Frugal Nights Out….

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Since 4 Hats and Frugal was featured in a recent MSN/Donna Freeman article, I have been getting all kinds of questions through comments and e-mails. My favorite ones so far have been about how and why my family still eats out, even though I could easily make up meals all week with the stockpiles and recipes I have in my arsenal. Well, there’s a long answer and a short answer. The short answer: I get tired and am not a fem-bot. At least not yet. That’s a well-enough answer, but I do prefer the long one. I’ll explain how we eat out, why we eat out (in a bit more detail), and what our frugal rules are to determine how we spend our “dining out” money.

If I can make it at home, we don’t eat there. It’s that simple. If I know that I can make a mean mexican meal right at home with all of the fixings, and using stockpiled items, we don’t frequent any of those restaurants. We haven’t ordered pizza in over a year, and seldom order chinese. Burgers also used to be a luxury, until I had a mad craving for one recently. Now, Hubby has requested that from now on, we make them at home using my “recipe.” Where do we go? Well…

We go where the coupons are. It’s not a surprise that I am a big fan of coupons. Besides using them for food stuffs and household items, we take advantage of the local restaurant coupons found in the paper and in the entertainment book we purchase every year. I also take advantage of the sales that pop up during the year, by purchasing 25 dollar gift certificates for pennies. Since we follow the rule mentioned above, we have found ourselves trying all sorts of interesting cuisine. My favorite dining out destination? The Hibachi steakhouse! I tried once to make our favorite hibachi meals at home and they just did not compare. I knew that we would have to keep those types of restaurants on our list. We’ve also tried Mongolian BBQ, Thai cuisine, Indian cuisine and Brazilian steakhouse restaurants, all with wonderful coupons.

We only go once a month. Or, every two weeks, if I see that the budget will allow an extra night out. This helps us do two things: pick any place we have a craving(and coupon) for, no matter what the price may be, and gets us to appreciate our family time OUT of the house. EVERYONE gets excited when I announce that our dining-out day is coming up. I even think out cat gets excited, because he knows that all three of us humans will be out of the house for at least a few hours. I think he plans parties with Frugalsuz’s furry angels. Truthfully, I get the most excited, because…

I need a break. I do LOVE to cook and bake, and make snacks, and just stare at food all day, but I do need a break. Sometimes, it’s nice to have someone wait on you and make you exactly what you just ordered 15 minutes ago. No need to plan the meal 5 days in advance. My kitchen needs a break, as well. I get to clean it up around lunch time and it stays clean for longer than 4 hours. Energy is saved that day and pruny fingers are averted since I don’t have to wash dishes.

Sonny Boy needs a taste of the outside world. Since my boy stays home with me, he doesn’t get to converse with many people besides Mom, Dad, the mail carrier, the little boy next door, and the cashiers at the grocery and drug stores. When we take him out, we let him do all of the “adult” things: place his napkin in his lap, use chopsticks for his Japanese food, use a “grown up” fork and spoon(he gets his own “special” kiddie ones at home), and talk to whoever he wants. This is especially fun when we eat hibachi style and there are 5 other people he doesn’t know at the table. I found out that this is a frugal way to acclimate my son to learning manners, being polite, courteous and seeing other cultures through food. We can’t even count how many times we’ve been told how well-behaved he is when we are out in public. He now sees our nights out as very special “treats” and knows that the better he behaves, the longer we can stay. Plus, he instantly attains a bigger audience. He’s a big Ham…like his father.

Because we save, we can treat. This is something that was hard for us to realize, not because we were saving so much and knew we had so much to work on, but because we used to see dining out as a right, rather than a privilege. When we had the phone company, light company and even the landlord contacting us constantly about over-due bills, we’d run out to the local restaurants to blow off some steam. It was a young and stupid mistake, and once I sat down, poured a glass of wine and worked on our budget 2 and a half years ago, we haven’t made that mistake ever again. We even gave up eating out of any kind for quite a few months just to get back on track. It was rough, but necessary. Now that we have our saving well under control, our budget in place, and our ducks in a row, we “treat” ourselves to a night out. We’ve done such a good job that I don’t mind saving some extra pennies to do this. Others may disagree, but to each his own.

