Craving in the Keys

Over July 4th weekend, we took a road trip from Fort Lauderdale to Key West, FL. The plan was to use restaurant deals or earn points as much as possible. The easiest way to do this? Keep Cravor handy on our mobile devices! Our first stop was about three-quarters of the way to our destination, in a town called Marathon, FL. We found a place on Cravor with a Restaurant.com gift card. So we ate at Porky’s Bayside with our deal and enjoyed some delicious food and great view. Check out these fish tacos I had!

porkys

fishtacos

When we got to Key West, we checked into our hotel and headed to Duval Street for some dinner and nightlife. We found a number of deals for bars and restaurants in the area, and decided to check out The Lazy Gecko and earned points for every dollar we spent. In the morning, we got a Groupon deal at Camille’s for breakfast. I think we did pretty well towards our goal of “Craving in the Keys”. Hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July weekend!

july4

Foodie on a Restricted Diet?

GF
People have dietary restrictions for a number of reasons. Sometimes the reason is medical, other times it’s a personal choice, and often it’s a combination of the two. Many believe that the food we put into our bodies has a profound effect on our health, wellbeing, and even the presence or absence of disease. Although the surge of nutritional information and dietary advice seems to be a recent trend, the concept that diet can be used to treat or prevent disease is actual quite historical. Hippocrates, the ancient Greek Physician is known for saying, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”.
So, can someone on a restricted diet still be considered a foodie? My answer is, yes! Maybe even more so, as eliminating certain common foods allows for experimentation of foods and food groups that had previously been ignored. For instance, eliminating wheat or gluten may lead one to try alternative grains such as rice, quinoa, or buckwheat. Having tried both wheat-free and gluten-free diets myself, I’ve found that ditching the bread actually enhances the taste experience. With a bun-less burger, I truly experience all the tastes of the meat and toppings.
Giving up dairy in addition to gluten was more difficult for me, as I love, love, love cheese. Did I mention I like cheese? But I thought this restriction was worth it as part of an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. I still eat eggs (and man do I eat eggs!) but I avoid all animal milk products. Alternatives to dairy that have come to be a regular part of my diet include almond and coconut milk, and dips like hummus, guacamole, and pico de gallo (instead of crackers and cheese).
While restricting certain foods is, indeed, a restriction – it can also expand your palate beyond what you used to eat. If the particular diet is also curative, or at least makes you feel better, then it’s a win-win. That is not to say that living with a medically-necessary diet is easy or carefree; in fact, for those who do not have a choice it can be a huge hardship. But I hope that with the increasing awareness of gluten-free and other special diets, alternative food choices become more and more convenient.

 

Food for Your Mood

Spaghetti
Do you crave certain foods depending on your mood? Everyone is different, but maybe some of us share the following mind-gut connections!
What you eat when you’re…
Happy
Pretty much anything. After all, you’re happy and feel like nothing can go wrong – including dinner.
Excited
A snack, appetizer, or tapa. When you’re excited about something, you don’t care too much about eating. But who could turn down a few bites of fish dip or a tasty slider?
Sad
Now this one is different for everyone. Some people don’t want to eat when they’re sad. Others prefer comfort foods – maybe something you ate since you were little. How about homemade grilled cheese, or drowning your sorrows in a bowl of spaghetti?
Angry 
Something spicy. Buffalo wings, and some blue cheese to cool it (and you) down a bit.
Anxious
Similar to sad-mood food, this one can go either way. Most likely, if you’re super anxious about something, your hunger switch is turned to “off”.
Curious
Something exotic. A new type of ethnic food, or something you’ve never had like goat, alligator, or rabit. Or if you’re not into meat, then kale, quinoa, or seaweed.
Bored
The worst time to eat (for your waistline anyway)! When you’re bored you’d eat pretty much anything, and any amount.
Inspired
When you’re inspired, maybe you’ll cook up a new kitchen creation, snap a photo, and post your pride on facebook!

9 Ways to Know You’re Spending Too Much on Food

I’m on a list post kick, so here goes…
1. You go to Starbucks, ever.
But it’s so good.
Coffee
2. You can’t figure out why your savings account isn’t growing 
(and you don’t take lavish trips, buy high-end clothes, or have all the latest electronics).
Piggy
3. You cringe at the thought of purchasing a $40 shirt, but have no problem selecting the $40 filet at an upscale steakhouse.
Because it’s totally worth it.
Steak
4. You’ve become a regular at the lunch cafe in your office building.
Unless you work for Google, we’re assuming you dish out at least 10 bucks a day there.
Lunch
5. One time you packed your lunch.
That one time.
Brown Bag
6. You are in awe of people who eat to live, rather than live to eat.
They chomp on granola bars while composing reports, throw back some raisins and call it a lunch. Dinner is optional.
Granola
 
7. Going out to dinner is one of your favorite activities.
Maybe most favorite.
Restaurant
8. You’ve never used a restaurant deal or discount.
You’ve heard of them but it’s too much work to find one you want when you want it.
Percent
9. You don’t know what Cravor is.
Cravor makes it easy to see all the restaurant deals in you area. Make it your first step to spending less! Visit cravor.com on the web or your mobile device today!
CRAVOR_final-logo-w--tagline

