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What do you eat when you eat alone?

The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
edited July 2009 in Debate and/or Discourse
On the back of this post at Pandagon, I'm making a rare venture into threadmaking. Intro paras:
This post at Jezebel excited my interest, because I had a pre-existing interest in the difference between what people eat with others around, and what they eat when they eat alone. So I listened to this short interview at NPR with Deborah Madison and Patrick McFarlin, the authors of What We Eat When We Eat Alone. I was looking forward to a few minutes of chuckling good times talking about people who just pour soy sauce on rice and eat that directly, some weirder sandwich attempts, or foods consumed straight out of a can.

But you cannot escape the cold hand of sexism, particularly of the WTF variety. And this short interview was no exception. Even in the world of people eating weird shit just because they’re alone, people have to insist that there’s dramatic gender differences that are almost certainly not there. The authors insist that men and women have drastically different habits when they eat alone, namely that women dice things delicately and men slam things into frying pans, making that food their bitch.



...

I'm actually only marginally interested in the gender stuff - although, if it turns out that y'all are self-policing your gender role as regards eating habits even when no-one's around, by all means lets have a talk about it. I haven't pointed and guffawed at anyone here in almost 24 hours, and I'm kind of jonesing.

Mainly, as an aficionado of eating weird combinations of things out of the fridge, I need to know that I'm not alone when I'm sitting down in front of a ghetto pizza made from leftover turkish bread, salsa, salami, and low fat cheapass cheese*. Tell me you're all as lazy as I am! Regale me with the tales of the things you only eat when people you like are far away and will never know about it. We will bond over our gastronomic deviance.

*sunday night, and it was quite fine.

The Cat on
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Posts

  • yalborapyalborap Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    I often go for cereal or something when alone. Loneliness puts a damper on wanting to put any effort into things.

  • EchoEcho staring is caring Super Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited July 2009
    I pretty often find myself in the "Oh shit, I discovered that I'm hungry! How do I remedy this as quickly as possible?" situation and then just grab whatever is quick and convenient.

    I know that I do this though, so I do my best to make proper cooked dinners as well.

  • Gnome-InterruptusGnome-Interruptus Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    I'm like Echo, but with the added caveat that often times I have to check the clock with the vain hope that some restaurants might still be open for some Drive-Thru action. Otherwise its a quick rinse of a pot, and boiling water for Ramen... which I would eat with other people too, but then I would have to share my Ramen, so I dont.

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  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2009
    Late night snack for me just now:

    Turkey sandwich on wheat bread with mozzarella cheese, mayo, spicy mustard, sliced cucumber, and spinach.

  • _J__J_ Festive Pedant Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    I don't think that I modify my diet between when I am alone and when I eat friends. I just eat what I eat.

    Obviously if I'm at a restaurant I'll eat things that I do not make on my own at home. But if I am home and eating and people are here I do not modify my diet...

    It would be quite weird if when people here I did not eat, say, pickles but then when everyone left my kitchen turned into a veritable pickle orgy.

    Seriously J not only are you a monumentally umpleasant person when you start uttering the nonsense that passes for philosophy in your mind (shame on whatever institution you graduated in, and shame on your tutors for creating such a monster), but your sense of humor, such as it is, is awful.
  • CycloneRangerCycloneRanger Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    I once ate a bowl of ramen noodles and found myself with the broth left, but still hungry. I saw a can of oatmeal sitting there alone in my cabinet and reasoned that this would be a reasonable substitute for more noodles, since it's just another carbohydrate/protein mixture that is typically prepared by boiling in water.

    Do not make this mistake.

    I also ran out of food during finals week once and ate SPAM spread (it's like whipped SPAM, only nastier... somehow) straight out of the can. Don't do that either.

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  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2009
    _J_ wrote: »
    I don't think that I modify my diet between when I am alone and when I eat friends. I just eat what I eat.

