Sunday, May 02, 2010

Simple Living: Eating Out

I recently watched a rerun of an Oprah show on voluntary simplicity. It was such an inspiring show that I visited Oprah's website to read the comments. It was a little depressing to find that many of the comments were from people who felt that they can't afford to live more simply.

This seems counterintuitive to me, because needing less money to survive is one of the major points of simple living. It was emphasized on the show; for example, one woman was comfortably supporting a family herself as an elderly caregiver, which pays just a bit more than minimum wage. If you can live comfortably on a smaller income, you are free to either find a job you love more, or to work less hours. Simple living is a frugal choice, without any kind of investment needed. It's hard to see how using less electricity would cost more, unless you think the only way to scale back is to go solar.

I have been thinking about my blog for a while, but unsure of what to post here. I hate sounding preachy, and for the record, I don't think I am always a model of green living. However, I am doing my best on a daily basis to use less and less, and to make what I use more meaningful. After reading the comments on Oprah's website, I decided to devote space here to cheap, common sense ways of living a little more simply.

Here is one tip on scaling back on eating out, something which kills many American budgets. We all have our favorite restaurants. Figure out how much you spend for one fast food meal. In my case, it's about $4-5 per person. Next, figure out how much a meal at your favorite restaurant would cost. My favorite cuisine is Indian, so I'm looking at $12-15 per person. Is one Indian meal worth three drive thru meals? Absolutely, at least to me.

We don't eat fast food a lot, but I certainly know it is there in an emergency. We have fewer 'emergencies' if I know there is an Indian restaurant visit coming a little closer every time I think ahead and pack sandwiches. Trading food we really don't like for more food we love is not a hard switch, but these are the decisions that will get you on the road to more simple living.