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3 Frugal Tips for Foodies Who Love Eating Out

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Foodies make cooking at home and eating out fun and exciting. Their culinary zest is intoxicating but can make living on a budget challenging.

My husband is a foodie. Where women have an addiction to Pinterest, he has an addiction to looking at recipes and unique restaurant menus online.

I admit, his cooking skills are probably the #1 reason I married him aside from his charm and good looks of course. I plan to teach my daughter this very important lesson as well. Marry a man who knows and loves food and you can get away with barely making dinner for the rest of your life. 🙂

Of course, eating out and trying new food can get pretty expensive. Foodies love to experiment with strange things they find at the grocery store. They also love to seek out random, highly expensive restaurants that one of their famed food bloggers recommended.

So, how do you indulge foodie tendencies without breaking the bank? How do you let them pick up that weird vegetable at the store without obsessing about the strain it puts on your budget? How do you support their desire to try out that new exotic restaurant when you really just want to stay home?

Well, from someone who has been with an extreme foodie for almost 10 years, here are some ideas:

1. Go to Restaurant Weeks

 

It’s almost restaurant week in NYC, and I can promise you my husband has already read through the menu of every restaurant that’s participating. Restaurant week allows you to try out high end places at a very reduced cost. We could go to Delmonico for $38 he tells me, eyes glimmering with the thought of steak.

They often have special menus with a few different, lower cost options. We went to restaurant week when we lived in Richmond too, so I know a few cities have them. Check with your city’s main tourist website to see if a place near you is participating.

2. Treat your foodie to Lunch

 

There is an absolutely amazing restaurant in New Orleans that my husband has wanted to try for years called Augusts. Last Christmas, we stopped in there for lunch. Although dinner there will cost you $300, a three course lunch on Friday will run you about $20 a person for the same food (but you have to make your reservation way in advance. Check it out if you’re going to FinCon.) Plus in New Orleans, no one feels weird about ordering drinks at lunch. It’s actually expected so you can definitely create the dinner vibe for a much lower price.

Foodies make cooking at home and eating out fun and exciting. Their culinary zest is intoxicating but can make living on a budget challenging.

3. Look for Groupons

 

Foodies tend to like really interesting cuisine. For example, after my husband spent a summer in India, he’ll do anything to have an Indian dinner. Of course, I had an unfortunate experience with Indian food coming out of my nose during the first trimester of my pregnancy, so I don’t want to eat Indian food ever again for as long as I live (it burns, man!) So, I encourage him to look for Groupons for Indian restaurants where he can pop in for a lunch without me and without spending too much of our hard earned cash.

 

If you have a foodie in your family, how do you encourage all of their food lovin’ without breaking your budget? Are you adventurous when it comes to food or do you have a more limited range of personal favorites that you prefer to stick to?

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Catherine Alford is a professional public speaker and freelance writer who covers family, finance, and freedom. Check out her blog, BudgetBlonde, and her bio at CatherineAlford.com.

33 Comments

  • Thanks for your great tips, Cat! My husband and I are both “foodies” of sorts, but also are so frugal we hate to eat out when one dinner could equal our monthly food budget. :-/ What we usually do if we want to try something unique outside of our own kitchen is to find hole-in-the-wall, family-run, truly authentic restaurants. California is full of these, and they usually have the best food at the best prices giving the best (as in “biggest”) portions. This especially works well for Asian: Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, etc.

  • Amy says:

    Great tips, especially using Groupons/Living Socials. I always try to take advantage of those deals – and both can be purrchased through Ebates, saving even a little more.

    I would also add that if you live in an area with definite “seasons”, save most of your dining out budget for the off-season. Our town is hopping over the summer, and restaurants and businesses openly increase prices to take advantage of the influx of visitors. So we tend to eat out more during the cold, winter months, when restaurants are looking for more business.

  • We have a “restaurant week” in our downtown area where you can try some expensive restaurants for a fixed-menu price of $30. I went once for a work event and it was fun! Usually I am too cheap to pay that much for dinner though =)

  • LOL, funny about the Idian food. 🙂 Thanks for these awesome tips! I’d read about restaurant week before, but totally forgot about it.