    Obviously if I'm at a restaurant I'll eat things that I do not make on my own at home. But if I am home and eating and people are here I do not modify my diet...

    It would be quite weird if when people here I did not eat, say, pickles but then when everyone left my kitchen turned into a veritable pickle orgy.

    When cooking for more than just me, I get more elaborate. For example, the other day I ate a bowl of ravioli with spicy marinara, and I munched on some raw carrots on the side. Had I been cooking for more than just myself, I probably would have steamed some vegetables and had garlic bread as well.

  • VariableVariable Ted Hitler Stroke Me Lady FameRegistered User regular
    edited July 2009
    The only difference for me is that I eat far worse when I'm alone.

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  • _J__J_ Festive Pedant Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Doc wrote: »
    _J_ wrote: »
    I don't think that I modify my diet between when I am alone and when I eat friends. I just eat what I eat.

    Obviously if I'm at a restaurant I'll eat things that I do not make on my own at home. But if I am home and eating and people are here I do not modify my diet...

    It would be quite weird if when people here I did not eat, say, pickles but then when everyone left my kitchen turned into a veritable pickle orgy.

    When cooking for more than just me, I get more elaborate. For example, the other day I ate a bowl of ravioli with spicy marinara, and I munched on some raw carrots on the side. Had I been cooking for more than just myself, I probably would have steamed some vegetables and had garlic bread as well.

    Yeah, I do not do that. I want to eat something yummy and when people are here I want to serve them something yummy.

    Why would I cook yummier food for others than I cook for myself? That's very odd.

    Seriously J not only are you a monumentally umpleasant person when you start uttering the nonsense that passes for philosophy in your mind (shame on whatever institution you graduated in, and shame on your tutors for creating such a monster), but your sense of humor, such as it is, is awful.
  • LucidLucid Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    I'm almost always stocked with various kinds of pasta, so I usually resort to that. Most of the time it's simple and plain, but I do make something nice according to recipes or whatever on occasion. Naan bread is also great for lone eating.

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  • _J__J_ Festive Pedant Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Lucid wrote: »
    I'm almost always stocked with various kinds of pasta, so I usually resort to that. Most of the time it's simple and plain, but I do make something nice according to recipes or whatever on occasion. Naan bread is also great for lone eating.

    I've still managed to maintain meat in my diet and not slip into the pasta diet of loneliness.

    Seriously J not only are you a monumentally umpleasant person when you start uttering the nonsense that passes for philosophy in your mind (shame on whatever institution you graduated in, and shame on your tutors for creating such a monster), but your sense of humor, such as it is, is awful.
  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2009
    _J_ wrote: »
    Why would I cook yummier food for others than I cook for myself? That's very odd.

    Because the marginal increase in effort is not worth it when the payoff is just for me. When the increase in effort stays mostly the same, but the payoff is multiplied by two or three people, then it becomes much more worthwhile.

    More practically, it's kind of a pain in the ass to make one serving each of four different dishes when you could just make twice as much of two.

  • oldsakoldsak Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Well, I usually like easy things, because I rarely have time or patience for cooking (Obviously if I order in or go out none of this applies).

    Important to note that easy does not necessarily mean crap. For example a lunch item I'm a fan of consists of a sliced avocado sandwich on multi grain toast with chevre marinated in olive oil and sliced jalepeno (fresh, de-seeded). Takes like 2 minutes to make and is much more interesting than ham and cheese.

    I suppose I could buy into some gender stereotyping that says men are more likely to spend less time preparing food (and thus are more likely to eat crap), but, while my girlfriend is a great cook, in general I know more men who can cook well (and will take the time to do so) than women, by far. Though that might be some sort of New York thing.

  • EchoEcho staring is caring Super Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited July 2009
    Doc wrote: »
    Because the marginal increase in effort is not worth it when the payoff is just for me. When the increase in effort stays mostly the same, but the payoff is multiplied by two or three people, then it becomes much more worthwhile.

