Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Quality Time (and Food) at P.F. Chang's

A few years ago, I asked my close friends if would be okay if we stopped exchanging Christmas presents, and instead of birthday gifts, just going out for dinner (as we usually would do anyway) instead.

What a relief they all embraced this idea. After years of friendship, what can one continue to buy just for the sake of giving something? There's no stress on the table of spending money for a gift who knows if we'll like. Just good food, good conversation and quality time. What more could one ask for, really?

When a dear friend's birthday celebration dinner rolled around, she choose P.F. Chang's, a chain with a location in the Riverside Square Mall in Hackensack, NJ.

As a beverage, I often just order tap water with a slice of lemon. It's healthy, and cutting out a beverage cost does save some money (it all adds up!) When I told the waitress I didn't need a straw for my water, she asked, "Did you have dental work done recently?" That was a first! When I told her I'm just trying to reduce waste, she said, "That's cool. I can respect the green." Why thank you.

An appetizer to share: vegetarian lettuce wraps with tofu. Four iceberg lettuce leaves arrive with a platter, and you build your own, $7.95.

My entree: mixed veggies, crispy tofu and peanuts in a coconut curry sauce, with a side of brown rice, $7.95.

Good thing I brought a reusable container with me. I took half of this with me and had a second meal for lunch the next day. According to their nutritional menu, a serving is 8 ounces, and out of this you get three servings!

The waitress felt so bad there weren't any vegan dessert options, she offered to make up a little fruit platter. No charge. That was nice of her. (Maybe because it was my friend's birthday). She suggested contacting the corporate site to suggest vegan dessert offerings, which I did.

Financially stressed about the upcoming holidays? Consider a 'no gift' pact with some of your friends or family, or just do a 'one gift' rule with your direct family or sweetheart. No one's blood pressure should rise thinking about their January credit card statement.

The season of giving should be more for the children and to give to the less fortunate, in my opinion. Last year, my company collected donations for the Pajama Program, which provides warm pajamas and new books to underprivileged children in the United States. What a great cause, and what the true spirit of the holidays is for me. I donated pj's with ducks (too bad they didn't make a pair in my size!) and the book? I couldn't resist...on farm animals.

1 comment:

Cate said...

That was really nice of your waitress, to put together a dessert plate for you! When I was vegan, I found that waitstaff was generally either really helpful or really awful. I had one waiter rush to the kitchen to ask the chef EXACTLY what was in their mushroom and barley soup (which ended up being vegan and delicious!), but I had plenty of waiters and waitresses looking at me like I was insane if I asked about ingredients or simple substitutions. It's always nice when people are so gracious and nonjudgmental!