We're (not so) secretly hoping you'll take the challenge with us, which is why we've shared some of our personal favorite recipes with you, and created a hashtag #TakeOutTakeout, so we can all support each other to make it through to the end. (See here for the rules.) Plus, if you use our hashtag throughout the challenge, you might end up in this very post!
We'll be updating you on our trials, tribulations, successes, and failures everyday as we take on the challenge for the next two weeks. So check back here and follow along as we attempt to feed ourselves without the help of Seamless, office snacks, or Starbucks. If nothing else, you can have a few laughs at our expense.
Week 2 (Scroll down to see how we fared Week 1!)
Day 5, 6, 7: Can We Survive The Weekend?
2. This Challenge is starting to remind me of this one time that I decided to try a juice cleanse. I quit after eight hours because I was starving and realized that food and drink sharing is a huge part of my social life. (When I proudly told one of my friends that I had juice cleansed for eight hours she remarked, “So you skipped lunch for one day?” An excellent, though slightly annoying, point.)
Cooking at home has been easy enough, and I have made some pretty yummy meals that I probably wouldn’t have cooked otherwise. But would my experience of watching of The Revenant this weekend have been elevated by mouthfuls of buttery popcorn goodness? Yes. Would I have loved to have a cozy, frothy, comforting cappuccino from my local coffee shop when it was raining cats and dogs on Sunday? Yes. Did I resist all of those things in the name of science (okay fine, not science, but you know, this challenge and my allegiance to Zoe Bain)? YES. Did I cheat today by having an espresso at a morning meeting? YES. I’m SORRY.
Normally, I would just invite friends over for dinner and cook for everyone and socialize that way, but TBH this challenge has also made me realize that I am kind of a boring old lady these days (always?). I tend to wake up around 6 a.m., leave home at 7 or 8, and often don’t get home until after 6. The idea of cooking a dinner for multiple people, entertaining, and doing the dishes (and waiting for people to leave), is not really my idea of fun (and also an express train to me having a childish meltdown/tantrum due to tiredness).
On my menu this weekend was:
Sour Cream Pancakes
Roasted Chicken (again)
Gwenyth Paltrow’s Lamb Tagine
Tonight’s meal: Shepherd’s Pie
I made it through the weekend! A lot has happened since I had my pity party at the photo shoot last week. On Thursday night, I had an outside-the-box (you could call it creative) dinner date with a friend via Trader Joe’s. She’s eating super healthy in January, and I’m doing the challenge, so we couldn’t really eat anything together without going to the market first. We met up at TJ’s and did our shopping and then made a big salad at her place. It turned out being a great way to stock up on groceries during the week, and having a buddy made the whole experience (not to mention the never-ending TJ’s line) much more manageable.
Friday, I had a piece of toast and jam for breakfast and then, thanks to a cat-related disaster (don’t ask), ended up having to work from home. I ate the tuna salad I had packed for lunch later in the afternoon and then my parents flew in from Los Angeles. They were super hungry by the time they got in, and I didn’t have time to cook anything good since it was a weekday so I picked them up food from my favorite Italian restaurant, after I was done working, and longingly watched them eat while I had quinoa with tomato sauce and spinach. NOT the same as handmade pasta with an eight-hour sauce. NOT the same.
Saturday, I made pancakes, which are delicious, so things were looking up. I use this Martha Stewart recipe, but add half a teaspoon of vanilla to the wet ingredients. For lunch on Saturday, I ate a power bar, boring, but I grocery shopped with my parents for a BUNCH of food for the weekend and coming week. More people = more arms = more groceries, score! Also, typically when my parents come to town ALL we do is eat out, so this was going to be an extra challenge. Saturday night I had people over and I made this salmon in parchment, which turned out to be WAY less expensive than going out, and everyone was impressed with my presentation!
As usual, you guys are totally impressing us.
Day 8: Dangerous Potatoes & Other TalesElettra: On Sunday night, I prepped my Monday dinner — shepherd’s pie. I had never made it before and I was surprised how fast it was! Though, note to self/anyone out there: Kitchen Aids do not mash potatoes. Also, please make sure your bowl is secured before turning the mixer on, because I didn't and had a minor food emergency that looked kind of like this:
Tonight I am making Smitten Kitchen's spaghetti squash tacos with black beans and queso fresco. I'll report back.
