Today I am going to talk about eating out when you live in a rural place.
We live 45 minutes away from McDonalds. It is in towns that we rarely go to. Lamb 1 was almost 3 years old before he even tried McDonalds food. There are some fast food restaurants but there aren't a lot and many of the small towns near here all have the same fast food restaurants (Subway, DQ, etc.). Of course there aren't any restaurants except for the local cafe in the small town we live in.
When we first moved here I went to a Pampered Chef party. The question was asked, how often do you cook? I was shocked that most of the local people (farm wives) that answered rarely cooked, they almost always ate out. I couldn't understand that-where were they eating out? Then I thought about how often there are benefit dinners here and church fundraiser dinners (there are a lot of churches). The small towns have for example taco nights at VFW etc. Some of the locals meet their friends at the local cafe almost daily. There are supper clubs and other local restaurants in the small towns near us. After living in Fort Wayne which is known for both it's churches and it's restaurants, it took me a little while to get used to this.
Ram decided to take the Lambs one at a time to the local cafe once a week for breakfast. This gives them each some time with Ram alone and he also visits with the locals. I do think it is important for the pastor to meet the locals where they hang out.
We can't afford to eat out often and the choices to eat out are not as many as in the city. When we travel (for shopping/vacations/Ram's conferences or meetings) we try to eat out one nice meal and either bring snacks or eat fast food for the other meal if we are gone for two meals that day. I think of a local that I talked to that said when they traveled to family several times a year 3 hours away when she was a child, they always packed a lunch. They never would have thought of stopping and paying for a meal. When we travel we pack lots of snacks, sometimes something like cheese and sausage to hold us over until we get to a restaurant.
We also eat out local for special occasions a few times a year like Mother's Day and Father's Day. But we don't do that every special occasion, sometimes we cook a nice meal at home. We were at Applebees a few weeks ago and I saw a little boy (maybe 3) celebrating his birthday. I couldn't imagine taking a 3 year old to Applebees for his birthday-we have celebrated all the Lambs birthdays at home.
I'll admit that there have been times that Ram traveled and I stayed home with the Lambs that I was jealous that he would have chances to eat out and I wouldn't. But it seems like some of those times he was eating with a group of friends and had no choice where he ate out. Or the kind of food that he would prefer he couldn't find that kind of restaurant. I learned that was a silly thing to be jealous about. I also know that even if we lived in a big city there would be many times that he would eat out as a pastor that I would stay home with the Lambs and not get to eat out.
Sometimes (not every time) when we get to a big city we eat out a nicer meal than we usually would, and I justify it as we only ate out once that month. Often if we eat at a buffet or at lunch it is much cheaper. When Ram went to Mayo for his checkup we ate lunch one day at an Indian food buffet. The food was excellent and unlimited trips to the buffet. All of us loved the food. I couldn't believe the bill was much cheaper than if we would have eaten at Applebees. Plus I would go crazy if we stayed at home ALL the time, it is a good way for us to go out to eat as a family once or twice a month. Because we don't eat out locally very often, I can justify spending a little more money once or twice a month on travel days.
Sometimes when we get to a big city we give the Lambs a list of what restaurants we know are in town and let them choose where we eat. They often pick restaurants where they know they will get full-like a restaurant with gyros.
I also had to get used to trying new restaurants in different towns (both local and on trips). There aren't a lot of chain restaurants. Some of the small restaurants are excellent. A local restaurant we like to go to doesn't always have a lot of business. When the Lambs were younger sometimes the owner would offer to hold the baby so we could eat. If a Lamb fell asleep I would set them on the floor on a blanket and Ram and I would have one less Lamb to watch during dinner. I know I never could have done that in a large city. Most of the time we don't have to wait for a table. When we get to a larger city we try to find a non-chain restaurant because it is usually cheaper and better food. We also try to go some place that we can't get locally like an Indian food restaurant while we have a chance.
What I do miss is it is impossible for Ram and I to go out on a date to go out to eat without the Lambs. For our last anniversary we took the Lambs to Mongolian Grill (in a big city) for lunch. We just live too far away from restaurants to go out on a date to them. It is too difficult to get a babysitter and I need to save a babysitter for when I really need it. We have taken advantage of when my parents visited they watch the Lambs so we can go out. When we visited my parents last time they watched the Lambs so Ram and I could go out to the restaurant where we went out on our first date. Small chances like that have helped. Perhaps this will get better as the Lambs get older too.
What do you do about eating out when you live in a rural place?
Since we don't eat out often, we cook at home most of the time. Check back tomorrow for tips about cooking at home when you live in a rural place.