  • I’ve never done restaurant week because I still find the prices to be crazy high. Maybe it’s because I’m vegetarian. I’m just not willing to pay $38 before tax and tip for pasta and veggies- no matter how fancy. And there are SO many other options in NYC.

  • Fellow male foodie here, and also the Chef of the Pizel household. Whenever we go out to eat, I’m looking for something on the menu I haven’t had, or don’t make at home. If I go and order something I can make at home, I feel it’s a complete waste of money. what I find is that we need to put limits on our dining out…but then again, I’d rather cook at home than go out anyway. 🙂

  • Good tips…we usually use them when we eat out. I like eating out at different places, but I don’t know if I consider myself a foodie. Also, I don’t necessarily find the expensive or highly rated restaurants to be better than a family owned hole in the wall restaurant. You can also check out restaurant.com which is like groupon for restaurants only (make sure to use a coupon code too).

  • Michelle says:

    We really like Restaurant.com. We have found many awesome restaurants through that website!

  • Aldo @ MDN says:

    I also went to August in New Orleans for lunch and I couldn’t believe I was able to eat such a delicious lunch for so cheap. We really didn’t have to make reservations and we went on a weekday (other than Friday), but maybe now they offer it only on Fridays. August restaurant is a definitely must if you are in New Orleans. We also found a place there with $0.25 martinis during lunch. I forget the name, but it shouldn’t be too hard to find.

  • Kim says:

    Having kids is actually a great way to lower your restaurant costs. You really don’t want to go with little ones and now our idea of a great dinner out is to go to Red Robin. We aren’t foodies though, so that suits us fine. I get nervous if I have to Google things on the menu!

  • Liz says:

    I would add that happy hour is another great way to save on food and drinks. There’s a family owned restaurant in our town that serves 25 cent wings on Fridays for happy hour. Pretty awesome.

  • I can see why you have an aversion to Indian food now. We definitely enjoy good food and enjoyed more upscale dining pre-kids. Kids and fine dining don’t really go hand-in-hand. 🙂 I do agree that lunch is a great way to try an upscale place at much lower cost.

  • Heather Harrington says:

    Clint and I are constantly looking for way to save because we love exploring the culture (and of course food) of New Orleans. I know August is Coolinary month here, so we can go to Galatoire’s or John Besh’s Steakhouse and get a three course meal for $35 a person! I also constantly check restaurant.com for coupon codes to get discounted meals even cheaper.

  • Joseph Brown says:

    My wife and I are both restaurants lovers, and we are also somewhat cheap. We love going to our favorite restaurants and just ordering appetizers as a meal. Most appetizers are quite filling, and cost 25% or more less than entrees. Great post!

  • The lunch idea is very good. I do have this idea that dining in the evening is more relaxing, romantic, and appropriate for atmosphere, but what does that come from? Being more frugal means getting rid of some preconceived notions. Delicious food on a week-end at lunch time is something I could get used to : )

  • I definitely recommend going for lunch rather than dinner. We do that too especially if it’s a new place and we’re not sure if we’d like it.

  • These are some awesome tips! Thanks for sharing them. Eating out is the one weakness in my budget. I’d suggest one other option, too: Restaurant.com. That site has some of the best coupons and deals anywhere! They’re not usually the most popular restaurant spots, but you’ll definitely get used to trying different places! 🙂

  • Nicola says:

    Great tips! We’ve had some wonderful meals using groupon 🙂 I’ve never heard of restaurant week before – wish that happened in the UK!

  • I am the foodie of the family. We have blown a lot of our budgets by just simply eating out. Even though we are trying to curb our eating out habits, I still enjoy going out on the town to eat something I have never had.

  • Poor Student says:

    Haha your husband sounds like me! I also like to look up restaurant menus online. Never heard about Restaurant Week — but I’ll keep this in mind when I visit NY next time. I also like to check Groupon regularly, sometimes it’s a got some pretty good deals!

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