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5 Ideas for the Foodie in You | USAA Member Community

I love to eat! Nothing better than munching on your favorite food with some of your favorite friends or family.


I remember a food experience during a family trip a few years back we’ll never forget. Our daughter’s friend recommended a great restaurant in Denver, Colorado by the name of “Casa Blanca”. We anticipated a meal at a Mexican food place with a high dive show and music.  Somehow and somewhere between a disgruntled GPS and maybe temperamental T9 “smart”phone spelling errors, we ended up at a different Moroccan cuisine restaurant.


We were extremely hungry. We expected dinner and a show. We just fought traffic. We were ready to eat. Oh, and both kids were student/athletes each with a strong metabolism.


A quick re-check of the true name of our original destination revealed about a 16 minute drive – under non-rush hour traffic conditions, which these were not. So, I made the Command Decision and decided to go Moroccan.


As we pulled up, the outside of the place looked like something out of a movie scene. Bright colors, curvy windows, and an overall look of what you’d might imagine Morocco architecture to look like.


Once we walked in, a welcoming greeting from the host was followed by even more furnishings of this part of the world. The music was welcoming. The creatively colorful inside décor included floor-level seating, decorated round tables, and asymmetrical ceilings draped in what appeared to be bright-colored carpets or super long pieces of gilded trimmings and high-end material. You literally felt as though you’d closed your eyes and woke up in Morocco.


Our host strongly encouraged us to refrain from using our cellphones and just enjoy each other’s company. He explained that’s the reason for round tables. He even made small talk with the kids and shared some details about his homeland and culture. Overall, the food was incredible and like nothing we’d ever experienced. The bill was incredible too, almost $200 to feed a family of four. This was very different from the original plan, to enjoy Mexican Food which would have cost only a fraction of the price of this memorable meal.


While the Moroccan place was fun and fully funded thanks to me, I learned some expensive lessons:


“See” Food


Before you decide to consume and imbibe, it might be a good idea to check the menu. Family vacations take a toll on your body (and in my case, wallet) and when you get hungry during rush hour, you just want to eat. Even though this is one of those stories we’ll never forget, actually seeing the food venue before you eat there will help. Online reviews aside, if you see other people eating there, it’s probably a good place to eat. But more specifically, the price of the food is what you want to see.


DIY Food


As an alternative to eating out, you might wish to consider Do It Yourself food, as in make your own meals. Our family is a group of firm believers in eating where you can’t eat when at home while you’re on vacation. But during normal non-vacation meals, cooking at home can be a lot of fun. You can make your own pizza. You can try to imitate a meal you had at favorite restaurant. You can keep that food delivery service on speed dial just in case.


Ask a Friend Food


I have a few friends that trade restaurant recommendations with me. This is a fun thing to do since your pal’s palates discover some cool eateries and places you can grab a bite based on a good recommendation. This works even better if one of your friends doesn’t cook or works in a profession that requires frequent business meals. I’m that friend for some on the business meal side of the equation.


Luck of the Draw Food


Here’s one for the more adventurous foodies out there. Grab some sticky notes or note paper and write down the names of several restaurants on each. Drop the slips of paper into a bucket and reach in and grab the paper with the name of the winning restaurant. Embrace the luck of the draw.


Themed Food Nights


To add more fun with food, choose a theme for the nightly meal. You can select Italian, German, Chinese, Soul Food, Kosher, Jamaican, Mexican, or any type of food for the night. To make it even more fun, borrow something we did while I was on Active Duty. Host an International Night. Ask guests to bring a dish that represents a specific country. Make it even more fun with trivia questions. Maybe ask everyone to bring three pictures from their vacation in that country. Or, maybe even wear something specific from that country. OK, I’m starting to get hungry and the fridge is at risk.


You too can have fun with food with a little creativity, bravery, and curiosity and still not overspend. Feel free to use these ideas to change things up a bit at the dinner table.


Have something to add to this article? Share your thoughts in the comments below.




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