The delicious $16 martini that Tyler and I shared at the Chicago Composers Orchestra benefit at about 4pm last Sunday was, for us, a kind of Last (Alcoholic) Supper. We pledged, after that outing, that we would not eat out or drink out for seven days. Since I’ve made the decision to teach less to make more room for practicing, performing, and germinating my creative endeavors — well, we have a lot less money.

Below are some highlights of what happened afterwards.

SUNDAY: Inspired by my recent purchase of an adorable casserole dish, we made a healthy casserole of brown rice, poblano pepper, corn, tomato & cheddar cheese. It was good. But, lesson for next casserole: more cheese.

MONDAY: Since I would be out of the house for nine hours, I packed (what I thought was) an enormous amount of calories to bring with me to work. A mountain of leftover casserole, a Luna bar, a bag of rice crackers. By the time I left my teaching job, though, I was already hungry again! Like a vulture I snagged two Oreos (oops) from a recital reception and managed to make it through my train ride.

TUESDAY: Having learned my lesson about the (lack of) caloric value of rice crackers, I incorporated raw almonds & peanuts into the mix. Went much better.

WEDNESDAY: Kind friend Liz wanted to get together this night. I let her know about our pledge, and she and Shawn came to our rescue and invited us over for dinner. Shawn is a tremendous cook, and did not disappoint, with a meal that included glorious corn fritters. On the train home from this dinner, Tyler and I got into a somewhat epic argument about whether he had violated our pledge by getting a latte before his teaching that day.

THURSDAY: Kind friend Sara wanted to get lunch after rehearsal. Or — she suggested without prompting from me — we could bring our lunches and sit together! This girl is an epic Lunch-Bringer. She has been known to pack a plain, whole beet as a snack. I fried up some Trader Joe’s gyoza and packed ’em up. We dined together in Millennium Park. Heavenly.

FRIDAY: In a valiant attempt to redeem his latte sins and make his coffee at home, Tyler dropped his second-favorite espresso cup and it shattered. Ah, the perils of making coffee before you’ve had your coffee! Tyler was starting to crack, so I need to come up with something really good for dinner tonight. Dinner included this amazing soba noodle dish and … STRAWBERRY F’ING SHORTCAKE, biscuits from scratch. Proudest accomplishment of my week.

SATURDAY: We celebrated the end of our challenge by spending $30 apiece to see ensemble dal niente at their can’t-miss spring new music & food marathon, The Party. See, music? I love you so much that I spend all my money on you.

Advice for Completing this Challenge: Don’t underestimate how much you can eat in a single day. Don’t forget protein. Make sure you have friends. Dirty dishes may result.

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