As we all cut our expenses, pay down debt, and stare at our retirement plans in disbelief, the question everyone asks is, "when will this be over?" The pundits ask each other, the press asks Obama, and we ask the deities: we KNOW things will turn around, but the question is always when? It's like asking the dentist how much longer has has to drill.
That's actually no more fruitful a question than "how many weeks until I lose my twenty pounds and can go back to eating pizza?" The answer is, we will never be able to go back the way we were, because it is clearly unsustainable. Find the rainbow.
I actually don't care whether this is a blip on the screen or a total economic collapse because I have already made one life change that I will probably not reverse; I've started to cook again. And I love it.
For the past 25 years, I've been in business and have eaten just about every meal out, from the Starbucks breakfast to the Houston's dinner. I started eating out when I was too busy and life was too unpredictable for me to waste time cooking food my children wouldn't eat anyway. At least at a restaurant, everyone could order what they wanted for whatever stage (vegetarian, anorexic,) they were in.
The eating out continued when my kids grew up, the husband died, and I lived alone. I used the excuse that I needed the socializing. Dinner at an upscale bar was the routine. And a business lunch. And the daily Starbucks.
But I realized about a year ago that I was spending $2000 a month in restaurants (just look at your credit cards to find out what your number is) and I began to buy groceries.
I soon had a big epiphany: food made with high quality, fresh ingredients and cooked to my own specifications actually tastes much better than the over salted, over-seasoned stuff in restaurants, even really expensive restaurants.
Now my typical dinner is a chicken soup I create myself, a piece of fish or meat and some fresh vegetable (that I choose because it's in season, or organic, or on special), and a couple of glasses of red wine. I am not suffering. I eat the same stuff I ate in the restaurants, except that I am trying new wines (unusual wines not sold in bulk to bars) and strange vegetables. I'm probably healthier. And I "only" spend $300 a month for food. For company, I rely on my twitter and facebook friends, who are always there with me.
Oh, and I eat Endangered Species dark chocolate for dessert. I owe it to myself:-)