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Old 09-11-2012, 11:41 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by LakeTravis View Post
Where I've really noticed how expensive it is getting is fast food.
Ew. We avoid fast food like the plague. It just isn't that good, and as you point out, it is ridiculously expensive these days. I just checked and other than during our hurricane evacuation, we only ate lunch at a fast food place once so far this year (Wendy's).

I guess you are paying extra for the fast service, even though sometimes they seem slower than just a regular restaurant.

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Old 09-11-2012, 11:53 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Sarah in SC View Post
I'd always vote for the beer with dinner, W2R--to each his (or her) own. Whereas I completely agree about never wanting to eat anywhere with children!
Funny - it's the children that drove motivated me to drink beer with dinner.

We eat out, but usually with family members that share similar tastes and budget. It is one way to get together. Alcohol adds a lot to a restaurant bill, so we usually just even split but if someone doesn't drink alcohol we also just invite them.

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Old 09-11-2012, 12:35 PM   #23
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We'll often share a meal and most restaurants these days are accustomed to splitting it before it arrives, or we'll each order a meal, plus to-go boxes at the start, and divide them in 2 before we start eating - we find it easier to eat only half a portion that way.

I was once on business with a female colleague and the restaurant we were in had really good starters so we decided to have a starter each and split an entree. We ordered a fillet steak and when the waiter brought our plates he held them at head height as he jinked his way around the tables. I told him that I liked his style, and he replied that he held the trays up like that so he wouldn't be embarrassed by folks seeing him serving 4 oz steaks
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Old 09-11-2012, 01:11 PM   #24
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Being veggies we eat almost exclusively at home. I looked at Quicken for curiosities sake, dining is 2.5% of our last years spending. Less than $100 was spent for food within 50 miles of home, another $100 spent while shopping more than 100 miles away from home. Most of our dining expenses were travel related, out of state or out of country.

Groceries made up 15.5% of our budget.
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Old 09-11-2012, 01:35 PM   #25
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It sure seems like the cost of living in the area you live can make a difference. Living in a near suburb of a big eastern city means we have a hard time finding a good (and we only want good) restaurant where we can get a satisfying meal under $20. DW and I look at dining out as a treat, so we get what we're unlikely to make for ourselves at home. That usually ain't cheap. We're both decent cooks, so we can eat fairly well at home. But when we get the urge for, say, oysters, we'll pop for having someone else shuck them for us... No jive!
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Old 09-11-2012, 04:30 PM   #26
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Being a singleton, going out to eat with friends is a social activity for me. I go out for lunch with co-workers about twice a week (cost $8-10 plus tip). I have dinner out about once a month (although in August I ate out 3 times after the theater and once after work). I guess dinner averages $15-30 for the entree and $10-20 dollars for one alcoholic beverage (excludes tip). I tend to order seafood entrees, and I like nice places.

If I could not afford it, I would not eat out. I don't have to get a theater subscription and stay after to have dinner but it beats sitting at home alone watching TV and eating scrambled eggs or tuna fish.
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Old 09-11-2012, 06:08 PM   #27
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We avoid fast food like the plague. It just isn't that good, and as you point out, it is ridiculously expensive these days.
Yeah, we generally avoid fast food too, except when we are traveling and we don't want to take the time to stop for a sit-down meal. We were on the road this past weekend, and we did have a couple of McDonald's cheeseburgers, but after I eat something like that, I always regret it. We generally eat most meals at home, where we have control over what we cook, so the meals are much healthier. I have a big garden, so most days we have several servings of vegetables, along with some fish or farm-raised meat. We still enjoy eating out at ethnic restaurants occasionally, but it's more for the atmosphere and change of scenery (and ideas that I get from the dishes offered), than it is for the food itself.
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Old 09-11-2012, 06:15 PM   #28
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I eat breakfast out most mornings, unless I want a really good omelet or really good pancakes, in which case I cook at home! We like Wendy's breakfasts, so we eat there several mornings each week. I only eat lunch out once or twice a month...sometimes not at all. However, when it comes to dinner, we eat out at least half the time if not more. There are several 'hole in the wall' taverns around here that have great food for very low prices! One of them, which is about 10 miles away out in the middle of the cornfields, has an excellent salad bar that's included with every meal, and everything is made 'in house' and fresh! Two people can eat dinner there for less than $20, unless it's ribeye dinners, then it's about $25 for two people (in the several years that we've been going there, we've only had steak twice).

