One of my toughest weekly balances is eating out v. cooking in. We have a killer pantry set-up. We can spend under $20 at the farmer’s market and eat practically gourmet all week. We can cook three dishes and make them cover our lunches/dinners and then some even into the weekend. And yet. We live in Portland. An absolute paradise when it comes to eating out vegan. How can I stay in and cook with all of those tempting dishes throwing themselves at me on my bike ride home?
I’ve started allotting for time to eat out. I make a weekly meal plan (because it helps with the shopping which makes things cheaper! and also I’m kind of crazy) and now I note 2-3 meals/week where I can eat out. If I don’t give myself this permission from the get-go, I find myself making up excuses to go out all week long, and all my groceries go to waste!
Breakfast is one of the hardest meals to justify eating out, particularly during the work week – normally I just have a smoothie at 8am followed by some oatmeal at 10am. I always have the ingredients to make these two items, and they start my day on such a healthy note. But you’ll notice that neither of those things are bagels, the item that makes my heart flutter. So Fridays, I often give myself the okay to go out and hunt for a breakfast treat downtown. I was very excited to see that DC Vegetarian started serving breakfast, and this bagel sandwich did not disappoint. Only $3.50 for this tofu patty, vegan cheese, avocado, tomato and roasted red pepper sauce on a Dave’s Killer Bagel. The price was right, the breakfast was satisfying and the sauce was so flavorful! The long walk keeps me from eating there more often, but I hope this cart never goes.
I recently went back to Luc Lac after not visiting for almost six months. I used to frequent this place (it’s such a perfect spot to meet a friend for lunch!), but one day I was mistakenly given pork spring rolls with my vegan dish. I know it was a busy night, but it’s hard to go back to a place where you found yourself with meat in your mouth. However, their flavorful pho and filling bahn mi kept calling me, so I went to give it another try. I have to admit, I now crack open each spring roll before eating, but my experience has been pleasant enough to warrant the return. I love the tofu on the pictured bahn mi, love the price (that plate is $7 – sorry Sweet Hereafter, but Luc Lac wins the bahn mi round), and that place is so cute that I can’t help but want to hang out at the bar and read my book while munching on this lunch.
So the Portland Mercury recently hosted a Burger Week in Portland, encouraging local places to put their best burgery foot forward and attempt to outdo each other. White Owl had the only vegan option in town, but frankly, I didn’t even need to eat any other burger after this one. Very similar to their current one, this beet & hazelnut patty was covered in chimchurri sauce and fried onions. The additions were so good that I might be tempted to write to them and ask for this concoction to be on the menu full-time. I’m always put off a little bit at the white bun at first, but I do appreciate that the bread steps back so you can enjoy the flavors of the burger itself. Oh, and all White Owl burgers come with fries, which is an ABSOLUTE MUST in my book. And their fries are soooooo good.
Moral of the story? I guess, anything in moderation – there is definitely a time and place to indulge in eating out, and the results are often worth it.