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A Recessionista’s Guide to Dining by Raz

by Prince Of Petworth December 11, 2008 at 11:00 am 33 Comments

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Well, we are all aware the economy is fracked. So what are you doing to cut back? Here are some suggestions from Raz.

In these times of the bad economy and economic distress, there are small things you can to do sock away your cash and stop spending so much.

Eating three square meals a day can be a black hole of spending, especially if you go out for all your meals. I am a believer in cooking for myself. It is cheaper, healthier and fresher. In the past five years, I have developed a science of sorts to buy the right amount of groceries and doing my cooking in bulk to make all of my meals for the week.

Here are some of my tips and tricks.

1. Make your own coffee in the morning. Brewing a fresh cup of coffee takes less than five minutes. I know everyone is busy and usually rushing to work, but taking another few minutes won’t make you late, and will save you hundreds of dollars a year, depending on what coffee you drink you prefer.

2. Make yourself a hearty breakfast that will hold you over until lunch. I am a big fan of oatmeal and egg sandwiches. For the oatmeal. I buy the huge silo of grains that is $2, and I add cranberries and pecans that I bought at Costco, along with Splenda, cinnamon and brown sugar. I think it’s delicious, and each bowl maybe costs me $0.50, if that. For the egg sandwich, I cook Egg Beaters in the microwave in a bowl. Sometimes I sprinkle some Feta cheese in it. I then put it on an English muffin. Lately I have been nixing the Feta and putting a bit of Avocado and Laughing Cow spreadable cheese on my English muffin. Again, maybe this sandwich costs me $1, if that. Buying a similar sandwich would probably be $3-$5, and that difference adds up over time. Continues after the jump.
3. Bring Your Lunch. Buying lunch at work everyday is a serious money trap. I figure it’s about $50 a week/$200 month, which is $2400 a year. That’s a lot of money to spend on something that is usually mediocre. I always make my lunch the night before which makes it a lot easier to just grab when I’m running out the door in the morning. I also cook in bulk and put the food directly into Tupperware in lunch-size portions, so they are ready to go.

4. Do Potlucks. Lately, instead of going out to eat with friends, my friends and I have been doing potlucks. Everyone brings a dish, and we take turns hosting. It is fun, and more intimate than being out at a restaurant. For those that can’t cook, you can grab something at the store to bring.

5. Take Advantage of Weekday Deals. There are a lot of great happy hour and weekday specials at restaurants. Make these your nights to go out for dinner.

6. Skip the Extras. Another way to save money while dining out is to skip the extras. Stick with water and skip the dessert and appetizer. It will keep your bill down, and it’s better for your waistline too.

7. Buy Fresh. The closer your food is to its original form, the less expensive it is. For example, making a salad at the grocery store salad bar is significantly more expensive that buying all the fresh ingredients to make your own salad. Lately, instead of buying pre-made muffins, cookies, etc., I have been baking my own. I have been experimenting with new recipes. The snacks I make are healthy, and maybe cost me a few dollars for significantly more food than if I were to go buy it at the grocery store.

8. Clip Coupons. Coupons are a great way to save money. I have been reading a lot of stories lately about how coupons are becoming more popular. The Sunday Washington Post has coupons each week. You can also go online and print out coupons.

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