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Jan 11, 2007 03:09 AM

How Did You "Deal" With Being Poor (and Young) Before You Could Afford to Dine Out (or eat well dining in)?

I remember my first year living in Manhattan and my friends and I could barely pay our rent (or share thereof), utilities, etc. We definitely couldn't eat out dinner--we could hardly feed ourselves. Two strategies we used:

1-A rum and OJ ordered (and nursed for hours)at the nearby bar afforded us all the chicken wings we could eat.

2-We would visit each other's apt toting a can of soup and make believe we were eating out--technically, visitors were eating "out". We would compare Progresso soup varieties as the big thrill of the night.

What were your "survival" techniques?

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  1. 2.99 Chicken strips meal @ KFC everyday of the week.

    1. Other than cooking in alot and ordering from a place called Sotto Cinque - pasta under $5.........

      My dad gave me a credit card called Transmedia that could be used at participating restaurants. I was allowed to use it once a month. Sometimes it was used more than that, but he never really gave me a hard time.

      Also, had friends who worked in the Steve Hansen empire before it got huge. I used to get lots of freebies at Park Avalon, Blue Water and Ruby Foos.

      Thankfully, I can afford to splurge now!!! NOBU again this Saturday!!!

      4 Replies
      1. re: jenniebnyc

        Ah, I remember Sotto Cinque. That was our Sat nite splurge. I heard it is still there--wonder what's under $5 now.

        1. re: eve

          Sotto Cinque, at least on 29th and 3rd, is closed and has been for a few years. It is now the new location for Noodles on 28.

          1. re: eve

            Sotto Cinque is alive and well on East 86th Street.

            1. re: Deenso

              that's the one. I lived on 85th and 1st. We had to walk a whole block to get there--see, it really was going out for dinner. And no transportation cost.

        2. Our weekly grocery budget (including TP and cat food) was $20--granted this was 15 years ago--I had fun and got real good at bargain hunting. One of the few takeout meals was the $5 medium pepperonis from Pizza Hut; I seem to recall there was a limit where you could only get one per day.

          1. I'm still in grad school, so I'm living on the cheap and still having fun. I often make a big lentil soup, or bean soup, invite people over (BYO) and have an informal dinner party.
            Surprisingly, the dollar store (yes THAT dollar store) can offer great deals in produce that pay off big.
            Other standbys are stuff with celery (can buy in bulk, it's cheap and doesn't go bad) and tons of seasoning with Adobo (tons of spices in one cheap package - salt and pepper included.)
            Viva la cheap life...

            1. Creative dinner parties on the cheap at home.

              We made great use of Costco - we would all chip in to buy enough veggies and beer for 12, and pasta and bottled sauce carried us the rest of the way. Individually, none of us could get through the big bags of cheap fruits and veggies from Costco before they went bad, but together, we could all eat relatively well on the cheap.

              There were also a variety of very cheap Thai places around. We would usually splurge on $5.35 pad thai tofu and $6.05 penang curry on Friday nights.