I hope I answered a few questions that have been asked. If there are any more, please feel free to leave them in the comments section, or e-mail me at I do love all of your questions, so keep ’em coming!

About Amiyrah

My name is Amiyrah and I'm an an African American fashion & lifestyle blogger based in Ohio.

Plan Your Year Now!


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  1. 4.16.09

    I adore Mongolian BBQ – especially their BOGO Free birthday Q’s. I’ve gotten my sister hooked on that place, too so we go when she’s in town (once or twice a year!)
    DH & I have date nights each week to remind of spending quality, no phone-call interrupting, TV distracting, rotating laundry time together.

  2. 4.16.09
    Frances said:

    Of COURSE we could cook at home every night, but we are frugal so we CAN splurge on going out if we want to!

  3. 4.16.09
    Precious said:

    Terrific post! We all need a break at least once a month if not more! I love eating out and getting waited on!

  4. 4.16.09

    Hi there,

    Please send me an email. I think you have a great blog!


  5. 4.16.09
    Danny said:

    I guess it would help if I included my email address…

  6. 4.17.09
    Amiyrah said:

    Thanks everyone for the comments! I almost forgot I scheduled this post for today. We really do love our nights out around here, and I’m so glad to see that other frugalites feel the same way and don’t feel guilty for going out every once in a while.


    thanks for the extra post lol, and thank you for visiting! I will be e-mailing you shortly…

  7. 4.17.09
    annathy03 said:

    Mmmmmmm, hibachi… you are making me hungry!

  8. 4.17.09

    DH and I LOVE Hibachi….we should go one night!

  9. 4.17.09
    SonyaAnn said:

    Congrats on being acknowledged by MSN. And I too go out once in a great while for a meal. I appreciate it so much more now that I have to cook almost every meal. Everyone deserves a break.

  10. 4.18.09
    nidena said:

    Your poor son. God forbid he find the woman he wants to marry and she doesn’t know how to cook. 🙂 Course, that just means you’ll have a “student” that you might be able to teach. Better yet, there is nothing more attractive than a man who can cook…so maybe she won’t need to. lol.
    As far as eating out being a “treat”…I remember when ordering Domino’s was a treat when we were growing up. It happened only once a month or so but, man, that pizza was the best! It was back when their 30 minutes guarantee was just that. You might even remember “Avoid the Noid”–the little guy who’s only quest in life was to make pizza cold before it got to your door. 🙂

  11. 4.19.09
    Amiyrah said:


    you crack me up! Yes, his bride will be very happy…once he learns to stop eating everything before it gets to the stove(my baby even loves to eat raw onion), I can teach him to really cook. His father is quite lost in the kitchen, so that forced me to learn quick a few months before we got married.

    I think this is why I love frugal nights out so much…over 4 years of cooking for a Paul Bunyan mid-westerner can tire you out!

    And yes, I remember “avoid the noid”….because of where we lived, we never got to order dominos or pizza hut. Too many “real” pizza places around when you live across the river from NYC :op

  12. 4.20.09
    Donna Freedman said:

    My niece’s kids love Mongolian barbecue because they get to pick out what goes in their meals — and then they love to watch the guy cook it and fling it off the grill into their bowls. How does he DO that? If I tried, the food would go everywhere BUT in the bowl.
    Yep, I like watching them throw my dinner off the grill, too. 🙂
    The point is that if you want to go out to eat, and you can afford it, then do it. It’s your money. You can spend it all on Snickers bars and dancing boys if you want to — but please do it intentionally, not just because you saw a commercial on television and the chicken looked good.
    I eat most of my meals at home, and when I *do* go out, it feels like luxury. I love it when other people cook for me.
    My feeling is that any food you do not have to cook or clean up after is, by definition, GOOD FOOD!