Here's What Happened When I Gave Up Takeout For A Month

Seamless is a bitter habit to break.

In our monthly series, GIVING UP, newsroom staffers deprive themselves of a beloved habit and track how it went. In July, Associate Editor of News & Emerging Platforms Abigail Williams, 25, gave up takeout and delivery.

A picture of a girl who likes getting takeout for lunch.

What are you giving up? I tried to give up takeout and delivery for the month of July. And I have to tell you: Seamless is a bitter habit to break.

What made you decide to give it up? I spend a good chunk of change on takeout and delivery every month. Between buying lunch during the work week and ordering Seamless or Caviar on the weekends, I blow over 30 percent of my monthly budget on dining. I hoped giving up my costly habit would hit the reset button on my finances.

How did your friends and family react? “Skeptical” is the word I would use. My boyfriend has tried time and time again to get me to plan out my meals in advance, so he took my declaration of independence from Seamless with a grain of salt.

Did you do any research before you started? I knew I would need a few big-batch recipes to prepare on Sundays and eat throughout the week. I relied on Pinterest and loved ones’ recipes to get me through. Orecchiette with bacon and caramelized brussels sprouts was one of my favorite dishes to make ― delicious and not difficult!

Look! Eating something that wasn’t ordered on an app!

Did you slip up? It turns out when you’re not in the habit of bringing your lunch to work, you tend to forget it in the fridge. A LOT. Several times I found myself trudging to my usual lunch spots, head hung in shame, as a perfectly good Crock-Pot recipe wasted away back at my apartment.

When did you first feel deprived? By the end of week one I was desperate for a little variety. I had rotated through all my big-batch recipes multiple times by that point, and truly yearned for a break from the monotony.

Any awkward social encounters? The day after I told my boss about the challenge, she watched me waltz into the office with a freshly-bought lunch. She shot me an amused look but kindly spared me the judgment!

Salad from one of my favorite takeout spots. Sigh, I missed you.

Notice any changes to your mood? At first, I was pretty sullen about the loss of my usual $10 chopped salads and weekend dinner deliveries. But that initial grumpiness was quickly canceled out by my euphoria at actually being able to save money. Of course, I also took a week-long vacation in July, so those savings were short-lived.

Changes to your productivity? Spending less time in line for lunch did free up a significant amount of work time. That said, I noticed I rarely left the office on days I brought my lunch. I wish I had still taken my lunch breaks just to get a breath of fresh air.

Changes to your relationships? I didn’t notice any significant changes in that department. People were generally very supportive and allowed me to do my own thing.

What does an expert say about doing this? Is there any benefit? Research shows that spending money on experiences brings the most long-lasting happiness. By saving money on food, I was better equipped to afford my vacation and was able to create memories I’ll treasure. Nevertheless, a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that spending money on time-saving activities, i.e. food delivery or a cleaning service, also increases overall happiness. So do with that what you will!

Would you do it again? 100 percent. I felt more in control of my budget and better able to handle unanticipated expenses. And I learned a few new recipes in the process!

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