When the lights at the bar switch on, the DJ yells, “last call for drinks” and everyone stumbles out the exit, it’s that time again: the hunt for drunk food. Unfortunately carb-free, low-calorie fast food meals don’t exist at 3 a.m. Instead you’ll end up shoving something greasy or deep-fried into your mouth while watching Real Housewives of New Jersey reruns. Whether you wake up still cuddling your half-eaten Jimmy John’s sub or scrub tzatziki sauce out of your hair from last night’s gyro and fry, drunk food is one of the best and worst parts about the weekend. While finishing an entire Jack’s pizza by yourself is an impressive and euphoric experience, drunk food eventually takes a dire toll on your wallet and your thighs. Here’s how to avoid making a beeline for Qdoba whenever you leave the bars.
1. Pre-make Your Drunk Food
Power-walk past the delicious fast food restaurants on your way home from the bars to an even more delicious meal waiting for you at home. Quick fixes like chicken and rice or pre-cut fruit make a great alternative to a greasy fast food meal. When you realize the time has finally arrived to head home and devour the (free) meal you made earlier, suddenly waiting in line for McNuggets doesn’t sound so appealing.
2. Keep an Emergency Stash
So you don’t want the healthy meal you prepared before hitting the bars. No need to call for delivery just yet. Although you won’t do yourself any favors in the calorie department, frozen pizzas or boxes of macaroni and cheese from the grocery store are a lot cheaper than takeout. A word of caution: this is your emergency stash for drunk nights when willpower doesn’t exist; avoid using these for the nights when you are just too lazy to cook. Your wallet will thank you.
3. Only Bring Cash to the Bars
After a few hours at the bars with my friends, my debit card magically transforms into a plastic rectangle of fun and I suddenly become an heiress to an imaginary bottomless bank account. Bottom line: having a debit card while you’re drunk is a bad idea and leads to a miserable Sunday morning when you have to check your bank account. If you keep only cash in your wallet, not only do you get to physically see what you spend but you can soberly decide the amount you want to spend that night. At the end of the night, when you’ve spent your last five dollars on a vodka soda and your wallet is empty, you will be forced to walk home without stopping to buy food.
4. Eat a Big Meal Beforehand
Before you even begin drinking, make an effort to have a large, healthy meal. Not only will this prevent you from getting crazy drunk (unless that’s your main goal, in which case move along to tip #5), but it can also help you stay full and avoid another meal at the end of the night.
5. Drink Water
Make an honest effort to drink two full glasses of water before reaching for the last slice of Papa John’s pizza. This is a good strategy if you actually have to be useful the following day and can’t afford to lie on the couch and watch Love and Hip Hop reruns for twelve hours. Drinking water like a beluga whale will not only help you rehydrate faster but also make yourself feel fuller, thus potentially helping to curb your appetite.
6. Bring a Snack to the Bar
No I’m not joking, and yes you’ll thank me when you try it. Pop a granola bar or a bag of pretzels in your clutch right next to your lipstick and eyeliner. Depending on how shameless you are, excuse yourself to the bathroom and eat in private or whip that out in between tequila shots.
7. Make a Pact with Your Friend
Look deep into each other’s eyes before you take your first sip of pinot grigio and solemnly swear that you will not, under any circumstances, stop at the Fried and Fabulous food cart on the walk home tonight (this exists on the UW-Madison campus and the fried Oreos are delicious). Hopefully at 2 a.m. at least one of you will still have an inkling of willpower and the strength to drag your other friend away from the line in front of Chipotle.
8. Downsize Your Drunk Food
OK, steps one through seven didn’t work. You’re in line at McDonalds, preparing in your head the order that will take you 45 seconds to recite to the poor, unknowing cashier. STOP. Stop right there. Do you really need a McDouble, Filet-O-Fish and six-piece McNugget? Is that Blizzard really necessary? The McRib isn’t even in season right now. Sure, your taste buds will thank you as you enjoy your feast; however, two weeks from now your ass will not as you try squeezing into your jeans. Sometimes you just need to eat fried food with reckless abandon, but at least have the good sense to choose smaller portions. Not only will you feel better in the morning, but it will allow you to enjoy crappy food without the insane calorie intake.