Here’s How to be a Frugal Foodie

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – Here’s a few tips on how to be a “frugal foodie.” In other words, how to make fine dining part of your vacation without totally disregarding your travel budget.

A trick I always recommend to anyone visiting me here in New Orleans, but it works for other cities too: if you have your heart set on a high end restaurant, see if you can reserve a table for lunch instead of dinner. You’ll find the same excellent service, with a lower price tag.

The next tip is for when you’re staying at an all-inclusive resort, taking a cruise or using a tour operator: find out about any meal plan options that let you pay in advance for a discount. For example, some cruise lines offer programs that let you order bottles of wine to be served at dinner for the length of your cruise. You won’t get any money back if you don’t finish it all, but you receive a nice discount when you pre-order. The key is these deals usually need to be reserved and paid for ahead of time, and won’t be available once you board.  So ask about them when you are booking your trip.

Here’s a tip for anyone renting a vacation home: take advantage of the kitchen, even if you don’t want to prepare every meal. Just having breakfast on hand, snacks for the kids or coffee and wine for the adults, can lead to some major savings. Then you’ll have enough money to splurge for that special dinner without feeling guilty.

To get that same savings if you decide to go with a standard hotel, try to find one where breakfast is included – or see about getting a room that has a small kitchenette or at least a refrigerator. Even if it costs a few dollars more, you’ll come out ahead in the long run.

Last but not least, bring the fine dining home with you! I’m not talking about leftovers! Purchasing a cookbook from a destination known for its food can provide you with years of memories and edible adventures to create in your own home. And, if you make it to a famous dining establishment, there’s a good chance the chef has a cookbook for sale. Get it autographed to make the souvenir even more memorable.

That’s the recipe for traveling and treating your taste buds, without devouring your budget.