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A few years back when our kids were in elementary school, we were looking for a way to do family service around the holidays. We got wind of an idea to save money we'd normally budget for dining out during one month and donate it to the local food bank. November was the month! We called it "No-eat-out-November." At the end of the month, we looked at how much money we had saved by not eating out and then sent a check to the local food bank. We felt pretty good about our donation, but it just wasn't complete. We wondered how to make it more meaningful especially for the kids, make it a real service rather than just a donation... The next few years as the kids got a little older, we decided to turn our idea into a better learning moment. Like in years previous, we continued to cook and eat at home during November. As the month ended, we took the money we had saved, and this time loaded the kids in the car, and set off for the local Costco. There the kids helped us fill the cart with cases of canned goods and other non-perishables, foods the food bank relies on to feed so many families in need.

After we made the purchase, the kids helped load the groceries in the car, and we drove to the food bank for the delivery. The kids got to see first hand just what our "dining out" money would buy for families in need. It was eye opening in many ways. Our kids saw a LARGE cart full of food and were in awe that so many meals could be provided to help others just by our little contribution, from saving one month's dining out money to give to a great cause. They also learned that there were people in our own community who didn't have enough food to give their families and needed to rely on the food bank for their survival. Each year we have continued to do this. We've even stayed and volunteered for a shift of food sorting at the food bank after our delivery... So much more meaningful that way!

We have been so blessed and fortunate to have the resources to enjoy a few meals out. We have been able to see how our donations can make a difference in the community for those in need. It might be a little thing, but a little does go a long way.

Eating in instead of eating out has also helped us to focus on healthier eating habits. Cooking and baking using whole food ingredients, including only a few minimally processed items, allows us to actually KNOW what we are putting in to our bodies...avoiding those packaged foods that have ingredients you can't pronounce or recognize as a food! It's amazing how much better you feel when you cook and eat from scratch and actually know and recognize what you are eating.

It just takes that one step, adding a few minutes to plan your meals, then going to the market to purchase your ingredients. Worth setting some time aside to give it a try. Go for it! I think you might actually like it!

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