Day 9: What Do I Make For Dinner Tonight?!Elettra:
Last night, I made Smitten Kitchen’s spaghetti squash tacos, which I did not have high expectations for, but OMG they were SO AMAZING. The recipe served six, and my boyfriend and I scarfed down almost everything between just the two of us. I also made her roasted tomatoes and onion dish, which I am using for lunch today, mixed with some spaghetti. I’ll be bouncing all over the city today for various meetings, and having a packed lunch is making me feel like I am back in middle school. I want to say that I am getting better at planning out this food stuff, but for the last 10 days or so, I have consistently been about 15 to 30 minutes late because of food and drink logistics (mostly me running back home to make more coffee). I have no idea what I am going to make tonight for dinner, but I don’t really have time to think about it, so I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.
Yesterday was quite possibly my easiest day yet in challenge-land, but the reason why may or may not be a little pathetic on my part. At work, I had my oatmeal and leftover salmon and quinoa from the weekend (no complaints there!), but in the evening, I probably would have been stuck with more leftovers had it not been for Mom and Dad to the rescue.
Here's a taste of all the deliciousness you have been sharing:
Day 10: The Home Stretch
I had a long day of bouncing around NYC to various appointments and didn't get home until about 7:30 last night. On the way home, I picked up some salmon, fennel, spinach, scallions, and a leek. I sliced all the vegetables, threw them together in parchment paper, put the salmon over it with some thin slices of lemon, and baked for 20 minutes. All I can say is: divine! Seriously, it was the healthiest, yummiest, fastest dinner, ever. Yay! The sad news is that the salmon was so good that I scarfed down the extra portion I had made for today, telling myself I would just deal with the consequences in the morning (also, I was really hungry). That was a bad move. To make a long story short, I ended up bringing three-day-old shepherd's pie to work today and that's it. No snacks. No coffee. Nothing. Zoe had to feed me her Cheerios in a tiny tupperware container (a sure way to make anyone feel 3 years old again). Part of me blames my lack of "togetherness" on this on being sick of this challenge, and part of me just can't seem to get the timing of my mornings together. My mornings are usually reserved for working out, showering, work emails, writing, and walking the dogs. The extra time to meal plan is just not happening for me. Sigh. Well, just three more days to go.
I was going to sign off there, but then my conscience needed to confess to everyone that the literal second Zoe left for a meeting just now, I reached into my office desk chocolate supply — technically off limits — and had three chocolate pretzels. Okay, four. But that's it, I swear! I'm sorry, Zoe, and I am sorry to everyone who is reading this.
Yesterday, I did something revolutionary. I actually woke up in time to eat breakfast! I know, I know, crazy, right? I left myself about 15 minutes of extra time and I sat down like a normal person and had my coffee and Cheerios with bananas. Then, I felt great on the way to work and I didn’t have to lug my coffee to-go cup and an extra Tupperware along with me.
For lunch, I had some leftover avocado hummus rollups (recipe coming soon to R29 Food), and some pretzels. The afternoon was tough, because I got chips in the mail from two different companies and had to save them for possible future stories, so I worked all day flanked by chips that I couldn’t eat.
Days 11-14: We Did It!Elettra: So, as I think I mentioned about a week ago, I am also doing a 31-day meditation challenge: 20 minutes a day, every day, for 31 days. While meditating on Saturday, in the midst of “being mindful of my breathing,” my brain blurted out, “YOU ASSHOLE.” And then I realized I had thoughtlessly and unintentionally broken #TakeOutTakeout. That very morning, I rolled out of bed, went for a 3-mile run, and then got eggs and toast at a local diner without giving it even a second thought. I seriously and sincerely just totally forgot about the challenge. And that is really weird, and very unlike me (I blame the meditation). To pay my penance to you all, I added two whole additional days onto my Challenge. All day yesterday (first official day off from #TakeoutTakeout, I cooked all of my meals, and today I brought lunch to the office again. I’ll also be home cooking my dinner tonight.