7 Things That Annoy True Foodies

1. People who “hate” foods they’ve never tried.
Anne: Ew, gross. How can you eat raw fish?
Foodie: It’s delicious. Have you ever tried sushi?
Anne: No, never. I hate sushi.
Sushi
2. Dining out with someone who’s on a diet.
Joy: I think I’m just going to have an appetizer.
Foodie: Okay, well I hope you brought a book to read while I enjoy my second and third courses.
Appetizer
3. People who think Ramen Noodles are solely a college student’s cuisine.
Joe: You’re eating Ramen? Are you poor?
Foodie: I topped it with steak…
Noodles
4. Having to eat an entree at a wedding reception.
Foodie: I’ll just fill up on cocktail hour hors d’oeuvres, then smear the dinner around my plate to look like I ate some of it.
Wedding
5. Coworkers who bring peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch.
Mark: Mmm, this is so good. I’ve eaten the same thing for lunch since third grade.
Foodie: Can this day get more depressing?
PBJ
6. Chain restaurants that have recently discovered avocado, or kale, and use it as a marketing strategy.
Generic-chain-restaurant-commercial: Try our new chicken wrap (which is really our old chicken wrap but now with… avocado!)
Avocado
7. People who can’t pronounce quinoa.
Mary: What’s a kin-o-wah salad?
Foodie: I don’t know.
RestaurantGirls

Another Dinner Deal!

Photo from yelp.com

Photo from yelp.com

A few days ago, we found a deal on Cravor for a new downtown restaurant. The Bull Market is a stock-market inspired restaurant with a pretty neat menu and great location. Last night we checked it out. We enjoyed the sliders with tasty fries and a unique twist on quesadillas – chicken, goat cheese, and strawberry salsa. I had a blueberry margarita that was sweet and refreshing. We ended up getting $8 off the bill by using a Groupon that gave us $20 to use for only $12. Looking forward to trying more restaurants with deals. Keep you posted!

Eating and Earning

Restaurant deals are a great way to save money. Another dine-savvy tip is to sign up for rewards programs and earn points at participating restaurants. Over the weekend, we took a trip about three hours north to Cocoa Beach, FL. We searched for restaurants offering deals in the area and checked reviews. We decided on a sports bar for dinner called Sandbar Sports Grill. The restaurant is affiliated with a number of rewards programs, such as those offered by airlines and hotel chains. What a delicious decision. I had the gator tacos which were just amazing. I paid the check with my credit card linked to Free Spirit Dining and earned some valuable airline points! I definitely recommend signing up for dining rewards programs, especially if you eat out a lot. For foodies like us, it’s a no-brainer! Below is a photo of the entrance of this unique place. If we’re ever back that way, we’ll be visiting again!

Sandbar

Yummy Melty Deal

restaurantfriends

Sometimes the hardest part about being on a food budget is going out to eat with friends. You don’t want dampen the mood by discussing how much you can spend (and then concluding that it will only get you half an appetizer and some ice water). So I discovered that this is one great time to use a restaurant deal. The benefits are twofold: you get to stay on budget and your friends get to save some money too!

Here’s an example from this week. Two friends and I decided to go out to lunch. We knew which area we wanted to go, so I checked out some nearby restaurant deals. I found a great sandwich place with a mouth-watering name – Daily Melt Grill – and a wallet-friendly deal! Pay $12 for $20 worth of sandwiches. Perfect for the three of us. Our total came to $21 (but we only paid $13), then we split the $13 three ways = $4.33/person… for delicious, melty, yummy goodness.

I could get used to dining for less. In fact, I’m going to find my next deal right now. Until next time…

Foodeloo!

New Year’s Resolution

So a few weeks ago I discovered how much I actually spend on food in a week, and I’ve done some brainstorming for ways to cut down on that.

Since the holidays crept up quickly after my last post – and involved traveling, dining out, and of course Christmas shopping – I decided it wasn’t the best time to start revamping my budget (excuse).

But now, like most of the country, I’m using the mantras: “no excuses” and “turning a new leaf”. I will cut down on food spending with a new year’s resolution. It won’t happen all at once, but I’ll do it in steps.

First, I’ll tackle dining out expenses. I think the best way is to use restaurant deals, which are plentiful around the web (but not always accessible when you search alone). That’s why websites like Cravor help by aggregating all the deals near your location and listing them in one place. You won’t believe all the restaurants you know that have deals you didn’t know about!

So step one of my new years resolution to eat and dine for less is to utilize restaurant coupons any time I can. Check back for updates as I post the best deals and most delicious meals.

Happy holidays and best wishes for the new year!

tree

My Food Expense Analysis

After one week of documenting what I spent on supermarket trips, convenience store stops, restaurants and fast food meals, my one-week food expense journal is complete. Here’s my analysis chart:

WeeklySpending

In one week, I spent $159 on food. I spent the least amount of money on fast food (10%). I guess that’s a good thing because I’ve heard it’s not all that healthy (ha). It’s also cheap, so it makes sense that fast food comprises the smallest category of my spending.

Next came supermarket spending (23%). Going forward, I’d like to see a higher percent spent on cost-efficient supermarket shopping than on restaurants and convenience stores.

At convenience stores you pay for just that – convenience. I’m sure this category (25%) was made up of my least cost-efficient choices. Finally, restaurants take first place in my spending experiment at 42% of my weekly food food budget (or lack thereof)! This probably has a lot to do with the higher cost of restaurant meals in general, combined with the need to tip, and perhaps my frequenting them too often.

But what’s a foodie to do? I won’t give up dining out. Homemade is great, but it doesn’t eliminate the need (ok, desire) for professionally prepared and served meals. Restaurant coupons and discounts are out there, but often hard to find right when you need them and where you need them. Websites like cravor.com make it easier. For instance, instead of paying full price two nights ago at Cheesecake Factory, I could have had Cravor search the web for deals at this chain.

So, that’s one of my goals: use more restaurant deals. Another goal is to cook more and become supermarket savvy. Over the next few weeks I’ll work on revamping my spending habits. I’ll check in with stories, recipes, and tips for dining for less. One thing I know is: I’m going to keep craving, but hopefully I’ll start saving! See you soon…

Foodeloo!