Occasionally we splurge, and go to a very nice up-scale restaurant a couple of towns over. They bill there restaurant as "Casual Elegance", and have everything from gourmet burgers to sushi to steaks to seafood....all fresh...all top quality. And amazingly, the prices are quite reasonable! Dinner for two, including appetizers, salads, entrees, and dessert, runs in the neighborhood of $40-60.

I seldom, if ever, order steak when we eat out, because I can buy custom-cut, prime ribeyes at the neighborhood butchershop for a lot less than restaurants charge, and grill them over the coals to perfection! And I've very seldom had steak at a restaurant that even came close to my standards.
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Old 09-11-2012, 06:35 PM   #29
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We often share or take the remainder home for a second meal, which helps.
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Old 09-11-2012, 07:02 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Sarah in SC View Post
Ah, that might work. I just imagine DH taking all the "good" stuff and leaving me the stuff he doesn't like, while I'm distracted. Trust issues....

You have to be quick Sarah!
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Old 09-11-2012, 07:17 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by W2R View Post
Ew. We avoid fast food like the plague. It just isn't that good, and as you point out, it is ridiculously expensive these days. I just checked and other than during our hurricane evacuation, we only ate lunch at a fast food place once so far this year (Wendy's).

I guess you are paying extra for the fast service, even though sometimes they seem slower than just a regular restaurant.
W2R, I truly do miss all the really good and inexpensive places to eat all over New Orleans. There are so many options. Here in DC, there are plenty of options, but the good places cost much more, or you can go to an inexpensive place but the food won't be very good.
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Old 09-11-2012, 07:38 PM   #32
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We are bad for eating out and since I track costs monthly have noticed eating out category slowly creeping up. Some months spending more eating out than on groceries!!! The thing is we don't really eat out that much, but it adds up so fast. With alcoholic drink and entree it's $50 total for two. Recently we have just gotten water on these outings and it has helped.

Also we've been going more to a local dive that is really good versus a more fancy place. Overall we eat dinner out about 2 to 3X per week and breakfast out maybe 1X per month. Usually I eat lunch at home and I have no idea what my girlfriend does for lunch as she doesn't pack one and too far for her to drive home from work.

As others mentioned, if you go out and meet a friend for wings/beer, is it eating out or entertainment. Obviously abit of both. Yea I could cut down on that, but I also don't want to be totally cut off as this is what friends my age (mid thirties) do rather than go to bars like before.
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Old 09-11-2012, 08:24 PM   #33
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Accounting, I'd say we are closer to what you are doing, except we almost always been bag for lunch. We go out a few times a week, usually cheaper places, and might spend $20-$30 each time. Some weeks we don't go out at all, though, so it balances out.
But as you say, we like seeing our friends and this is how we socialize.
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Old 09-11-2012, 10:41 PM   #34
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We live in a rural area ...maybe 8,000 in the city and 30,000 in the surrounding county. After a light breakfast, I really can not eat 2 meals so lunch is not important to me. I'm sort of a grazer during the day. When I do go to is probably $10.00 max.

Good restaurants have had a tough go of it where I live with some shutting down in this economy. It has become a complaint of mine. I also have a hard time paying money for not so good food consequently I cook a lot and my husband grills something I have bought or prepared probably once or twice a week. But since I get tired of cooking every night we do take out probably twice a week - usually Chinese or a dinner from the one or two restaurants locally I will eat the food of or a pizza.

