My Frugal Life: I Love Eating Out!

I love eating out. NOW WAIT! I can feel all you extreme savers and frugalites throwing stones at me. Please, please, please restrain and let me explain.


I love eating out but I don't like restaurant prices so I am slowly learning how to cook restaurant meals at home. Oh, I already know how to make hamburgers and French fries, chili dogs and pizza from scratch. No, I am learning how to make other items like shrimp scampi and Vindaloo Gosht (an Indian lamb and potatoes dish).

Whenever I get a taste for a certain type of food, I conduct an online search for restaurants in my area which serve that type of food. I then go to the individual restaurant's website and peruse the menu and pick a wonderful meal. I conduct a recipe search of the meal items and off to my local grocery store for the ingredients. I love cooking with all the different spices. The recipes are often challenging to me, but I love a challenge. I love the fact that I can make the menu items at a quarter of the cost I would pay in a restaurant. I have successfully made Italian, Mexican, and Indian dishes.


The only type of food which I have not been able to get the knack of making is Chinese food and I LOVE Chinese food. I can't give it up but I have found a way to decrease the cost. I purchase one order of Chicken fried rice to go at my favorite Chinese restaurant for $6.98. I take it home and promptly add one cup of whole kernel frozen corn, one tablespoon of fresh onion and one cup of shredded fresh carrots from my freezer stash. By adding these ingredients, I can not only increase the nutritional value but I also get three servings out of one order. I only order Chinese food once every couple of months, so I count it as a frugal splurge.

This is how I continue to nurture my love of eating out (restaurant food) while remaining thrifty. Good luck to all of you and keep sending in your frugal life entries. I love reading about your lives.


By Lovejoy from Dallas, TX

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November 20, 20110 found this helpful

If I could afford to eat anything out, but fast food, it would be to keep me out of the kitchen. For some reason I seem to be allergic to my kitchen. Part of the problem is that when I stand for more than a couple minutes, I develop a lot of pain.

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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 519 Posts
November 21, 20110 found this helpful

Yes, restaurants can be great places to learn about different cuisines, & then take those ideas home. I don't think simple Chinese cooking is too difficult, just get soy sauce & stir fry!


(& other Chinese sauces, like Oyster sauce, are available at my 99Cent Store, plus water chestnuts & bean sprouts, so go to it!)

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August 5, 20130 found this helpful

:-) I am the same way. Love your post!

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August 5, 20130 found this helpful

What issues are you having replicating Chinese food? I too love to replicate my favorite dishes, especially since there are very, very few culturally diverse eateries in my area, in fact few casual dining venues either.


Whenever I find something I adore on a rare excursion, I research and figure it out so I can have it on demand and cheaper. Send me a message here with your issues with Chinese food, I may be able to help.

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August 5, 20130 found this helpful

Good for you, Lovejoy, to love eating out but be enthusiastic about recreating restaurant dishes at home! I also love eating out, but when I say "out," I mean "out." I no longer want the hassle of shopping, cooking, and cleaning up afterwards.

In my case, it's not that I'm that interested in the variety of dishes available in restaurants, it's that after 40+ years of cooking, I'm over it! It was never something I really enjoyed, so when I retired from the working world I told my husband that I also retired from cooking!


I still make the big family dinners on holidays and birthdays, and once in a blue moon I get the urge and make a nice dinner at home. But other than that - no thanks. My husband never cooked and never wanted to learn, so it's not as if he would be taking over the job.

Breakfast at home can be toast, cereal, fruit, things like that. I do cook eggs now and then because they're easy and I love them! Lunch is sandwiches, soup, salad, or any of the breakfast foods.

Our restaurant meal is dinner, and yes, it can definitely be costlier than cooking at home. So we typically eat at family type, moderately priced restaurants and save the nicer places for special occasions like an anniversary.

It's not that difficult to avoid unhealthy food when eating out - even if you prefer to stick to a nice salad you usually have many choices. Sometimes my husband brings home our dinners as take-out, and we plate them and it's as if someone cooked us dinner in the comfort of home.

When you factor in the cost of trips to buy groceries, and the value of your time and effort to cook at home, you realize that the cost of eating out is not that much more than a decent meal at home. We have also factored dining out once a day into our retirement budget. We live quite modestly - we've never felt the need for big wardrobes or fancy cars, and we don't have expensive hobbies like traveling. So I consider it very reasonable to have this dining out "hobby."

Of course, if someone enjoys cooking, especially if it is enjoyed as a family activity, that's ideal! As I said, I cooked for my family and continued to cook long after they grew up and moved on. I wouldn't recommend this lifestyle if you have a family. But if you are alone, or there are only two of you, and you just want to "retire" from cooking, it's not an unreasonable decision!

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August 12, 20130 found this helpful

Nice to read that I am not the only one doing this.

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April 7, 20140 found this helpful

Don't forget The website author loves to cook the foods she eats out, and has been knocking off her favorite restaurant recipes for at least 10 years. And she has a bunch of Chinese food recipes.

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