Eating Convenient vs. Eating Out

There is an interesting sort of pattern that often occurs (at least for me) when you are away from your own kitchen.  Whether you are traveling for work, vacation or moving, it seems like a good idea to try to eat in your room or have a picnic.  Then you dutifully trek over the local grocery store or even convenience store and discover that the foods that will work in your particular situation cost much more than you usually spend on food.  Frustrated by the idea of buying everything somewhat prepared, and not wanting to lay in an entire pantry in your temporary home, you give up and decide to eat in restaurants.

I have to say, oddly, that I’m glad that there isn’t a decent restaurant on the base that we are currently calling a temporary home.  It is a lot easier to force yourself to cook under challenging circumstances when there aren’t other good options.  Even so, I find myself frustrated.

Let me give you an example:  When we are in a hotel, I usually try to buy a precut vegetable tray.  Ridiculously expensive, right?  Yes, but still worth the cost if a) it gets my family eating vegetables and b) we aren’t going out to eat for a snack because we are just a little hungry.  Another example:  buying little sizes of stuff.  Drives me crazy to buy individual portions, but it is the right choice for right now.

I haven’t even addressed the nutrition factor.  I often look at the convenient foods in the grocery store and think to myself, “Self, I’m not feeding that junk to my family.”  Okay, it might not be ideal, and it might not be a diet that I want my family to eat for their entire lives, but chances are that some of the worst choices at the grocery store are still better than nearly everything at a restaurant.  Entrees from the frozen food aisle are high in fat and calories, but not so bad when you compare them to eating out.

So, what’s my point?  When you get to the grocery store, don’t flip out when it looks like a lot of money.  Most of the time, it is still a good choice.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • Norma Keith

    My husband is now retired Army (of 26 years)…I liked this article and just wanted to add a couple of points. Many canned foods now come with “pull tops” such as fruits and some meats, beanie weenies, soups, etc. for convenience. Still getting some pretty good nutrition in the diet and convenience and safe and easy storage w/o refrigeration. Fresh fruits are also a good choice….wash and eat, easy storage. Whole grain crackers and hard cheeses are a healthy choice and easy storage as well. Just wanted to share from my own experience as an Army wife….now retired!

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