This past weekend, my family and I took a trip back to our hometown of Needles, CA. Needles is about three hours from where we are currently stationed. Fortunately for us, we were able to stay with family while we were there. With a tighter budget than normal, we were forced to cut back on trips to the local eateries – which is mostly fast food joints and Denny’s.
Our last day there, however, we decided to go to Denny’s for brunch. Horrible mistake.
Do not mistake this post as a review, nor me bashing going out to eat every now and then. I was reminded today, however, why we don’t go out to eat very often. It all started with the highchair. I had requested a highchair for my daughter, which was completely overlooked by the host (I think he is new). I waited ten minutes for him to get it with a clear view of him standing at his post twiddling his thumbs after he seated us. I walked up to him, told him that I still needed a highchair (politely!) and he looked at me like I had two heads, THEN remembered. He promptly got the highchair, and brought it back to our table. Well, next came my disgust. The highchair was covered in two different kinds of syrup and there was food all over the bottom. He had brought me the dirtiest high chair ever. I actually got out my own baby wipes and cleaned it. The waiter came, saw me cleaning it, and asked if I was ready to order. I told him that I was too busy cleaning up the highchair to even look at the menu. He looked at me and apologized, then walked away without offering to finish what was most likely HIS job.
Then came the food. We ordered my daughter a grilled cheese and mashed potatoes, no gravy, side of butter. My daughter ate all of her potatoes, which I had tasted first. Sadly, they tasted like they came out of a box. I ordered a deluxe chicken salad with a side of ranch. The only thing edible in my salad was the iceberg lettuce, and even that was a bit wilted. My tomatoes weren’t ripe, my cucumbers were cut too thick (SKIN ON! Ugh….anyone who likes cucumbers knows to eat them without skin due to WAX!!!), and the chicken….omg. The “grilled chicken” was filled with grizzle, most likely from too much processing. It was awful.
My husband and son’s orders were okay, but my husband had to send back his food due to a screw up in his order. He didn’t seem all that impressed with his ham or his hash browns. My son was the only one of us who ate his pizza and apples happily. and my daughter threw her grilled cheese on the floor. I know Denny’s isn’t exactly a gourmet eatery, but I remember them not only using fresh ingredients, but also having their (fancy language moment) shit together. Really guys?
Which brings me back to my original point: Eating clean on the go. As restaurants are unpredictable and more food comes from a box than nature in most eateries nowadays, it is much more convenient (and cheaper!) to bring your own food on trips, or buy it from the local grocery store and stock your hotel fridge. Where we stayed, at my mother-in-law’s, we had a mini fridge, and we stocked it with our essentials – organic produce for snacks and apples. We also ate at their house mostly. While they aren’t as clean eaters as we are, what they served was WAY better than any restaurant. Most would argue that I am biased toward clean eating because I have been doing it so long – which they may be partially right, but I also know that this just means I have gotten to know quality food, and I know that it comes from nature, and is not processed to the point of a second death. I also know that it is cheaper in the long run, as our Denny’s trip cost us $36 for four people. Cost of dinners at my place? $10-15 for four people. Cost of dinner at my mother-in-law’s? Free.
I urge you all to consider making your next trip one where you bring your own food. While we didn’t do that this time, we did purchase our own essentials at the grocery store. I truly preferred my organic apples to that “salad” I had today. I would have saved $36 if it had not been for my own laziness. Lesson learned: don’t eat at Denny’s, no matter what the circumstance.
Until next time,