    Yeah. Spending an hour making dinner for myself? Don't do that very often. The same with company? Hell yeah.

  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2009
    Lucid wrote: »
    I'm almost always stocked with various kinds of pasta, so I usually resort to that. Most of the time it's simple and plain, but I do make something nice according to recipes or whatever on occasion. Naan bread is also great for lone eating.
    Naan is awesome full stop. I've been known to trot up to the local takeaway just for one garlic and some sauce to dip it in...

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  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2009
    Echo wrote: »
    Doc wrote: »
    Because the marginal increase in effort is not worth it when the payoff is just for me. When the increase in effort stays mostly the same, but the payoff is multiplied by two or three people, then it becomes much more worthwhile.

    Yeah. Spending an hour making dinner for myself? Don't do that very often. The same with company? Hell yeah.

    Plus people are around to keep you company while you cook. It turns cooking from a chore into a social event.

  • _J__J_ Festive Pedant Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Doc wrote: »
    Echo wrote: »
    Doc wrote: »
    Because the marginal increase in effort is not worth it when the payoff is just for me. When the increase in effort stays mostly the same, but the payoff is multiplied by two or three people, then it becomes much more worthwhile.

    Yeah. Spending an hour making dinner for myself? Don't do that very often. The same with company? Hell yeah.

    Plus people are around to keep you company while you cook. It turns cooking from a chore into a social event.

    I like cooking.

    Seriously J not only are you a monumentally umpleasant person when you start uttering the nonsense that passes for philosophy in your mind (shame on whatever institution you graduated in, and shame on your tutors for creating such a monster), but your sense of humor, such as it is, is awful.
  • oldsakoldsak Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Doc wrote: »
    Echo wrote: »
    Doc wrote: »
    Because the marginal increase in effort is not worth it when the payoff is just for me. When the increase in effort stays mostly the same, but the payoff is multiplied by two or three people, then it becomes much more worthwhile.

    Yeah. Spending an hour making dinner for myself? Don't do that very often. The same with company? Hell yeah.

    Plus people are around to keep you company while you cook. It turns cooking from a chore into a social event.

    I hate when other people are in the kitchen while I'm cooking, as do most of the best cooks I know.

  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2009
    Also regarding the gender differences: all that matters is that everyone, no matter what your gender, has eaten cold leftovers over the kitchen sink with their last clean fork.

  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2009
    oldsak wrote: »
    Doc wrote: »
    Echo wrote: »
    Doc wrote: »
    Because the marginal increase in effort is not worth it when the payoff is just for me. When the increase in effort stays mostly the same, but the payoff is multiplied by two or three people, then it becomes much more worthwhile.

    Yeah. Spending an hour making dinner for myself? Don't do that very often. The same with company? Hell yeah.

    Plus people are around to keep you company while you cook. It turns cooking from a chore into a social event.

    I hate when other people are in the kitchen while I'm cooking, as do most of the best cooks I know.

    woah

    I'm not a good cook, so I guess I'm out of that group

  • oldsakoldsak Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Doc wrote: »
    Also regarding the gender differences: all that matters is that everyone, no matter what your gender, has eaten cold leftovers over the kitchen sink with their last clean fork.

    Or chopsticks (no matter what it is), because there are no clean forks.

  • EchoEcho staring is caring Super Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited July 2009
    _J_ wrote: »
    I like cooking.

    Me too.

    Still won't spend an hour making dinner for just myself all that often.

  • oldsakoldsak Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Doc wrote: »
    oldsak wrote: »
    Doc wrote: »
    Echo wrote: »
    Doc wrote: »
    Because the marginal increase in effort is not worth it when the payoff is just for me. When the increase in effort stays mostly the same, but the payoff is multiplied by two or three people, then it becomes much more worthwhile.

    Yeah. Spending an hour making dinner for myself? Don't do that very often. The same with company? Hell yeah.

    Plus people are around to keep you company while you cook. It turns cooking from a chore into a social event.

