Frugalista

Two flexible recipes for cutting back on eating out

Last weekend, my husband and I went out for a cider at our favorite local place. We do this every once in a while because they have a fun game space in the back and, well duh, the cider is pretty tasty. While there, I mentioned that we had a pizza reward that was getting ready to expire from a place that we used to order delivery from quite frequently. My husband, who is getting to be quite the proficient cheap-o, excitedly exclaimed that if we picked up the order it would be entirely free. 

We decided to really live on the edge that night and ordered the pizza after we made a quick stop at Lowe's, which we left empty handed, forgetting the single item we stopped in for in our pizza-induced excitement. A fluffy crusted pizza with alfredo sauce, cheese, mushrooms, and onions awaited us. If you're looking for some food porn at this point in time, well friend, you're going to be out of luck. We inhaled that pizza in like five second flat.

If only the stomach pain had lasted that long. 


We've drastically cut back on eating out in the last few months. It's been partly a budget saver and partly because our tastes have changed. We've realized a lot of times that we can make our favorite takeout foods at home at a fraction of the cost and less time than we might expect.

Broccoli and cheddar soup is so easy to make along with easy, peasy (and freezy-ble) focaccia bread. This dinner takes about 20 minutes of active work and is much better and cheaper than Panera.

Broccoli and cheddar soup is so easy to make along with easy, peasy (and freezy-ble) focaccia bread. This dinner takes about 20 minutes of active work and is much better and cheaper than Panera.

Ahhhhh, sweet salad rolls with addicting peanut butter dipping sauce. The bane of my existence and wallet. These are shockingly easy to make and cheap, too!

Ahhhhh, sweet salad rolls with addicting peanut butter dipping sauce. The bane of my existence and wallet. These are shockingly easy to make and cheap, too!

This is not terribly pretty, but it tastes good! I'm getting better at my sushi rolling. We had family over and for about $20 of ingredients, we had enough sushi to feed everyone. Much less than any cheap sushi joint.

This is not terribly pretty, but it tastes good! I'm getting better at my sushi rolling. We had family over and for about $20 of ingredients, we had enough sushi to feed everyone. Much less than any cheap sushi joint.

While these dishes are surprisingly easy (to me) to make, you may not have the confidence or cooking skills yet to break these out. So what can you do if you're not a Julia Child wannabe, but you wanna stop breaking the bank each month with your eating out habit? Here are two easy ways to nourish your bod while boosting your skills.


1. Fancy grilled cheese and tomato soup

Step away from the American fake cheese slices! Get thee to a local Trader Joe's or Aldi's if you're lucky enough to have one close by and find a new cheese to experiment with. Provolone is a good gateway into the cheese world if you're not feeling very experimental. Gouda is very good-a. While you're at it, you can experiment with spreads if you're feeling so crazy. You could do the TJ's bruschetta sauce inside. Once you've tried a new cheese or two, you can play around with your soup options. Campbell's tomato soup is always a classic, but maybe a little tomato basil might be a good option. Go wild!

Step away from the American fake cheese slices! Get thee to a local Trader Joe's or Aldi's if you're lucky enough to have one close by and find a new cheese to experiment with. Provolone is a good gateway into the cheese world if you're not feeling very experimental. Gouda is very good-a. While you're at it, you can experiment with spreads if you're feeling so crazy. You could do the TJ's bruschetta sauce inside. Once you've tried a new cheese or two, you can play around with your soup options. Campbell's tomato soup is always a classic, but maybe a little tomato basil might be a good option. Go wild!

2. Take the chill outta frozen pizzas

We have a mild obsession around here with Costco frozen pizza. Now, you're welcome to just stick that baby in the oven and call it a day. At $2.50 apiece, it's much cheaper than ordering out any day but any old frozen pizza will do. But if you're feeling fancy, you should definitely start throwing some toppings on. Have some random cheese in your fridge? Go for it! Have some peppers getting ready to cross over? You go on with your bad self. I'm giving you the freedom and permission to top your pizza any way you damn please.

We have a mild obsession around here with Costco frozen pizza. Now, you're welcome to just stick that baby in the oven and call it a day. At $2.50 apiece, it's much cheaper than ordering out any day but any old frozen pizza will do. But if you're feeling fancy, you should definitely start throwing some toppings on. Have some random cheese in your fridge? Go for it! Have some peppers getting ready to cross over? You go on with your bad self. I'm giving you the freedom and permission to top your pizza any way you damn please.

Hawaii on a budget

Our trip to Hawaii was mostly lovely, but one thing that certainly wasn't: prices. While there may be cheaper places in paradise, our hotel was located in Waikiki which certainly wasn't budget friendly.

I did my best to stay in the moment, so I didn't take too many photos, but here are a few highlights from our trip along with some money saving tips!

How to get there

While the Pacific Northwest is a beautiful place to live, it can be pretty rough here weather-wise from about November to February thanks to the gray, misty weather. I had been fantasizing about a Hawaii trip to break up the gloomy gray, and I jumped when I received an alert from Scott's Cheap Flights for discounted winter flights. We ended up getting direct flights for two for about $900, which seemed to be a savings of at least $200-$400. We flew in and out on Wednesdays, which also netted some savings.

What to eat

We experienced major sticker shock on our first morning in Hawaii when we went out to eat for breakfast. We spent nearly $40 on breakfast at Waffle House even though we split an entree! After that, we visited Target to pick up groceries so that we could eat meals in our room. I don't know about you, but I would rather have hummus for lunch so that I can have a nice dinner instead of having to eat cheaply all day long. We only had a refrigerator in our room, but you could certainly save even more if you stay at a place with a kitchenette.

How to get around town

Oahu has a really great public bus system creatively named The Bus that we used to get around town during a good portion of our trip. An unlimited daily pass will only set you back $5.50, and it will take you to the zoo, Diamond Head, Iolani Palace, and just about anywhere else that you might want to go. Drivers were friendly, the buses were clean, and they seemed to be fairly timely so overall it's a very tourist-friendly way to get from A to B. We rented a discounted car at the end of our trip to see Pearl Harbor, Manoa Falls, and the Byodo-In Temple. While it was well worth the rental, if I had it to do over again I would flip the car portion of our trip to the beginning. We were a little worn out by the end of our trip, and I think we would have gotten more out of the car portion if we were still fresh.