How do you save money eating out...or staying home and cooking?

(I was asked to start a thread about this as it seems like many have a problem with this issue. So here ya go!)

I guess I’ll start this by saying, if you lost your job tomorrow, do you have enough saved to live for six months for more? ???

o We share food when we go out. Always. Especially breakfast which, IMneverHO, is generally WAY more than most people would eat at home. Had this for breakfast this morning in Naxos, Greece. Two eggs on ham and cheese slices, a little salad, a ‘cookie,’ toast with butter and honey (dang, THAT was good!), fresh squeezed orange juice and filtered coffee (paid extra for a second cup of coffee). All in pre-tip under $12. Here’s that breakfast.

When we go out to breakfast we rarely have coffee as we’ve already had a cup at home. That saves a few to more than a few bucks.

o If it’s a ‘special’ meal, we don’t feel the need to be FULL. Satisfied is fine when the food/service/etc. are special. Come home and have a cookie :slight_smile:

o We generally eat lunch out rather than dinner as it almost always costs less. But we’re retired so that may not work as well for everyone.

o We always take any leftover that can possibly be repurposed. I can make an omelet out of almost anything - even salad that already has a vinaigrette type dressing on it. Fries reheat great on a baking sheet in a 350 oven. The MW is my friend :slight_smile:

o A LOT of the meat we buy is what a friend used to call “brown meat.” You know, the stuff that’s 30%-50% off.

I hope others will share ways they cut back.

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Great stuff!

Do you put the $ you save away or automatically put away a certain amount each month and pretend you don’t have it? Because some will just spend it on other unnecessaries (is that a word?)

I think you and your mate also have to be on the same page.

I’m too squeamish for on-sale meat. But am going to start taking other steps and will report back.

Oh yeah… great looking breakfast.


**“How do you save money eating…”

We save money by eating well in other countries.

At home, we save money by eating at home. Dining out, our bar bill always easily exceeds the food portion, so we’ve learned to buy fresh vegetables, meats, live seafood and have at it at home.

We love Japanese food. For the same coinage tossed here in SF, we can dive into the food on a Japan trip. Sashimi, Tempura, Curry, Tofu, etc…

Live swimming Aji pulled out of the tank, less than USD$12 for the plate.

Seafood, meats and vegetables freshly fried. Served piece by piece. I shudder to think the damage in SF for same meal.

Breakfast in London?? Liver & Bacon, onions for SO. English Breakfast for me. GBP 20.50 total including tea and 2 x Americano coffee. (Giant buttered toast not pictured.)

75cl bottle of chilled Prosecco and a duck confit wrap, total around USD $20. Soaking in the scene at the street market, priceless.

The USD is very strong now. Traditionally expensive destinations like Paris and Tokyo are now “cheaper” than San Francisco IMO for the last few years.

We spend 50~70 hotel nights annually away from home. We love to travel, and have learned to spend accordingly without denting our retirement account.


That meat isn’t past is “sell by” date which btw we’re learning is a very generous date. They just want to move the older. We’ve been doing it for decades and are far from dead :slight_smile:

Because we’re already retired, no we don’t put the money away. But, yeah, I think I’d move it from checking to savings.
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As far as being on the same page, I think it’s pretty easy to compromise. But yes, we are.

Another BIG savings is not having cocktails pre-dinner. Even when traveling we pack booze in our checked bag and have drinks before going out. That saves enormously.

To hopefully some who read this, are you aware that a million dollars is only going to generate about $40k/yr if you want to be relatively sure that you won’t run out???

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We travel a good bit also. We’ve been getting apartments for quite some time. I honestly don’t like to face to world without a cup of coffee first :slight_smile: Since I love to cook we’ll frequently have lunch out and cook dinner. Barring this current trip in the Greek isles. We’re heading today for our third island, Paros, and so far the kitchen has consisted of almost nothing and not a single cooking utensil. I brought a chef’s knife and microplane grater. Another time :slight_smile:


I think someone mentioned this but reduce the average number of times a week you eat out. Dare I say: take your lunch to work occasionally??? We pretty much ignore that part of a menu that has those $30 hunks of meat. We can cook it better at home for a fraction of the money. Speaking of cooking at home, I LOVE foie gras and recently bought a 2+# lobe of grade A for somewhere around $80. Divided it into fourths and froze three of them.


I’m so excited!!! Our little studio has TWO skillets, a pot large enough for pasta, a colander, juicer, THREE cutting boards, even a cheese slicer. Etc. Tonight will be Hazan’s pasta carbonara for which I need to buy nothing. So a free dinner. Leftover tomato, olive, caper and onion salad from last night’s dinner out.


Hi @catholiver. Hope you are enjoying your trip.

I’m not a flying fan, so other than a big trip every couple of years I alternate between Napa and Las Vegas- both easy driving from my place in Laguna.

