Living on $4: Eating Out

Now that I am on week 10 of this challenge, I have learn several valuable lessons about “social eating” (which includes eating with friends, cooking for friends, and eating out).

  1. Don’t spend all your food money every week. By weaning myself off junk food (chips, pretzels, red licorice, etc), I have managed to cut a good $5-$7 dollars off my weekly food budget.
  2. Save that money un-spent budget money: take it out of your wallet, and put it in a place where you would not just see it and grab it. By doing so, you will realize that those little amounts (even $1 here an there) really start adding up.
  3. Treat yourself once a month. If you spend wisely, and don’t take yourself right up to the budget limit every week, you will save enough money every month to really treat yourself. You can buy a steak, or seafood, or even go out to eat (my preferred option).

Now you might wonder how cooking for friends, or eating with friends falls into this category. Simple, you can cook for friends even on a tiny budget, so long as they are not crazy picky. My friends know that when I invite them to dinner, they will be having lots of veggies with a base of either beans, rice, or cabbage… and there may or may not be any meat. But hey, it’s a free dinner for them, so they don’t mind.

On the other hand, if you have good friends, occasionally they will invite you over for dinner. In that case, be thankful and a good guest, and enjoy the food that doesn’t cost you a dime.

Another great option, especially if you are doing this challenge with friends, is do some version of “stone soup.” In my case, I’m planning a “build your own pizza” night. I’ll provide the dough and the sauce, and then my friends are responsible for bringing at least one topping (with enough to share with everyone else). These sorts of things are only limited by one’s imagination, and they end up expanding the food palette.


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