Frugal Living: you can eat well, and even splurge sometimes

United States
May 23, 2022 12:25am CST
Most people who follow my Frugal Living cooking discussions know that I try to keep things down to a very affordable cost, using as much as I possibly can to make that money stretch. I try to buy most everything on sale, and that affords me the opportunity to be able to eat better Foods and splurge every once in awhile. I try to eat fresh foods, whenever possible. I'm learning how to put different ingredients together in a way that I've seen or tasted it in the past, and then come up with some of my own creations. Rarely do I use recipes, per say, but I come up with things based on what I have available to me and what I intuitively can create. I generally try to keep the cost of most of my meals below $2.00 per serving. Many times, I can do that for under $1 per serving. It all depends on what I have available, and how careful I am about using things up so there is no waste. Sometimes, however, I want to eat a special meal. I still try to do so, using fresh foods, and I'll splurge on some main item that may be more expensive than what I typically would use. Whenever possible, I try to buy that also on sale. I found swordfish steak on sale for $8.99 a pound and I bought 1.33 lb of it. That was enough for four reasonable 5 oz servings. I also bought a sweet red bell pepper for $0.50, and a mango for $0.50.. I ended up making this delicious meal of grilled swordfish steak with a mango cilantro salsa, served with a side salad and lightly grilled broccolini. Each serving (as seen in the photograph) have a cost of approximately $5 per serving, based on the sale prices (not clearance reduced, but simply being on sale) that I found. It has been a long time since I've been out to a restaurant to get this type of meal, but from what I can gather from the bit of research that I did online, I am fairly sure that this meal would likely be priced about $24 to $26 in my area. So, although I paid approximately $5 for this meal for one person, it is still quite the bargain on the road to frugal living. With our dollar not going as far as it once did, it's easy to think we cannot eat well or that we have to resort to not eating fresh foods. However, when you take advantage of special sales, and you make sure that you watch your portion sizes, you can eat very well and for a lot less money than it would cost if you were going out. In your area, what would a dinner like is shown in the photograph cost you at a restaurant? Photo is my own
21 people like this
21 responses
@Torunn (8636)
• Norway
23 May
I had Indian with a friend some weeks ago, we payed about 450 NOK each. Right now I think you can divide it by ten to get both euros and dollars, That was for mango lassi, nan bread and a main course, no drinks. I would guess a decent fish meal to be about 350 NOK, maybe more, depending on the fish. Prices for fuel for the fishing boats are higher than usual, so prices there are going up too. I went to a confirmation party yesterday, too much cake. Not that I ate too much cake, I think I ate just about the right amount of cake, but so many cakes I couldn't taste them all :-( ;-)
5 people like this
@TheHorse (155312)
• Walnut Creek, California
24 May
That sounds expensive to me. If I get a single Thai or Indian dish, it's generally under $20.
2 people like this
@Torunn (8636)
• Norway
24 May
@TheHorse If I get something under 200NOK it's probably a burger or something that can come in small portions, sushi maybe. I think the prices still aren't stupidly high considering normal wages, so eating out in other countries is quite nice and cheap.
1 person likes this
• United States
24 May
@Torunn that is very expensive. I don't think I could afford to live there.
@arunima25 (74107)
• Bangalore, India
23 May
Your frugal meals are so inspiring. And look at those tempting colours on the plate.. I just love a colourful meal. I would grab it for a little higher price too.
3 people like this
• United States
24 May
Thanks for the kind words. :-)
1 person likes this
@arunima25 (74107)
• Bangalore, India
26 May
@TheSojourner Welcome
1 person likes this
@MarieCoyle (5482)
23 May
In my area, it would definitely depend on the restaurant. We have really fancy, sort of fancy, casual, really casual, and then the rest I class as whatevers, in a way. I would guess about $22-$26 for something like you fixed. It also seems like they really get you in costs if you add a side, and basic things to drink are priced way too high--like $3-$4 for ice tea or regular coffee. Water is still free, LOL. Sometimes, I go out with my daughter and we share an entree. The portions are so large we can't really finish them and always have to take them home, so often we just divide one thing. Then we don't have to haul it around. As for portion sizes, I say all the time that many restaurants give us way, way too much food, and charge accordingly. Wish they had mini-meals. Some restaurants will sell you a child's meal, but they are often rather limited and in my opinion, not really healthy, like hot dogs, fries, fried chicken nuggets or strips, mac and cheese. So it works better for us when we can settle on something to share. It looks so good. Broccoli and asparagus are 2 of my favorite vegetables.
3 people like this
• United States
24 May
Broccoli and broccolini are two of my faves, and fresh asparagus.
1 person likes this
@sharon6345 (315907)
• United States
23 May
I would not eat what is in that plate. I know about frugal living because that is the only way I can eat. But I can't eat anything that looks like it was pulled up in someone's backyard. I am truly not being insulting because it might just make the belly so satisfied. Give me some good old potatoes a side of meat and basic corn or sweet peas I am good to go. I think frugal to everyone means something different. Because what you can make happen with money most would not. I have seen so many frugal meals but they look edible. But I want you to know I love your budgeting and I also love your tossing things together to make a meal. There are no cookbooks here. I believe it takes combing tastes and flavors to make a hearty meal. I am not fond of fish either though I like whitings and red snapper. Your food looks like a dish someone would pay a lot for as you said. When they get home they will be in the fridge looking for more to eat. You do very well frugally, I don't think that is frugal though. I really wish I could see what others here cooked and called frugally. it would be really awesome. I hope you know I mean well and no harm.