For Vegas, we always pack a case of wine, beer and water, plus snacks. And I bring stemware, cocktail plates and napkins for in-room pre-dinner/show tippling.

We usually stay at the same hotel, so most of the staff know us. I’d much rather give the bellman $20 to haul all that up to the room than pay $7.50 for a Fiji water. Or $200 for a $50 bottle of wine. One thing I never skimp on is tipping. It makes me feel good and has paid off in too many ways to go into.

Plus, that means more $$$ for gambling, eating and shows.

We love to walk, so plan accordingly- no cabs, except the occasional off-strip spots like Raku. We leave our car with the valet the whole trip, cause most mornings start with mimosas in the room as well. :sunglasses:

For Napa, same thing although we get snacks up there at one of the great stores.

One of our favorite places to stay has free car service included with room rate at night, so no worry about drinking.

Not that these are unknown tips- but it works for us.


And I think those are all great ideas. I don’t know if I said this before but Bob was trustee for a little old lady who was spending way too much money. He told her that she can have anything she wants but not everything she wants.

I love getting tips from others. Thanks, kiddo.


One thing I left out, but for me living in southern CA- it takes forever to get anyplace. LA can take 2 hours, even on a weekend.

Such a luxury in Las Vegas to be in your room at 7:50 with an 8 dinner reservation, elevator down and eating at some of the best spots in the US.


We bring one of those picnic backpacks for our (domestic) road trips. Silverware, chopsticks, paper plates, napkins, wine opener, can opener, Ziplocks, etc… We do a lot of walking and snacking when we travel. Most evenings, a light snack and a bottle (couple) bottles of wine in the comfort of our hotel room is just right.


My kind of gal ( or guy)

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This sounds great - for travel or not.

I eat on the cheap at home. I’m cooking for one and don’t mind spartan, meatless, meals most days of the week. My goal is to stay about $2 per meal (though this last month I have been splurging with meals out and my wallet is feeling it!). I frequent Grocery Outlet and find scores, especially for breakfast. I purchase cereal and granola for usually $0.99-1.99. Individual greek yogurts, often organic, are around 2/$1.00. Frozen berries and half banana round it out. Lunch I make salads, grain (a rice cooker is quite handy) or soba bowls with frozen or fresh veggies and protein (edamame, tofu, or tempeh), or gussy up a can of soup. I love egg dishes for dinner, again with grains or polenta and veggies. Pasta and couscous dishes are another usual, often using a simple olive oil dressing with veggies and peas or chickpeas for protein. Having a variety of sauces and seasonings is a great way to perk up simple meals.


AND you’re helping the planet. Good combo, huh?

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We’re taking a four hour ferry ride tomorrow from a Greek island back to Athens. On the way over we had two cups of coffee for about $8. Tomorrow will be - all from our holiday fridge - egg salad, cheese, bread, olives, cookies. And two airline size bottles of leftover wine. (They really don’t seem to mind this at all.) I’m guessing somethings equivalent that we bought onboard would be $30-$50. And ours will be better :slight_smile:


Reason why ziplocs are on our travel check list.

Of course, if the store plastic bags are still good, we gladly go green by reusing them. Also saves a couple of drachmae.

We bring our own made at home sandwiches when we fly. A package of Costco charcuterie. A skinny baguette from Safeway or our local bahn mi shop. Good to go for our 10 ~ 14 hour flights. No more chicken, pasta, or mystery meat. On the rare occasion that we do ride up front, we gladly submit to the premium cabin’s hospitality. :slight_smile:


I have made this pan bagnat for flights. And no it doesn’t ‘stink.’ I use Ortiz tuna, Spanish tuna packed in Spanish olive oil. I’ve had flight attendants joke about buying it from me.

And definitely ziplocs. We’re heading home Tues. and I’ll still have some unused ones.

For those who cook on holiday(s), I take zipping bags of s&p, rpf’s, flour, sugar, etc. Don’t have to buy then. Tonight’s dinner was pork piccata’ish with linguini’ish and peas. Tasty and cheap Greek wine.


Regarding “instant” ramen. I’ve been embellishing packaged ramen since the only brand available was “Doll” ramen. No flavor or sauce packets, the flavor was incorporated into the noodle packets.

I’ve tried hard to find that same Doll style, but impossible. I’ve googled, and searched supermarket shelves in Asia to no avail. Its funny that the common name for instant noodle in Hong Kong/New Year is gon jai mein (doll noodle). Doll noodle has become the “Kleenex”, “Xerox”, of the noodle world.

Four hour ferry ride from Paros back to Athens. LOTS of leftovers: egg salad, sliced ham, olives, bread, butter, cheeses and red wine. A feast! We’ll have more of the same with the addition of some pork piccata’ish from last night’s dinner. TWO free meals.