Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fun with Frugality - Eating Out

I am here to give you my take on the economy. Now, granted, I am no expert. But I have been pretty frugal all my life (out of necessity) and now, while not so much of a necessity, it has become habit and I enjoy it. Today I want to speak about eating out.

I know, the first thought is - What? She is telling me to be frugal and then telling me to eat out? Not at all, dear readers. What I would like to tell you is how you can fit a little eating out now and then into a frugal food budget.

First of all, I would like to explain that I live in a small town (10,000) in the Midwest. We do not have a lot of options here. Also, while I know that a lot of fast food is not healthy, once in a while it will not kill you. I am very time crunched a lot of days and I think that my crew appreciates a change now and then.

1) Try ethnic restaurants. Often, small ethnic restaurants have cheaper menus than other franchises. Plus, you get the added bonus of trying something that you might really discover you like. Here in the Midwest, we do not have a lot of ethnic restaurants, so this is not much of an option for us.

2) Order off the lunch menu. A lot of times the dinner menu is just too much food for me. Another thing I would like to explain here is that I dislike eating in a restaurant. I prefer to get my food to go and eat it at home. So, for example, sometimes if we order Chinese for lunch, I will order an extra. Then, I take it home and heat it up for supper.

3) Order takeout or carry out or delivery. Usually - not always, but usually - you get more food with a takeout option than you do if you eat in the restaurant. Example - our local Chinese restaurant lunch specials (around $6) will easily feed me for 2 meals. One of our local Mexican restaurants has a fajita special - you get beef, chicken, shrimp and chorizo with onions and peppers, refried beans, rice, guacamole, fresh salsa, chips, tortillas, lettuce and sour cream (around $12)- will feed 4 people easily. There is usually a delivery charge, so if possible, go pick your food up.

4) Drinks are always costly. Ice water with lemon works nicely for me, if I am eating in. If eating at home or work, grab a can of soda or glass of water - much cheaper.

5) Clip your coupons. We regularly get coupons in the mail for Arby's, Hardee's, Pizza Hut, Dominos, Sonic. Some places will let you use the coupons more than once.

6) Buy a local discount card. I work with a lady who has a son in Boy Scouts. They sell a card every year for $10. The card is good for all year. It has all kinds of discounts on it, some of them a one time use, but most of the restaurants listed are multi-use - you can use them all year, as many times as you like. Granted, some of them are only 10% off, but that at least pays for your tax! Check with your schools to see if they sell any such thing.

7) Order off of the children's menu. This is great for me, especially at a fast food restaurant - just enough food, not too much and I get a toy - I have a Sunday School Class and this goes into the grab bag for treats. The kids love it!

8) Check out local fundraisers. We are always seeing adds for local chicken dinners, hog roasts, etc. Some of the food is quite good and the price per plate less than what you would pay for fast food.

9) Sometimes buffet to go is the way to eat. For example - at our local chinese buffet you can get buffet to go for around $7 a pound. To eat in at the buffet costs $14 per person. Now, I don't know about you, but if I eat at a buffet, I tend to over-eat and be miserable. So get the buffet to go, usually a pound or less is plenty for me - 2 pounds if hubby is eating as well. There - 2 people ate for the price of 1.

Well, there you have them, my biggest tips for Fun with Frugality - Eating Out. Do any of you have any tips to add? We all need to stick together in these hard economic times.

Wishing you joy and happiness on this Thursday - Raquel


Brenda Leyland said...

Found your link at Brenda's.

Looks like we share more than just a few interests in cats, books and such. I enjoyed my visit. Will have to come again.

Oh yes, there is another shared link.... I really love that quote about singleness of eye and grace from Anne Morrow Lindberg's book.

Kindred spirits, perhaps?

Blessings and great joy to you! Stop by sometime!

Brenda L.

Simply Heart And Home said...


Great eating out tips! My only tip is that sometimes restaurants have an "early bird" special. One restaurant in particular has this between 5 pm and 6:30 pm. Generally you have 4 or 5 entrees to choose from and receive a salad, drink, and dessert as well. Plus I like to go early before the crowds! :)



Brenda Leyland said...

PS. Oh, yes, mysteries.... you mention some of my favourite sleuths!

Vicky said...

We usually eat out to go sure to ask for condiments and if they provide chips or bread if you dine in ask for two portions!

Simply Heart And Home said...

Just dropping by to say BOO to you! Have a lovely evening.