunity to try new things that I would never make myself at home.

And by “never make myself at home” I mean, things that take more preparation than pouring milk on my cereal or tomato sauce on my veggies. Yeah, I’m so gourmet like that.

Truth be told, after living in my apartment for over two years, a friend had to teach me how to use my dishwasher after a party I had. Yes, you just read that correctly. Two years. Never used my dishwasher. If only my mom (and world’s best cook) could see me now; she’d be BEAMING with pride.

But after shelling out big bucks for a last minute travel adventure in the land of Oz, I took one look at my very depressing bank account and it became more and more clear how much I spend on dining out (or carrying in). I promised myself I would reel it in, venture into cooking, and dine out less. Because as it turns out, in the world where food meets saving cash – there really is no place like home.

…But then my co-workers invited me for an amazing Italian meal. And then my college roommate’s cousin was in town and wanted me to join them for dinner. And then my besties thought we should do brunch this weekend. And if there is one thing I can’t say no to, it’s brunch. If my world was The Giver, Brunch would be my Utopia.

But not so utopia-ic: my bank account was dwindling, my muffin top was growing (and I’m not talking about the delish muffin I ordered at said brunch with the besties) and my plans to become my own Top Chef Master were simply non-existent. But not having my own Padma Lakshmi telling me that I would win $10,000 – furnished by Buitoni – for my first Quick Fire (or my first actual fire, knowing my cooking skills) didn’t help my stay-in-and-cook case.

Then I remembered that here at CC one of our very own writers took on a challenge to eat in for 30 days and I knew unless I had someone holding me accountable (Y-O-U!) I would forever be dining out wishing I had the will power and culinary skills to dine in. So here I am: spending April cooking all of my own meals.

I set up some ground rules for myself to keep me both successful and sane at this challenge:

1) I must make at least one new recipe every week.
2) Coffee and tea out are okay.
3) Side salads from my work cafe are OK to supplement (our meals are subsidized here and veggies from our salad bar cost less than purchasing the ingredients myself).

So with my new set of rules, some recipes from friends (and cookbooks that have sat untouched in my apartment for the last 4 years) I’m off… And even though everyone thinks I am crazy and no one thinks I’ll last more than 3 days, I’m feeling positive, upbeat and excited for the results. I’m also avoiding my phone for any brunch invites for tomorrow- I’m not sure ill be able to resist!

Will I become a culinary goddess who can rival Martha Stewart, Rachel Ray and Giada in a head-to-head challenge? Will I lose weight? Go crazy and turn into an introverted, anti-social hot mess? Save enough money to buy myself an island (or a pair of Lululemons?)

Check back next Saturday – and the following Saturdays after that – to see. Or better yet, join in on the One-Month Challenge fun!

[Check out the other One Month Challenges we’ve taken on. And if you’ve got a challenge you want to tackle (and be held accountable for), email us and we could feature you next month. Come on – it’s good for you!]

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