3 people like this
@LadyDuck (392837)
• Switzerland
23 May
I loved grilled swordfish, I used to go to Italy to buy, as here is not available. Usually eating out costs 5 to 6 times more than making at home. I think that this would cost $ 30 at a restaurant.
2 people like this
• United States
23 May
Thank you. I would have put the salad in a side bowl, but I didn't feel like having to wash another dish! LOL
3 people like this
@LadyDuck (392837)
• Switzerland
23 May
@TheSojourner - I often try to avoid to have more dishes to wash. My husband always wants the salad after the meal, I like it with my meal, so mine gets in my dish.
2 people like this
• United States
23 May
@LadyDuck in the last few years of her life, my mother used paper plates and paper bowls. She didn't have dishes anymore. Except for coffee mugs! LOL
1 person likes this
@FourWalls (43820)
• United States
23 May
I would say the “trendy restaurants” in “NuLu” (an older part of town they’re rebranding as trendy) would charge about twenty bucks for it. Restaurants I go to would be more in the $10 range.
2 people like this
• United States
24 May
That seems quite inexpensive. Most trendy/upscale restaurants would be more than double what you pay.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (155312)
• Walnut Creek, California
24 May
In the Bay Area, I shudder to think. I'm about to go grocery shopping, and will pick up some fresh veggies to add to my Top Ramen.
1 person likes this
• United States
24 May
I'm not a big top ramen fan, but I will buy the Asian noodles and just boil them. They don't have all of the fat in them and I can use my own broth that I want to make and come up with something delicious!
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (155312)
• Walnut Creek, California
24 May
@TheSojourner I also bought some bullion cubes, or buillon cubes, if you prefer. I may try various combinations. I bought some leeks and sorrano peppers, and have some onion here. Heck, I could toss an egg in there and have egg foo something soup.
1 person likes this
• United States
24 May
@TheHorse I hope your Egg Foo-food Soup turned out good!
@noni1959 (8373)
• United States
23 May
I'm not sure. I live very rural and the more expensive places are in Portland. I'm not big on swordfish but a good fish meal would probably be about $25. Lobster $45 up in the city not too far.
1 person likes this
• United States
24 May
I haven't had lobster in forever.
1 person likes this
@noni1959 (8373)
• United States
30 May
@TheSojourner Me either and probably won't again.
1 person likes this
• United States
30 May
@noni1959 truth be told, I prefer crab and shrimp to the lobster
1 person likes this
@LeaPea2417 (33760)
• Toccoa, Georgia
23 May
I like broccoli. It is weird, when I was a kid I hated it but started liking broccoli as I got older.
1 person likes this
• United States
23 May
It's very good for us.
1 person likes this
@LeaPea2417 (33760)
• Toccoa, Georgia
24 May
1 person likes this
@GardenGerty (145000)
• United States
24 May
I was going to suggest that price range, $26 came to my mind before I read past the $5 per serving paragraph. It does look lovely and special.
1 person likes this
• United States
24 May
@much2say (54736)
• Los Angeles, California
23 May
Oh that looks so wonderful and healthy!! We haven't gone to a restaurant in more than a couple years now . . . but I was thinking $25-$30+ easy. However I think there would less of the sides at a restaurant. Good thing at home you can add more of the good extras!
1 person likes this
@LindaOHio (95343)
• United States
23 May
We don't go to any restaurants that would serve swordfish; but I can tell you that my husband spent over $30 (or was it $40?) for filet, bacon wrapped scallops and a lobster tail.
1 person likes this
@popciclecold (24704)
• United States
23 May
I don't know, I can't recall ever seeing swordfish, at all it looks real good Prices are up so maybe about $40.00. Good job.
1 person likes this
@aninditasen (5776)
• Raurkela, India
23 May
I have stopped going to restaurants for years since the pandemic. Yes, I do order through zomato that are quite costly when we think of them making them at home.
1 person likes this
@wolfgirl569 (55750)
• Marion, Ohio
23 May
I have no idea what it would cost but I know it would be a lot more than 5 dollars
1 person likes this
@lazydaizee (3854)
• United Kingdom
23 May
Sometimes it is possible to eat healthily on a low budget. That dinner would cost a fortune at a local restaurant because restaurant food can be very overpriced.
1 person likes this
@Morleyhunt (21762)
• Canada
23 May
Saturday was a busy day. It was almost 7PM…no dinner preparation had been made. I ordered pizza for 9 hungry people (teenagers included). My granddaughter told me it was less expensive to order pizza then to prepare it yourself. We had an instant economics, budgeting lesson.
1 person likes this
@allen0187 (56040)
• Philippines
23 May
The grilled swordfish and mango cilantro salsa both look delicious. No idea how much a meal like that will cost me but for sure, it will be more than the usual amount that I pay for my meals.
1 person likes this
• Defuniak Springs, Florida
23 May
We spent maybe $0.50 on dinner last night. Leftovers.
1 person likes this
@jstory07 (120339)
• Roseburg, Oregon
23 May
I picked up two roasts really cheap at Safeway and cut them in half so I have enough for four meals. One roasts when cut in half were about $2.50 each and I am hopping to have some potatoes from our garden by than and radishes I know the tomatoes will not be ready until July.
1 person likes this