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The Future of Your Dining Dollars

Given the fact that the economy looks uncertain ( at best ) for the next 6 to 12 months, how will this affect where and when you choose to dine? Will you simply stop going out to restaurants, until the economy improves? Will you continue to go out, but only to "neighborhood" places and forget high end dining for the time being? Cut back a bit across the board, eating out half as often as before? Continue your current pattern, eating out where and when you choose, and adopt the attitude; C'est la vie !

Since the economic downturn, one thing that I have noticed ( in the Boston area), there's been a spate of restaurants offering prixe fix lunch and dinner options. A great way for restaurants to control their costs and pass the saving on to their customers.

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  1. Other than the high gas prices the other economic issues(aka "economic downturn") really have not affected us(we have a locked low interest mortage, we are not selling our house in the near future, and we dont invest heavily in the stockmarket). We also luckily have good jobs in fact where I work we have had our 2 best months since 2006 the last couple of months. Now that gas has gone down to $2.37/gallon, and is still falling we have more money to spend(we fill our sut up 3 times a week for our commute, and those 3, $70 fillups were killing us.

    Since the gas prices are trending down that leave more money to spend on going out, so we will be doing just that, eating out more often.

    1 Reply
    1. re: swsidejim

      My husband and I are actually in a very similar position to yours. Low, fixed-rate mortgage, and not looking to move any time soon. I work for a family owned business that's doing fine and my husband works for a large, stable company. And the reduction in gas prices is definitely helping - my husband has a large truck that was also very expensive to fill. But I have to say that we have definitely reined in the spending (which was already pretty modest.) Mostly because we do have some unsecured debt to pay off and I want to pay it off as fast as possible just in case things get much worse in the economy and our incomes DO become affected. So dining out is something we have mostly relegated to special occasions for the time being.

    2. I live in central Illinois and there is little evidence of an "economic downturn" here. As a matter of fact, two new restaurants opened in our small town (pop. 6,000) within the last month. We're eating out as often as ever, usually to nearby locally-owned places. The prices have increased at some of the places, but we really don't let that bother us. It's important to us to have locally-owned restaurants with great food, so we're willing to support them, knowing that their costs have increased. We would cut back on other expenses if necessary rather than give up eating out at our favorite places.

      1. We have gone from eating out 1x per week to eating out 1x per 2 weeks. Always at neighborhood joints.

        1. I've cut back and am cooking from scratch even more. But I try to budget for some eating out too so I don't burn out on the cooking. Sometimes I just need a brief respite in a nice Thai restaurant, but when life gets really stressful I want alcohol and a trendy decor as well.

          1. We won't be eating out on a whim, as we tended to do before. Instead, we'll plan a visit to a favorite place maybe twice a month. We normally do not eat out in high-end places.

            There may be more take-away roast chickens, which around here are a great value.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Anonimo

              At Wegman's grocery store not too far from us, they sell roast chickens for $4.99. They're delicious and easily feed my family of three. Where they try to get you though, is the sides. I always make them myself. (For example, a small container of mashed potatos can be roughly $5.00.)

            2. There is talk on certain news stations of an 'economic downturn' but I don't know anyone who has a lesser income.

              Fuel prices went up and now they are going down. I don't know anyone who became broke because of paying more at the pump for a couple of months.

              I see some people changing some wasteful habits and I see plenty of continuing waste. There has never *not* been a line at drive through windows, especially the Starbucks drive through window I see daily.

              I personally go out to eat when I feel like it and I cook at home when I feel like it. I always shop for sale items weekly and stock up. I have always lived within and not above my means.

              Yes, there are increased prices at restaurants and in grocery stores. There are also sale items/specials and "value menus", as always. ( know Wendy's had a $1 menu in 2001 before 9-11. My dad was in the hospital and we were at Wendy's daily for about 2 months) I think people are paying more attention now.

              1. We have greatly cut back on eating out and ordering in. When we do eat out, we choose locally-owned and operated eateries that are likely to be more hard hit as the economy worsens. I'm also more careful to plan menus around items on sale at the local grocery and have begun to keep/clip coupons for items we use on a regular basis. Although we are financially stable and have a low fixed rate mortgage, we have seen our 401K and savings for my daughter's college tuition drop like a rock since September. We are cutting back in all areas in order to boost our savings as much as we possibly can in case things get worse before they get better.

                2 Replies
                1. re: smr33

                  Intellectually I know that we are fine. No mortgage, no debt, kids with educational funds, husband well paid professional. We've always saved like crazy and lived below our means....but I'm still worried about the stock market and what will happen if there is another terrorist attack. It is just feeling wrong to go out and spend a lot of money on a meal. My husband thinks I'm overboard on this, but right now I'm feeling like I'd rather save that money or donate it to a good cause. Last night instead of going out I asked if we could donate what we would have spent on dinner to a cause dear to us....we did....and it felt good. We watched a movie, had cocktails and jambalaya ,and it was a good night.

                  1. re: DaisyM

                    Wow, what a generous thing you did! And congratulations on living below your means. I am forever grateful to my parents for teaching me this, even though I certainly complained as a child (why can't I have an X like my friend Susie has?)

                    Though I probably eat out less than most Chowhounds here (cooking brings me much pleasure and I don't always have enough time to indulge in this favorite hobby), I have been more conscious of my food spending. I try to buy local and/or organic, and less processed, but I'm not breaking the bank for it. If I take more care with my food dollars, I can donate extra money to the local food bank.