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Have gas prices effected your habits?

I recently checked out a hamburger place in Milwaukee that has been touted as one of the best in the midwest. I would have checked it out a long time ago, but it is across town (that means something even in Milwaukee), and didnt want to make the trip just to check out a hamburger. Saturday, I found I had some other things to do in the area, so I finally went, and indeed, it was one superb burger.

But I find that I have been doing this a lot recently, and I am wondering if anyone else has had their chow-habits changed by gas prices. (Back in the distant days of the Clinton administration and gas well under $2.00 a gallon, I would have driven to Chicago just to eat at Carson's, and then turn around & come home.) Are you combining trips to restaurants, markets, or bakeries that are off your beaten path with other errands in the area? Are you foregoing them if that would be the sole reason for your trip?

At the same time, are you exploring the chow resources in your own neighborhoods for places that you might have otherwise ignored?

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  1. We live in the burbs and definitely don't drive downtown as much for dinner. If we don't just meet there right after work, we don't go downtown and gas is the main reason (hassle and time being the others, but those were always there). We have sought out more local places and as soon as it gets even close to a normal temperature plan to walk to local places as often as possible instead of driving.

    1. We have changed slightly. As a family that spends over $600 month on gas for our SUV we have made some changes as gas has gone over $3.00 per gallon again.

      During the week we would typically eat out, or get carry-out at least twice during the week, but now we only do carry-out once a week, and cook meals at home. We are also cooking more dinners at home on the weekends.

      We live 70 miles from Chicago, and we still make a twice monthly trip into the city just to eat on the weekends: 2 weekends ago we hit 3 different places in Chicago for lunch: Smoque for some bbq, Semiramis for some middle eastern food, and Sun Wah BBQ for some chinese bbq's pork, and duck. This weekend is my birthday dinner @ Joe's Seafood, Prime Steaks, and Stone Crab. Trips like these will not change.

      1. I am in a strange situation these days, and so I am using the car less than I used to. This is a welcome change given the cost of gas. But we had already been trying to reduce our use of the car, not because of the cost so much as an attempt to reduce our carbon footprint a bit. We aren't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but we're trying to make better choices. But I must admit we still use the car to get to our sports games, and for the occasional food quest when we get cabin fever (we have had a lot of snow!!!). So for example, I went on a zeppole hunt this weekend, using the car.

        Usually we try to combine quests with other errands. And yes, we are exploring our neighbourhood on foot. We are lucky that our neighbourhood is full of great food finds, and there is a lot of variety.

        As soon as the *^#*)*@ snow goes away, we are looking forward to doing bike trips all over the city on our chow quests! Best of both worlds, exercise and good food. But that seems a long ways away. We are nearing record levels of snow, and we just spent 5 hours yesterday clearing our roof lest the weight of the snow causes the roof to cave in. Sigh. Hence the need for things like the zeppole run.

          1. We've always tried to walk as much as possible and are lucky to live near lots of good small markets, so we almost never drive to the store. We've been making even more of an effort lately, because of gas prices, and once tried to walk to Target. That involved walking under a freeway overpass, and along a frontage road with no sidewalk, over train tracks, past a peeing man and a recycling facility, and across the huge parking lot to the store itself. Our conclusion was that walking to Target must be unAmerican, because it is so difficult.

            1. Gas prices have definitely affected my grocery shopping habits. Instead of making weekly trips to the supermarket and specialty food stores I try to just wait it out to make bi-weekly trips. So even if I'm out of say, orange juice...I live without it until my next market run.

              One good thing about combining trips is that it helps clean out the pantry.

              Ah...I miss those $1.85 a gallon days....

              1. Phoenix is a big city and we live in the southern suburbs. Even before gas prices started getting this high we weren't driving far just to eat. We've both spent too much of our lives previously sitting in too much traffic so when we moved here we pledged that wouldn't happen. Typically if we're just goign to eat we stick close to home unless some special occasion takes us somewhere special.

                that said, if life DOES take us to another part of town we always take advantage of that and find somewhere that we've either always wanted to try or revisit a favorite in the neighborhood and plan the trip around a meal. Unfortunately with the price of gas we're less apt to take these trips around town than we used to though.