These days, I have had no such crash. And I am not so sleepy at night, either. I sleep well, but then bounce out of bed the second my alarm goes off. Just this morning, I woke up at 4:16 a.m. thinking, Is it time to get up yet?! (For the record, I fell back asleep, but I popped right up when my alarm went off at 6 a.m.). Is it the fact that I am meditating every day? Is it my Dry January? Is it that I am eating only home-cooked meals right now? A combination of all of it? Whatever it is, I like the feeling and I won’t be returning to my Seamless-addicted ways again. It’s not possible to say I won’t order any takeout, or get an espresso on the road, but I’ll definitely be cooking for my lunches more. Today, I brought some homemade leftovers from last night: lamb shanks braised in pomegranate juice, topped with mint and pomegranate seeds over a bed of herbed bulgur wheat. When would you ever find that on Seamless?
Zoe: The end of the week was a little rough, because Refinery has bagel Fridays, but I ate my banana and daydreamed about eating bagels after the challenge is over, which is almost as good as eating a real bagel, right? (Sort of, not really.) I had leftover meatloaf for lunch, and then I promptly cheated. But, in my defense I had to cheat in the name of work, so I’ll let you decide how guilty I was. There was a new flavor of Oreo coming out, and I had to write the post on Friday so that it was ready to go on Tuesday morning when the Oreo was officially launching the product. They sent me samples, so I could talk about the flavor in the post and there was nothing I could do, except give in and eat them. (That last part might be slightly tainted by the fact that I ripped the package open like a Neanderthal and proceeded to eat five to six cookies instead of the one it could have taken me to get the story done. Oh, well.) The Oreos opened a up a childlike can of worms and for dinner I had pasta with butter and cheese. Still not takeout, but definitely not an ideal meal, either.
The cutest part of my weekend came on Sunday when we went to Queens to visit my boyfriend’s grandma. We usually go out for Japanese food, but alas because of #TakeOutTakeout we were relegated to cooking. Thankfully, Gamma was more than willing to switch up the plan (even before we explained the challenge; grandmas are the best) and we made salmon, roasted sweet potato “chips,” and a big salad. Once we filled her in (at first she thought I was on a diet) she was very interested in the story and asked me to please print her out a copy (she doesn’t do the internet). Explaining the millennially based Seamless problem to someone who has made most of her meals at home throughout her entire life (without complaining about how long it takes or whining about going to the supermarket) seemed like a perfect end to #TakeOutTakeout.
So, that’s it! After two weeks of forced homemade meals, I will (hopefully!) continue to cook on a more regular basis. And big-batch, pre-made meals, plus lots of planning ahead, will help me balance eating home-cooked meals with my busy schedule. Here’s to more cooking and less takeout in 2016!
Congrats to everyone who participated and thanks for joining us on this wild ride! More delicious-looking meals from all of you:
It's the final day of the #TakeOutTakeout Challenge and I have to say I'm pretty proud of myself. Being forced to cook everyday got easier and easier as the days went on. My wallet is happier too! Here's some of the better dishes that I made over the past two weeks... #cleaneating #eatwelllivewell #eatbetterlivebetter
Continuing my #takeouttakeout challenge by making a copycat of #chipotle #carnitas rice bowl. #food #foodie #foodgram #foodporn #foodgasm #instagood #instafood #yum #yummy #delish #delicious #nomnom #NoyKnowsNomNom #eeeeeats #foodcoma #homemade #homecooking #pork #corn #salsa #guacamole #sourcream #bellpeppers #rice
Prep Day (AKA WHY Are We Doing This Again?!):Elettra:
I observed and learned from Zoe's um, franticness, last time, and I knew that prepping meals on the weekend would be super helpful. So my Sunday was dominated by cooking — I made chili and a nice, thick vegan soup. Around 7 p.m., I realized that this challenge would deprive me of my midafternoon piece of chocolate bark, so I decided to take action and made some semi-sweet chocolate bark with sea salt and crumbled pretzels — #AlreadyDominatingThisChallenge.
Last time I did this, I didn't start thinking about what I was going to eat until panic set in, at around 8 p.m. the night before the challenge. Typical procrastinator behavior, right there. But, this time I was determined not to start off on a bad note. So I went a little crazy, and made enough food to feed a small army. I have green smoothies and muffins for breakfast this week, and stuffed peppers, and potato leek soup that should last me for a couple of days. I froze the smoothies (they feature bananas, frozen strawberries, tangerine and carrot juices, nonfat Greek yogurt, and a few handfuls of raw spinach) in mason jars so they stay fresh. So far, so good!
