I Didn’t Order Food Or Eat Out For Two Weeks — Here’s What Happened

Photo: Thinkstock

Here’s the thing, I really like to cook, but I’m lazy about it. I’m a food editor, yet I order Seamless, A LOT. On weekdays, I don’t get home until after 7 p.m., and by that time I want dinner ASAP. When the weekend rolls around, it’s nice to splurge by going out to brunch, or dinner, or drinks with friends. So, needless to say, ordering/going out has been a big part of how I eat for quite some time now.

After complaining about my seemingly unbreakable Seamless habit to my boss one too many times, she proposed a challenge. Could I JUST eat things that I cooked for myself for two weeks straight? The gauntlet had been thrown and my competitive nature overtook my inner fear of letting go of takeout. “Of course, I can,” I said. “Let’s do it.”

Starting a #foodexperiment today where I don’t eat out/order in. #nomoreMaple #insider29 by @ericagannett

A photo posted by Zoe Bain (@zeeeebs) on Sep 1, 2015 at 10:44am PDT

We decided it would be way too easy if I still had access to the unlimited snacks and caffeine at Refinery29. So I sadly said goodbye to the free cold brew and gave away all of the food samples that came across my desk during this time. I couldn’t eat out or order in at all. I also couldn’t eat anything that wasn’t homemade, or anything that wasn’t purchased while shopping for my upcoming meals at the supermarket. Even a bite of someone else’s food that they bought was cheating. And, I had to pack my own lunch every. single. day.

Despite knowing that it was coming for weeks in advance, this food experiment really snuck up on me. Instead of taking the weekend to plan out my meals, I waited until Monday night (I officially started the challenge on a Tuesday), panicked, and set out to the grocery store after work so I would at least have lunch and maybe something to make for dinner on Tuesday. Oy vey!

Breakfast: Coffee, cantaloupe, a baggie of dry Honey Bunches of Oats
Lunch: Leftover quinoa with tomato sauce, corn, and zucchini, a baggie of Popchips, and a nectarine
Dinner: Pesto chicken, roasted potatoes, and roasted carrots
Dessert: Fruit

The panic has set in fully now, and I crankily forgo my snooze button so I can make coffee and pack my lunch. I drink my coffee en route to the subway thinking, “Hey, this is kind of nice!” At work, I Gchat my boyfriend about what on earth we can have for dinner. My previous night’s trip to the supermarket was a little haphazard to say the least, and I returned home with chicken, mushrooms, onions, carrots, potatoes, and a bunch of snacks, but nothing to make a sauce or bring the whole thing together. He suggests pesto because we have a ton of leftover basil from the farmer’s market. I breathe easy and call him a genius. Phew, I survived day 1, only 14 more days to go. 

Breakfast: Coffee, cantaloupe, toast with jam
Lunch: Pesto chicken, potatoes, carrots, plus rice cakes and another nectarine
Dinner: Pasta with pesto and sautéed mushrooms, onions, and pecorino

I start to really miss the cold brew at work. Despite it being September, it’s still too warm out to be drinking hot coffee on my commute. It’s only day TWO I tell myself, get it together! I DON’T want more chicken for dinner so I decide to have pasta with leftover pesto, but alas we don’t have pasta. I am ravenous on the train home because I haven’t eaten anything since lunch and my train stops for 15 minutes while going over the Williamsburg Bridge. My subway rage is worse than usual. It’s like RAGE. I pause to consider if this is perhaps also cold brew withdrawal. My home-brew just doesn’t pack the same punch. I stop at the store to get pasta and then finally get home to cook. It’s super satisfying when I finally finish cooking the meal, but I didn’t end up eating until around 8:30 or 9 p.m.

Breakfast: Coffee and a raspberry Noosa yogurt
Lunch: More of the same from yesterday, plus one Laughing Cow Cheese because I’m the worst
Dinner: More pasta with pesto for dinner

I’m the worst and I cheat and eat one Laughing Cow Pepper Jack Cheese that I get in the mail. I get more food in the mail today than I’ve ever received in my life (probably just to torture me) including yogurt, cheese, and coconut water. Plus, there is free pizza at the office in the late afternoon. To quell my jealousy, I eat a nectarine. WOMP. Has it been two weeks yet?!

Breakfast: Toast and jam for breakfast
Lunch: Scrambled eggs for lunch
Dinner: Almond butter and jelly sandwich

Today is a sad showing. It’s the day before Labor Day weekend and I work from home, partially to avoid the free bagels that R29 brings in on Fridays. Typically when there’s a long weekend, I give myself one day to stay in bed, order in enough food for the entire day, and watch bad reruns of cop shows on TV. Clearly I’m worried about this weekend’s prospects. 

Just like mom used to make. (Running out of lunch ideas.) #pbj #foodexperiment

A photo posted by Zoe Bain (@zeeeebs) on Sep 9, 2015 at 11:47am PDT

Brunch: Pancakes
Dinner: This soup

Did I mention I have the apartment to myself this weekend so there is no one to nag me into getting up and going to the store, or telling me I should probably plan my meals for next week? Oh, well. I somehow manage to get up. In the Bain family, we have a tradition that wealways have pancakes on Sunday mornings (it’s Saturday), but I am running out of options so I stick to what I know. For dinner my friend comes over to cook with me. Half way through dinner, I realize that this is probably the first contact I’ve had all weekend, unless you count my cats (don’t judge!)

Breakfast: Toast with almond butter and jelly
Lunch: Leftover soup
Dinner: Gouda quesadilla and a salad with avocado, peppers, and tomatoes

I head to my friend’s house in the afternoon, where she is packing up to move. Upon the realization that she is planning to eat leftover pizza for dinner, she is now forced to come to the supermarket with me so I can figure out something to make. I eat my quesadilla while she, her mom, and her boyfriend eat pizza. But, the quesadilla was actually really good, so I’m not complaining! Look at me, being all positive! YES.

Brunch: Coffee, eggs, bacon, potatoes with onions, mushrooms, and peppers, and frozen biscuits
Snack: Banana bread
Dinner: Chicken sausage with sautéed mushrooms and onions over quinoa drizzled with soy sauce and Sriracha

Normally I’d go out to brunch at some point during Labor Day weekend, but today a friend comes over for brunch instead. Then we bake, so I have breakfasts to take to work for the week (banana bread is a perfectly acceptable breakfast item in my book!) and I manage to make dinner out of a bunch of random shit in the fridge, so I’m feeling good.

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