    I hate when other people are in the kitchen while I'm cooking, as do most of the best cooks I know.

    woah

    don't take it personally

    Ha, I just meant to point out that while eating tends to be very social, cooking is not necessarily so.

  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2009
    oldsak wrote: »
    Doc wrote: »
    Also regarding the gender differences: all that matters is that everyone, no matter what your gender, has eaten cold leftovers over the kitchen sink with their last clean fork.

    Or chopsticks (no matter what it is), because there are no clean forks.

    and then wiped off the utensil(s) with a paper towel and put it back in the drawer

    okay, maybe that's a guy thing.

  • oldsakoldsak Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Doc wrote: »
    oldsak wrote: »
    Doc wrote: »
    Also regarding the gender differences: all that matters is that everyone, no matter what your gender, has eaten cold leftovers over the kitchen sink with their last clean fork.

    Or chopsticks (no matter what it is), because there are no clean forks.

    and then wiped off the utensil(s) with a paper towel and put it back in the drawer

    okay, maybe that's a guy thing.

    woah now, not even spritzing a little soap and water on it?

  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2009
    oldsak wrote: »
    Doc wrote: »
    oldsak wrote: »
    Doc wrote: »
    Also regarding the gender differences: all that matters is that everyone, no matter what your gender, has eaten cold leftovers over the kitchen sink with their last clean fork.

    Or chopsticks (no matter what it is), because there are no clean forks.

    and then wiped off the utensil(s) with a paper towel and put it back in the drawer

    okay, maybe that's a guy thing.

    woah now, not even spritzing a little soap and water on it?

    run it under the faucet for like a second yeah

    I'm not a barbarian

  • BogartBogart Mr. Lady Anime Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    The missus spoils me, I think, as our division of labour has her doing all the cooking and me doing all the cleaning. I'd be a lot less lazy if I didn't know she'd be cooking tomorrow or whenever. I can cook, but I'm not really interested in it, so feelings of hunger get dealt with in an ascending scale of the least effort I can put into assuaging those feelings. First come the snacks that require only unwrapping or unpeeling, then comes leftovers that require heating, then comes things that require little preparation, then comes actually making a damn meal for myself.

    When I was cooking for one many years ago my meals were very uniform, as cooking the same thing was easier than learning how to cook new things. I ate a lot of baked potatoes with baked beans and one kind of cheese. A tube of pringles and many cigarettes was a regular substitute for a meal. My taste buds have undergone a considerable education since moving in with m'lady, but I think I'd regress to type in about eight seconds if she left me in the dust.

  • An-DAn-D Content Editor RaleighRegistered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Lightly toasted PB&J on an elegant paper towel - typically decorated with whatever holiday just went out of season so they're super cheap. I was using Christmas paper towels until March.

    That's my main alone meal. I love a good sandwich.

    Occasionally I get the urge to treat myself and make delicious steak. Steak is manly. Like me. Sometimes I make a potato or green beans with it. Most of the time its just more steak.



    Oh, and bacon. Its always bacon time.

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  • yalborapyalborap Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    An-D wrote: »
    Lightly toasted PB&J on an elegant paper towel - typically decorated with whatever holiday just went out of season so they're super cheap. I was using Christmas paper towels until March.

    That's my main alone meal. I love a good sandwich.

    Occasionally I get the urge to treat myself and make delicious steak. Steak is manly. Like me. Sometimes I make a potato or green beans with it. Most of the time its just more steak.



    Oh, and bacon. Its always bacon time.

    Paper towels are nature's plates, man.

  • tbloxhamtbloxham Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    oldsak wrote: »
    Doc wrote: »
    Echo wrote: »
    Doc wrote: »
    Because the marginal increase in effort is not worth it when the payoff is just for me. When the increase in effort stays mostly the same, but the payoff is multiplied by two or three people, then it becomes much more worthwhile.