A few quips from Team Living:
We convinced our team at work to participate in the challenge (against their better judgement) and on the morning of day one, they already had some hilarious commentary on their potentially tortuous new status quo.
"After making the resolution not to eat out for two weeks, I made my grocery list, only to discover we were out of cooking oil, vinegar, butter, and other staples we usually keep around. Plus, not a bit of produce or fresh food to be found in the fridge. My grocery list was…. extensive. Flash forward to leaving Whole Foods with two heavy jars of liquids, plenty of produce, cans of tomato sauce…. I briefly considered what the walk to and from the subway would look like, and promptly hailed a cab." — Marshall
"I spent an hour at the grocery store last night, wandering around like a lunatic, putting things in my cart without really thinking about how I would use them. I also bought all the tupperware, which I now realize is actually not a practical or convenient way to carry a sandwich." — Justine
"I needed a separate bag to carry all of my supplies in to the office. And it weighed a million pounds. Half of that was coffee weight. And now I am slightly panicked that I didn’t factor in the right amount of snacks. I feel really bad that I put you through this back in October." —Caroline
Resolutions were made to be broken. This year, want to help you do you — the best you can. Check out more right here.
Day 2 (AKA This Ain't No Thang!)Elettra:
Okay, so despite my coffee fail (and I LOVE my coffee), I am relieved to say that yesterday went pretty smoothly! At one point in the afternoon, I did get pretty hungry. I gave Zoe this face:
This morning, I had a 6 a.m. wakeup call for my swim team practice, and was SO PSYCHED to see that people are jumping on the Takeout Take Out bandwagon: THANK YOU, FRIENDS. You guys rock!
Following a (brutal) swim workout, I ate three hardboiled eggs, two pieces of toast drowned in olive oil, plus my trusty protein shake (same as yesterday, just added in some raw cocoa powder this time!). I am now sucking down a Mason jar’s worth of coffee while I write this and forcing myself not to eat my leftover “risotto” and chicken for lunch (cause otherwise I know I'll be starving come mid-afternoon). I have an appointment this evening, so I am a little worried about dinner timing, but I will figure something out (or force my BF to cook for me. That still counts, right?).
Here is some deliciousness you guys whipped up yesterday that had us drooling/jealous:
In an effort to start the #NewYear off right and actually try a resolution, I've decided to join @refinery29 in the #TakeOutTakeout challenge. I eat out too frequently (Y'all know chipotle has ruined my life) so I dusted off some old cookbooks for inspiration. #cleaneating #healthyfood #eatwelllivewell
The rest of yesterday actually went pretty smoothly. I drank my smoothie after it FINALLY defrosted and then had a stuffed pepper during a very civilized lunch with Elettra. (She let me try some of her chili — it was delicious.) Something about bringing packed lunches made us actually want to step away from our screens for a few minutes and sit and talk to each other while we ate, like real people. (Who knows, we may have started a new tradition where we take legit lunch breaks.)
Later in the day, I had a gross tangerine, but one of my coworkers who is also taking the challenge shared her grapes with me (thanks, Justine!). I also had some of Elettra’s chocolate bark, which was a little too good, and she probably shouldn’t have showed me where she’s keeping it for the week. For dinner, I had a GIANT bowl of potato leek soup, which was good, but my boyfriend did the unthinkable and ordered Seamless, which meant I had to watch him eat noodles. It was all in the name of leaving me more leftovers, but I definitely still had takeout envy. To cheer myself up, I baked a few chocolate chip cookies from dough that I made and kept in the fridge for this exact purpose over the weekend.**
This morning it was back to the muffin and smoothie grind (not that I’m complaining, muffins and smoothies are delicious.) I still haven’t had my smoothie yet though because it’s FREEZING OUT today (16 degrees this a.m.) and something about drinking a partially frozen smoothie didn’t feel quite right. While things are still going smoothly so far, tonight I need to cook again otherwise I will run out of food. (Cue panic mode.) And considering I have to run to the market and cook all after I get home from work, we’ll see how that goes…
Day 3: Is This Challenge Over Yet?
This experience is starting to get interesting, because I am realizing how addicted I am to convenience and the luxury of being thoughtless when it comes to what I consume. Normally when I get hungry at the office, I can absentmindedly dial in an order on Seamless, or go to the R29 kitchen and grab a snack, or just pop out to get something quickly and eat it while answering emails. Being responsible for all my own food (and drink!) for all meals and snacks of the day actually takes some planning and forethought. I thought I had my planning nailed on Day 1, but turns out I was wrong — the last couple meals have been a house of cards that I have vowed to rectify as of tonight.