For a nicer restaurant and better food, we drive 45 minutes to an hour and will go once a week or so. Usually a Saturday night. When we do this we don't get out of there cheap. Last week-end the margarita was $15. My husband had 2 that was $45 just for drinks. We also had appetizers and both had an we didn't get out of their for less than $130.00 with the tip..for the two of us. But I did point out to him that without the drinks and the appetizers, we could have done it for far less...maybe like $60.00 or $70.00.

Bottom line I am picky about food. I will not order locally a fettuccine alfredo, mongolian beef, cajun blackened salmon., filet mignon, she crab soup, oyster stew, burgandy beef or whatever when what I make at home is far better. Not to mention our burgers are better cooked on our own grill! That sort of thing. So when we go out we splurge...because it better be better than what I can make!
That said W2R...New Orleans has some of the best food I have eaten. Love the food there!. So do Las Vegas, New York!

O.K. NOW I am hungry!
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Old 09-11-2012, 10:59 PM   #35
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Treated a couple of friends to lunch today at a local Asian place. Un apertif (shared) plus 3 lunches, $40 including a generous (>15%) tip.

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Old 09-12-2012, 04:13 AM   #36
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Food is indeed glorious to me. I tend to spend a fair bit eating out because it is something I enjoy and will give up a new dress for a good meal. I also view eating out like "wine tasting" - I get fresh ideas on new ways to cook, what ingredients to use and presentation. I usually order a drink with my meal and I guess that's where restaurants make money - on drinks. I don't mind paying for a good meal as long as I don't feel ripped off. I also do my homework and find out for promotions or credit card discounts available. I have a monthly dine out group of friends and we like to try out new and good food once a month - the bill is always split evenly regardless of what one orders. Only one of us do not drink, so she orders a mocktail or juice. Since we know each other for some time, we are very frank with how much we want to spend. If some of us want to try something truly expensive and I don't find it value for money (usually one of those molecular haute cuisine which I shun), I just tell them that I'll skip the dinner and they should go ahead without me. With DH, most meals are home-cooked as I love to cook and about twice a week we eat a nice dinner in good restaurants. We usually order drinks with dinner. We do get some visitors from overseas and I think we are quite generous with treating them to meals.
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Old 09-12-2012, 04:25 AM   #37
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We both love good food and wine. I'd rather spend my money on that than on more "stuff".
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Old 09-12-2012, 05:18 AM   #38
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We don't eat out that much, maybe once a month or less, so it's not even a line item in the budget. When we do it's with friends or relatives and we get our own check. I stopped ordering drinks other than iced tea years ago after getting rapped $9.50 for a Long Island Iced Tea.

When we do go out it's usually to an upscale place, the total will be $70-$100 for two including tip. I guess that's why we don't do it often.
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Old 09-14-2012, 05:17 AM   #39
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We don't eat out too often. Part of that is because the quality of what we consider reasonably priced menus is not that good and partly because we have both worked in restaurants and exclusive country clubs in the past. The cleanliness, food handling, and inferior ingredients can be more than a little scary (Kitchen Nightmares is not understated).

When we do dine out we find the starters, deserts, and drinks are both too expensive and more importantly they are more than we can eat with our meal. On occasion I may have a beer but usually water with lemon provides a nice drink that cleanses the palate and doesn't clash with the flavor of the food.

One area of expense I have never quite understood is the suggested increase in tip from 15 to 20% a few years ago. The explanation I have heard is that the cost of living has gone up. However, since the cost of the menu items are higher too then that is reflected in a higher realized tip at the same 15%. That being said I tip according to the service given. Higher than 15% if the service is exceptional and less if it is below what is acceptable. Throughout our work years we both never gave less than our best effort and we expect the same from others (restaurant and wait staff) if they expect compensation from our pockets.

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Old 09-14-2012, 05:54 AM   #40
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We go to nice places 2-3 times a week and have slowly migrated to sitting at the bar versus a table and ordering appetizers or small plates.

We don't do this to save money (although we do!) but we find that we don't eat as much as we used to. It does cut our eat out bill in half and we also don't over-eat.

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