    Yeah. Spending an hour making dinner for myself? Don't do that very often. The same with company? Hell yeah.

    Plus people are around to keep you company while you cook. It turns cooking from a chore into a social event.

    I hate when other people are in the kitchen while I'm cooking, as do most of the best cooks I know.

    I'm afraid to say your in the overwhelming minority there, just look at modern kitchen design, everything is designed to increase the sociability of the kitchen area. Open plan entrances, breakfast bars, islands, kitchen table etc. Everyone I know loves having people to chat to while they cook. I mean, unless you are a professional chef working in a restaurant kitchen, then you only want employees around. Consider when you have a dinner party or anything, everyone always ends up in the kitchen. In fact if you look at most modern houses they are build around either the kitchen, or lounge as the core room. Cooking with friends is tonnes of fun.

    When I'm alone I eat terribly though, espescially if I'm bored! I'll always try to be disciplined and eat some cereal or something, but then I'll get bored and eat something else and so on. Crackers and ham are a big weakness of mine, espescially on long foreign travel trips with work. If you think you eat absurd stuff when you're home alone, try being alone in a foreign country staying in hotels and B&Bs. Eventually you just get so bored of restaurants that you view a pot of nutella and a loaf of bread as a delicious change from the norm :)

    Your puny weapons are useless against me
  • LucidLucid Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    The Cat wrote: »
    Lucid wrote: »
    I'm almost always stocked with various kinds of pasta, so I usually resort to that. Most of the time it's simple and plain, but I do make something nice according to recipes or whatever on occasion. Naan bread is also great for lone eating.
    Naan is awesome full stop. I've been known to trot up to the local takeaway just for one garlic and some sauce to dip it in...
    Yeah, Naan is great to dip. I'm always a fan of hummus with it.


    Oh, I don't understand why I forgot, but I indulge in a gratuitous amount of toast by myself.

    No museum needs another upside-down toilet bowl once it has one.
  • tbloxhamtbloxham Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Doc wrote: »
    oldsak wrote: »
    Doc wrote: »
    oldsak wrote: »
    Doc wrote: »
    Also regarding the gender differences: all that matters is that everyone, no matter what your gender, has eaten cold leftovers over the kitchen sink with their last clean fork.

    Or chopsticks (no matter what it is), because there are no clean forks.

    and then wiped off the utensil(s) with a paper towel and put it back in the drawer

    okay, maybe that's a guy thing.

    woah now, not even spritzing a little soap and water on it?

    run it under the faucet for like a second yeah

    I'm not a barbarian

    Wipe it off, run it under the tap and put it in the bottom of the sink. Then it will be ready for breakfast. Thats convenience right there!

    Your puny weapons are useless against me
  • TaramoorTaramoor Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    When alone, I eat soup out of a $3.99 plastic tub from the Safeway. Seriously, I ate nothing but that soup for lunch every day for a week. Sometimes a baloney sandwich if I'm feeling ritzy.

    When I'm with people I turn into a goddamn wannabe-Alton Brown. Not only do I cook elaborate food, but I explain it while doing so. I have to say though, making orange-zested french toast out of a brioche baguette does feel pretty awesome.

  • clownfoodclownfood packet pusher in the wallsRegistered User regular
    edited July 2009
    oldsak wrote: »
    Doc wrote: »
    Echo wrote: »
    Doc wrote: »
    Because the marginal increase in effort is not worth it when the payoff is just for me. When the increase in effort stays mostly the same, but the payoff is multiplied by two or three people, then it becomes much more worthwhile.

    Yeah. Spending an hour making dinner for myself? Don't do that very often. The same with company? Hell yeah.

    Plus people are around to keep you company while you cook. It turns cooking from a chore into a social event.

    I hate when other people are in the kitchen while I'm cooking, as do most of the best cooks I know.