House of cards food drama has gone as follows:
Last night, I had an appointment after work, so I got home on the later side and had some of the soup I had prepped earlier this weekend. Then, I promptly crashed out super early, thanks to an early wakeup call yesterday morning. No food prep.
This morning, I realized that I didn’t have that much to bring to work to eat, so I packed more soup and some pretzels in a bag. On my way out the door, in a panic, I also grabbed some cereal that was almost finished and a container of yogurt.
When I got to work, I found that the yogurt was basically empty, so that plan felt kind of shot to hell. Instead, I just ate my soup, but that is totally not enough at all, and this scene from an old Charlie Chaplin film where he cooks and eats his shoe keeps flashing in my mind.
Sigh. I really need to get more organized. But the thought that I have another thing to think about at the end or beginning of every day has me internally like:
Lunch yesterday consisted of more potato leek soup and lots of snacks, including pretzels, carrots, and an apple. As expected, by the time I left work last night I was already really hungry and not in the mood to shop and cook dinner when I got home. But, I kept it together and quickly whipped up some pasta with pesto and sautéed zucchini. (Oh and a whole bunch of freshly grated Parm on top, yum!)
I didn’t eat until late (around 8 p.m.), but I managed to spare my last stuffed pepper for lunch today. And, I’m going to use the rest of the pesto to marinate some chicken for tonight, which I purchased at the store yesterday so I don’t have to go back to the market later. Score!
While bringing lunches every day is one of my favorite parts of this challenge, I definitely need to figure out a better packing system. Right now, I’m bringing my normal work bag plus an extra tote filled with Tupperware and a LOT of plastic baggies. While they’re giving me serious elementary school nostalgia, it’s maybe not the most environmentally friendly way pack a lunch. Today’s goals are figuring out what to make for the rest of the week and avoiding PB&Js at all costs.
Day 4: Getting Organized (Kind Of. Not Really.)Elettra:
I messed up my planning yesterday and only had soup to eat all day, so by the time I got home I was STARVING. I made enough of Gwenyth Paltrow’s sweet potato tacos to feed a small army, and also baked up one of Heidi Swanson’s rosemary chocolate loaves. After eating myself into a food coma, I fell asleep and awoke this morning with a great, super organized plan on how to never go hungry again.
As of now, (midway through day 3) I still haven’t consumed one PB&J! (This might not sound that exciting, but as a serial Seamless lunch orderer, this is a serious accomplishment.) One strange thing about this challenge is that bringing my breakfast and lunch to work is making me eat at really strange times. Yesterday I drank my coffee on the train, ate my muffin at like 11:30 a.m., and drank my smoothie at lunchtime. By the time the late afternoon rolled around, I was SO hungry. I snacked on some pretzels, and an apple, and after complaining to Elettra and the rest of team Living that after 2.5 days I was over #TakeoutTakeOut, I realized that I had completely forgotten to eat the main part of my lunch — duh! So I scarfed down my last stuffed pepper at 5:30 p.m., which ended up being more like dunch or linner or whatever you want to call it. Then I went home and made myself and egg in a hole, which I enjoyed with some carrot-orange juice because I was still hungry. I didn’t cook anything real, so this morning I made scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast and threw together some leftover pasta with pesto and zucchini to bring for lunch.
As I write this, I’m currently at a photo shoot for an upcoming story about healthy grain bowls (stay tuned!) where I’m not allowed to eat anything including the FREE lunch that everyone ordered from one of my fave Mediterranean spots on — you guessed it — Seamless. I was all ready for a bratty woe-is-me moment, but then Elettra brought me some of her chocolate chip rosemary bread (it sounds a little odd, but it’s SO good), and all was well again in #TakeoutTakeOut land. Except that I just found out Refinery29 is treating the whole office to breakfast sandwiches tomorrow morning, but that’s a food drama for another day.
Here are some of our favorite #TakeoutTakeOut Instagrams you brave souls who are on this journey with us have posted. Let's just say we are super impressed, and many of you seem to be doing a WAY better job managing this challenge than we are: