Monday, August 16

How To Be a Frugal Foodie

I've received a suggestion from this guy that I should list the prices of each dish. Great suggestion and I will definitely work on listing menu prices. With that suggestion and inspiration from Extra Petite's entry , I decided to give you guys a few tips on dining and traveling for the budget conscious. It's actually quite a misconception that I spend alot of money dining out because I have this blog so let me show you how I manage all these yummy eats into my modest budget.

  1. Don't eat out for lunch on work days. I always pack a lunch from last night's dinner leftovers and may allow myself to eat out once a week or for special occasions such as a coworker's birthday. Although lunch can get pretty boring sometimes, I am usually very good with sticking to this rule.
  2. Skip the drinks. The savings on overpriced drinks can be used elsewhere, like an appetizer. I usually skip drinks when we have lunch on vacations also.
  3. Go for Happy Hour. Even on vacation, we research beforehand and choose restaurants that offer happy hour prices. It's a good way to try new foods without paying too much.
  4. Yelp is your friend. When I tried Morocco's, it was to take advantage of their wine tasting and appetizer deal found on yelp. The meal still ended up being pricey because we just like to eat alot of food but Yelp does post some nice deals.
  5. Don't be ashamed to use coupons and gift certificates. I have no shame basically. We don't get our hands on dining coupons or certificates too often but we use them when we have them. Just don't try this on a first date.
  6. Have your boyfriend pay for your meals. Just kidding...or am I?
  1. Hotel deals. We always book with the Marriott because we get a good deal there. If you don't have this hookup, definitely keep your eyes open for travel/lodging/entertainment packages. Make sure you always comparison shop and that you trust who you're booking with.
  2. Book a hotel with a fridge or kitchenette and if possible, a complimentary breakfast. We often make use of the complimentary breakfast or store our dinner leftovers and heat them for brunch the next day. This results in not having to eat out for breakfast and lunch and we can splurge on a great dinner.
  3. Make use of airport shuttles, public transportation, and free hotel parking. We have gotten quite savvy at taking public transportation. Yes it takes up more time and you may not be able to squeeze in jam packed vacations but we are the relaxing type so it's ok. You save on car rental and taxi fees. On a related note, when we are driving, we book a little outside of the main city because the hotel rate is cheaper, and we drive in for the day. For example, when we went to Seattle, WA, we actually stayed in Kent. Where?!? Yeah, I know but it was cheaper and not too far away.
  4. Steal shampoo and conditioner. I'm just kidding. This won't save you much money. It will just result in shampoo that doesn't smell that great and bottles that run out after two washes.
  1. Set yourself a budget. It's tempting to make food choices based solely on cravings, but this leads to what I call "hungry in the eyes." This also applies to grocery shopping. Decide for yourself before you order that you want this meal to stay under a certain amount.
  2. Asian food is pretty cheap.
  3. I'm only showing you the good stuff. I eat at home most of the time and we cook for ourselves also but those meals aren't pictured.
I hope you have found this useful. I will try not to write this much anymore but I thought it would be beneficial to share our tips. I'm sure everyone has their own ways to budget a meal or vacation and I'd love to hear them.


  1. I research every detail of my trip first to come up with a grand total, then added several hundred bucks as a worst case scenario. Then, I set aside that amount while still committing to my savings plan, no matter how long it takes to reach that amount. Then, I can spend my money on the vacation guilt free because I know that I didn't splurge on the trip as my savings plan is still on track. This works for an expensive meal too. Toshiro and I like to go gourmet sometimes and it costs about 100-200 bucks a person, but we've saved up for it over a few weeks, so we don't feel guilty or have sticker shock. =P

  2. Good ideas. Phil and I are not that great at budgeting per meal. We do all the above throughout the weeks and months and then treat ourselves to an all out dinner for special occasions without worrying about the price. I do plan vacations similarly to you. I work out most of the details and research several food options of different genres so we can somewhat follow our cravings when we get there.

  3. Have guy pay for meal.....that's the best planning a girl has to do.

  4. I feel sorry for you Phil... Ngoc is a foodie. She gets the good stuff. No wonder you're always eating hamburgers and California rolls - They're the cheapest thing on the menu!

  5. @Shawn. Good observation my friend. And all this time I thought he really liked those foods...

  6. I'm not a big believer in buying sashami at a restaurant when I'm totally tasified with the sashami I buy from the Japanese market. I'm a huge fan of burgers and CA Rolls. I wouldn't change much even if it was one of the pricier foods.

  7. digg your entry ngocstar. please keep more travel tips/ways of saving money coming!



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