How to Eat Out on a Budget

The answer is .. you don’t.

At least, if I do, it’s very rare these days.

Dim sum, sushi and Red Lobster are my only dining out treats, but even they are quite rare … a few times a year.

Let’s do the math of dining out in comparison to cooking at home.

The last time I went out for AYCE sushi, I spent $17 and change. And that didn’t include a $3 tip.

In comparison, I spent $10 ($14 regular price with a 30% discount 30%) on a smoked picnic shoulder ham, and another $7 for a package of 4 fresh, skinless, bone in chicken breasts. Sometimes you can find boneless chicken breasts on deep discount.

After boiling the ham, I ended up with 18 cups of broth. I used half of the broth to make 11 cups/servings of ham and bean soup. I used 2 cups of diced cooked ham in the soup and still had enough ham left over for eight generous servings for other meals.

As to the chicken breasts, which were big enough to serve two people each if just simply breaded and baked, the possible usages are plentiful. Another option is turning the meat into breaded cutlets or chicken fillets.

Admittedly, chicken and pork are the most inexpensive proteins available … $2 – 2.50 a pound. Fish and seafood are a lot pricier. And a premium steak. The savings of cooking at home aren’t as obvious, but it’s still cheaper than dining out … two meals in for the price of one meal in a restaurant.

Every time I get tempted to dine out, I do the math.

Although, being frugal in my grocery shopping means that I CAN afford to treat myself occasionally.

What’s your favourite dining out treat? Do you eat out as much as you used to 5 yrs ago, 10?

ETA: I spent $18 on this name brand (Butterball) turkey bought frozen for $1.49 a pound. Lots of breast meat, thighs turned into a spicy Indian curry dish, roasted wings and drumsticks, turkey and rice soup, giblet and rice dressing, delicious gravy and the carcass will end up in a big pot turkey stock.


6 thoughts on “How to Eat Out on a Budget

  1. I totally agree… even eating out fast food is expensive here in Switzerland. The worst is that even fancy/expensive restaurants often serve low quality products named and served in a pretentious way (most restaurants use really cheap low quality rice for maki sushi here for example) and Indian food is so greasy, I stopped eating it out because I felt really bad afterwards.
    Even since I started to buy organic and free range (90% of my grocery shopping), I still spend nothing compared to people who eat out regularly (or have takeaways) and I’m sure I eat better quality!
    The only thing I eat out regularly is a good Italian pizza (these are not expensive and really delicious here) because I cannot make it in my home oven.
    I enjoy eating out in Japan though! There are lots of cheap and really excellent restaurants. If I lived in Japan I wouldn’t cook every day, I’m pretty sure.

    1. I wish I could experience restaurants in Japan. I’d probably go out more often especially locally.

      There are restaurants with wood burning ovens in town that make excellent pizzas .. individual pan pizzas run around $10-12 per person, but, of course, you don’t just have a pizza when you go out. Especially if you go out with friends. There are apps (I love fried calamari), a nice salad, a glass of wine and a piece of pastry, a slice of tiramisu or torte, at minimum. The other drawback to going out though, is the lack of company. If I’m going to eat alone, I prefer to do it at home.

      1. Luckily for my wallet, a pizza is already too much (I often don’t manage to finish it…), so I would never think of appetisers or desserts (I’ve never had any of those together with a pizza, I think). Maybe pizzas are bigger here?
        Wine does add to the bill of course, if I go out at night, but it happens rarely….

      2. I usually only eat half the personal pie ($7-16 each, 2 for one specials, salad $4-8 each depending on if full or side salad) … leaving room for dessert. 🙂

  2. I think you are an inspiration. Many people, especially the young starting out on their own, don’t cook hardly at all. It is fast food or already prepared food which they just reheat.

    1. You get used to eating out a lot when you’re living at home and don’t have utility, mortgage, car, tax etc bills to pay. Then you go out on your own and reality strikes. 🙂

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