                So no, recent changes in price didn't change our habits but have reinforced what we're already doing.

                1. Not at all, but I'm a single person and don't really have a food budget or have a hard time justifying a new place or going to my favorite places. Fortunately, the boyfriend agrees and we venture out, often.

                  1. We live in Columbus, Ohio where you must have a car and public transportation sucks. Several of my favorite specialty markets are a good 30-45 min drive from the house. We try to combine errands so we can justify going to a particular area of town if we have several stops to make. What will make me very sad is that spring is approaching and we love to go for drives into the countryside on the weekends and combine sightseeing or shopping with eating. Ohio has lots of great Amish family style restos, interesting little places in Hocking Hills, Pine Club or Clifton Mill near Dayton, Jungle Jim's outside Cincy, etc. and at $4/gal, don't know that we will be doing much daytripping.

                    1. My husband and I have definitely changed our habits. Bridges, tunnels, hills...we cook in much more frequently and do our major shopping only on weekends now- I used to stop at the store almost every day. Also, now we only go to the specialty shops every 2-3 weeks. My parents used to drive down to Chicago for dinners for the evening (about 3-4h away) and they have stopped doing that. Even if you're not on a tight budget, gas prices make you think twice. It costs my parents over $150 to fill up their Suburban, talk about sticker shock! We no longer will drive an hour away just to try a new restaurant. We're also trying to be more environmentally friendly, minimizing driving and using canvas bags at the market.

                      1. Gas is a bit cheaper here than most cities, but we still pretty much stick to our side of town. The only thing that has changed is no road trips out of Houston for beef jerky! $50+ bucks to fill my tank and then $25+per pound of jerky - nah!

                        1. I live in Manhattan and do not own a car.

                          So... no. :-)

                          1 Reply
                          1. I've actually started to eat out a bit more.
                            Twice a week, I usually have about 2 hours between clients near my lunch time (My days begin at 5:30am so my lunch is usually during the end of peak traffic time around 8am-10am)
                            Untill last month, I used to go home and make a little snack or re-heat something. after doing some math, I realized that I'm better off just packing a lunch and staying put or I'll go grab something nearby and relax and read vs. driving home.
                            Home is only 8 miles away, but in LA, that usually takes about 30 minutes during trafic hours vs a max 11 minutes when there is no traffic.

                            1. In years past, we thought nothing of driving as much as an hour or so to get to a restaurant we really like. Not any more, though. We're patronizing our favorites and new places in our own town much more. That's probably a good thing overall.

                              1. Yes! Yes! Yes! Here in NorCal I paid $3.89 a gallon to fill up my SUV and when the pump shut off automatically, $75 only gave me three quarters of a tank. It made me lose my appetitie and I promptly went home. We now stick close to home and it has actually worked in our favor as we have tried places we might not have normally tried and they have turned out to be gems. We have also discovered some great cheap eats which helps offset the gas prices!

                                1. Buying a prius has certainly made a massive difference in our household. All the money saved on gas can now freely be spent on food. Ah, gas mileage....

                                  1. Not I, my monthly gas prices are $0.00

                                    1. I live just outiside DC and I have noticed a huge decline on my driving! I used to mindlessly get in the car 2-3 times on the weekends for specialized food runs. Now I try to combine them/get more of what I need in one place.

                                      As QSheba points out- the whole "gas prices" thing has also made me more committed to the local food scene and helped me be a little more green! Now Sundays is Dupont Farmers Market all the way, and this week two others will open up in the city which I can get to on my way home. This saves me yet another trip to the store!

                                      I also eat closer to home which has the added benefit of supporting the restaurants and small business owners in the area, without whom, living here would not be nearly as cool!