Friday, March 27, 2009

Suffering several withdrawls

I have not been out to eat in a week! 

That's insane. Unthinkable. Just plain weird.

But that's my new life now that the gravy train has come to a screeching halt. My dining out budget in 2008 was something like $40K and I'm not exaggerating, even though I'm prone to gilding the lilly. I was out there all the time. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, happy hours, afternoon tea and sloppy late night snacks.

No more.

I'm happy to be back in my kitchen. I love to cook. Just absolutely hate to clean up. Thank goodness for my prep cook/dishwasher husband, but more importantly, thank heaven for his late mama who banged it into his head to never leave dirty dishes in the sink overnight.

Still, I miss the drama of the dining room and the thrill of being served something spectacular while sipping wine and wondering, what the hell could be better than this?

As this sucky recession wears on my last good nerve, I gotta ask, am I the only one cutting back? Please take the poll and offer me some suggestions on the city's best cheap eats, so I can get back out there! 


SteamyKitchen said...

Hey there,

I found you via Kim O'Donnel's newsletter!
Looking forward to getting to know you.


Fred Deaton said...


Yes, everyone is cutting back. look at any city and you will see restaurants suddenly closed, closing, or cutting hours.

In our household, we try budget things. When we eat out, we will split a meal (each with half an entree and each with one of the two sides.

The dollar menu is our best friend!

If we order to take home, we will split and save to make two meals. Which is very easy since portions in most places are ample. We did this yesterday with chinese lunch. 4.50 for lunch split it and had leftovers.

Take out is a great savings! subtract the tip and the drink and the cost out of your pocket is nearly cut in half!

I've noticed major restaurants are putting in lower priced fare. Outback, which is overpriced on the best of days has a reduced portion steak. There used to be lines there and now you can walk in without a wait.

Easy fix things. For example, I just bought eggs for 88 cents a dozen (well, it is easter = cheap eggs), so we may have breakfast for dinner one or two nights (with cereal for breakfast) in the week. We might substitute fried bologna (well, I live in the south) for sausage. Mix that egg salsa and cheese and you have omelet.

look for markdowns. For example I have stumbled on whole cooked rotissery chicken marked down to 1.99 late evenings and early mornings.

I guess I learned as a kid when my dad was laid off from work at the railroad (in the late 50's-early 60's) that rough patches in life happen, and it is up to us to be creative.

The Tennessean has a Ms Cheap Column that has great ideas. Her column is a great resource.

Dan Webster said...

"Gravy train"? "Gilding the lilly"? Oh, Leslie, you have such a way with words. :)

Seriously, I congratulate you on continuing to write great food commentary, even if you don't work anymore under the umbrella of old-school business models.

In his novel "Shoeless Joe" (which was the basis for the film "Field of Dreams"), the writer W.P. Kinsella wrote, "If you build it, he will come." Now we journalists just have to prove the corollary to be true as well: "If you write it, they will read."

You write, girl.