While practicing frugal habits, it's easy to become absorbed in a life of self-denial: “I will not buy this shirt. I will wait for this film to come to DVD. I will not eat at the steak house tonight.” Even so, there's room to treat yourself once in a while, especially if the treat is cheap!
One treat I allow myself is the Lunch Special.
I am a regular at Imperial Garden, a local Chinese restaurant. I like to eat lunch there once per week. Sometimes I stop on my way home from work on Friday (when I leave work at noon). Sometimes I walk up to the restaurant on my way to the library. Sometimes I invite friends to join me.
Imperial Garden offers a $4.50 lunch special. This $4.50 includes tea, hot-and-sour soup, two wontons, and a spring roll. It also includes rice (steamed or fried) and my choice of entree. The food is good, and the service the best of any restaurant I've ever seen. I cannot eat all the food. I always take home a box containing enough food for another meal later in the weekend. I spend $5.50 (after tip) once per week for two meals that I thoroughly enjoy. That's $2.75 per meal, which is a fine deal in my book.
I'm also fond of Cha!Cha!Cha!, a local Mexican restaurant that offers about ten different tacos at $1.50/each. Each taco order comes with two tortillas. For $3.00 ($4.50 if I'm hungry), I get a delicious, satisfying lunch.
I'm sure there are other Cheap Eats in the Portland area, but these are two of the best five-buck lunch special locations that I've found. I enjoy meals out at expensive restaurants just as much as the next person, but I get more satisfaction from meals that are one-tenth the cost.
Author: J.D. Roth
In 2006, J.D. founded Get Rich Slowly to document his quest to get out of debt. Over time, he learned how to save and how to invest. Today, he's managed to reach early retirement! He wants to help you master your money — and your life. No scams. No gimmicks. Just smart money advice to help you reach your goals.