The Rules of Eating Cheaply

For his blog, Midtown Lunch, Zach Brooks dines for $10 or less. Here are his tips for pinching pennies while packing it in

Illustration by Nishant Choski

1. Ditch the Diet
It seems counterintuitive that losing weight would be more expensive than letting yourself go, but it is. Burgers are cheap. Fried chicken is cheap. That organic salad? Seventeen dollars.

2. Look Past the Surface
Love the ambience and friendly staff at your favorite restaurant?  Of course you do. Know who pays for that? You.

3. Follow Daily Deal Sites
Yes, there are 100 Groupon clones, and studies show they’re actually bad for businesses. But not for us cheap-os!

4. Eat at Buffets 
Serving yourself bulk food has obvious value, and if you do it right, you should be able to skip your next meal.

5. Brush Up on Your Math
Suggested combos aren’t always the best deals on the menu. Try to piece together a larger lunch for less money on your own.

6. Venture to Ethnic Neighborhoods
In the San Gabriel Valley, a $4 bánh mì is considered a rip-off.

7. Go to the Dark Side
White meat is for suckers. Dark meat tastes better and usually costs less.

8. Make Like a Boca Raton Retiree
Lots of places offer deals for eating at early or off times. One all-you-can-eat churrascaría I frequent gives a $3 discount before noon. Stuffing your face with  Brazilian BBQ at 11:45 a.m. is the kind of sacrifice you need to make to win the game.

9. Avoid Anything “Clean” and “Real”
These are code words for “expensive.”

10. Love Lunch
There’s a reason I started a lunch blog. The midday meal is always cheaper than dinner. Plus you have the rest of the day to recover from that low-cost gut buster.


101 Cheap eats