I love going out to eat with my husband. I love leaving the kids behind for a couple of hours and not planning anything for dinner and having a peaceful meal and no dishes to do afterwards (at least not until I get back home).
But the more interested I became in eating healthfully, the more disappointed I was with the choices on the menu. White grains, saturated fats, melted cheese, mmm, and you know they aren’t going to sacrifice any flavor for nutrition. I was already paying more than I wanted to for the food, at least it should be something I didn’t have to regret eating. Sure, a splurge here and there is nice, but if I splurged every Friday night, my splurge passes were used up way too fast and not necessarily on what I would have wanted. (By the way, If anyone has healthy restaurant suggestions, particularly if they aren’t expensive, I’d love them.)
So, I started a healthy dinner group. I talked to friends I thought might be interested and sent out an email invitation to a bunch of women in my social network. We ended up with 12 couples! (Maybe it was just 8 couples the first year, then we grew to 12 the second year.) Several of the husbands were hesitant, but after joining us once, they’ve all found it wasn’t as scary as they thought it might be. We decided to divide up into 3 different dinners with 4 couples at each. The host would be in charge of the dinner and have an assistant assigned. The other two couples could just show up and enjoy.
We set up a schedule to meet one Friday each month, excluding November and December, and over the summer just meeting once for a healthy picnic and softball game with the whole family invited.
Here is an outline of the “bylaws”
1) Let your guests know if there are any changes in the date or time of your dinner.
2) Plan your dinner and entertainment/activity afterwards.
3) Delegate something to your assistant. Let them help you where you need it.
4) Contact everyone attending your dinner (if they didn’t already RSVP).
5) Make it happen.
1) Help your host. Come early, if that is the plan.
2) Prepare part of the dinner.
1) RSVP (if you have specific eating requirements, discuss with host)
2) Show up and eat. If your husband needs special consideration, you give it to him so he doesn’t beg you to quit the group. You are welcome to consult your host and bring along another dish.
Goals of the group:
1) Learn to prepare more healthy meals. Just what is “healthy” is up to the discretion of the host, but should recognize that we all need to enjoy more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and less animal products (if you serve meat, it should be optional), sugars, and saturated fats.
2) Enjoy a date night with great company, a meal that is better for your body and your wallet, and more fun than if you went to a restaurant.
I’ve enjoyed seeing what the other hosts make and the new things I learn. We have couples that are grandparents, others just out of school, as well as those in between, and we’ve enjoyed getting to know each of them. I still enjoy eating out at a restaurant occasionally, but we’ve benefited physically, financially, and socially from participating in our healthy eating dinner group.