Saturday, December 17, 2005

Money-saving Tip: Take Sides

Not in a fight-- when you buy dinner!

Though I do try to buy groceries and cook for myself, sometimes I get home so late in the evenings that I just don't want to deal with it, so I order takeout. Sometimes it's the old standby Chinese, but that gets boring, and I actually have a lot of restaurants nearby that will deliver (or let me pick up) a wide variety of takeout food. In general, this is not a cheap way to eat, but it does cost less than actually eating in the restaurant, as I can consume my own cheap wine and don't tip the delivery guy as much as I would a waiter. And you can lower your costs even more by stretching out your meal with side orders.

Example: there is a little restaurant in Park Slope that looks like a dump but makes incredible pot roast. (Jack's, at 13th St. & 5th Ave, for any locals reading this. Help me keep them in business! And don't be put off by their weird-smelling garlic bread.)
The pot roast comes with yummy mashed potatoes. For me, anyway, the entree itself is just a bit more food than I want to eat, so I'd either end up overeating, or wasting food. But if I order an extra side order or two, of, say, wilted spinach or mashed yams, I have enough food to make two meals if I portion out half of everything and save it to heat up the next day. The pot roast is $12 and a side is $4, so it works out to $8-10 per meal, not counting tax and tip. That isn't that much more than if I made myself a good steak and a salad. And though pot roast probably isn't the healthiest choice to begin with, I can feel like I am eating a more reasonable portion size. A lot of restaurants these days give you so much food, it makes sense to cut it in half! I do afterall have to retain my girlish figure so I can fit into these swanky jeans I've been buying on EBay.

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