    I somewhat agree with this. I think people that take cooking very seriously have a tendency to take over when they see someone doing something improperly and at the end of their rope, they just kick everyone out and finish cooking on their own. My mom is a great cook and she enjoyed showing me the ropes when it comes to cooking. I pass this along to my friends when I decide to make a large meal to share. Well partially to teach them something and partially to make my job easier because I am also pretty lazy when I can be. With a big enough prep and cooking area, cooking can be just as much of a social event as eating the actual meal. I have used my friends to do all my prep work for a huge pot of jambalaya that I invited them over to partake in. In the end, all I had to do is put it on the stove and keep and eye on it.

    Back on topic, it all depends on the mood I am in and how lazy I feel. Last night I wanted something Mexican but didn't want to head out to get tortilla wraps. So I made a taco salad of sorts. I diced up some chicken and fried it up with some salsa. I added some corn chips for a bit of the taco sensation and chopped up some lettuce, and tomato. Add some shredded cheese and a bit of salsa on top and you have a pretty decent meal.

    Right now I have a craving for grilled cheese sandwich with a bowl of roasted red pepper and tomato soup.

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  • devoirdevoir Registered User
    edited July 2009
    I have a high protein diet.

    This leads to disturbingly frequent, "Let's see, what goes with this can of tuna?" moments when I realise it's 8PM and I can't be stuffed prepping rice/pasta plus cooking meat and vegetables.

    Since I became single again, there is a lot more cooking in bulk. 4-5 cups of rice, rice goes in fridge for another two meals. Kilo of chicken/turkey/beef with appropriate sauce will probably last for the same number of meals. Plus a few kilos of stirfried vegetables.

    It gets boring, but when you eat as much as I do, there's no way around a little boredom unless I want to spend a full ten percent of my life in the kitchen. I love cooking, but an hour every night, plus breakfasts and lunches? No way, Jose.

  • SkeithSkeith Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    I think about dinner when I'm putting on my clothes in the morning. All it amounts to is, how much of a shit am I gonna give about what I actually eat later, or can I be bothered to do more than pull some chicken out of the freezer and start thawing it (generally it's no to both of those). When I'm out of just about everything, I've got one of those boxes of ramen you find at Costco. If there's eggs, an omelette made with those noodles usually holds me over for most of the day.

    Or I just buy cheap food/take home screwed up orders when I'm at work. Probably 20% of my diet is pizza these days.

    SS post
    mts wrote: »
    heres how i see it being a total win situation for you
    1. stay with your wife while she dog sits. this wins husband points since she knows its out of your comfort zone
    2. have sex all over her friends house so that the next time you see her friend look at you condescendingly, you can wink back knowing you did the freaky deaky where she eats her cheerios.
  • freelancerbobfreelancerbob UKRegistered User regular
    edited July 2009
    I eat...whatever's there.. I went a week on ham sandwiches alone once.

    Jacket potato with tuna or beans is quick and easy.

    I'm partial to a tin of chilli and some rice.

    Or I just throw some potato waffles and whatever else is in the freezer in the oven.

    Every once in a while it's time for a casserole, stew or similar.

    What is this thing that is happening here.
  • KelorKelor Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Generally I'll do one of three things if I'm by myself. Either rice, pasta (each with associated sauce) or a quick barbecue out the back with some minute steaks which I'll throw on some bread with cheese, lettuce, carrot and a bit of chilli sauce.

    It varies a little and depends what is in the fridge or cupboard, but I find it a stretch to cook for more than 15-20 minutes if it is just me.

  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Mostly my answer is sandwiches, ranging from peanut butter+whatever to some kind of dagwoodesque creation, if I'm feeling motivated. Easy, tasty, doesn't make much mess.

    edit: man I could never barbecue just for myself. but then I'm a charcoal/wood elitist, so it's more time consuming

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  • KelorKelor Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    I cheat and use gas.

    Chuck the BBQ on, walk inside and chop lettuce, walk back out and throw the steaks on and bam!

    Back inside a couple of minutes later for delicious steak sandwiches.

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