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My Too Frugal Math

Two weeks ago we were visiting NYC.
Jane slept in, so J2 and I went to grab breakfast. I walked out of the hotel with coffee, and we went to a breakfast place where there was no table service, so I had no issue with my coffee in hand. One breakfast – $15. It wasn’t so much a question of whether I could afford it. It was the math I went through as I watched J2 eat it. 2 dozen eggs – $4, loaf of bread -$2. OJ – $3. Bacon -$3.
The bottom line was that I calculated I could cook breakfast at home for 12 people for this much money. Or alternately, make that same one breakfast for under $2.

I wonder if others find themselves doing this math for this type of purchase. And yes, when we eat ice cream at an ice cream parlor, I calculate how many 1.5qt containers I could have bought with the same money. Although I do my best not to say it out loud.


  • Elle October 22, 2010, 10:59 am

    Generally I think I cook better than most restaurants and as you point out, at a much lower cost. Still, some years ago I started rationalizing the cost of my not-too-frequent meals at restaurants as the price of the ambiance and enjoying communing over a good meal with friends. Plus it is neutral turf, so to speak, for a meeting place. 🙂

  • Penny Frugalista October 22, 2010, 12:20 pm

    I do the same thing more often than I care to admit. It definitely stops me from enjoying meals out — except when it comes to sushi. That isn’t something I’d make at home!

  • Robert Muir October 22, 2010, 1:22 pm

    Nope, you’re not the only one. I do that too. I think of it as paying for ambiance, quality, and convenience. When you absolutely cannot prepare your own food, then you *have* to pay for convenience. Ambiance/quality is the additional fee that is paid above convenience.

    We have some restaurants in my neighborhood with pretty decent food, but the ambiance is horrible. So I refuse to eat in such a place more than once.

    If the establishment has decent ambiance and food quality, but the expense relative to my means is too high, then I’ll avoid it. El Gaucho for example. High priced restaurants are for people with enough money that it’s not a pinch to eat there – rather like flying first class.

    Dairy Queen has low ambiance, but a very high convenience factor. You can’t always go to the store and buy a quart of ice cream and fixins to satisfy your taste for a sweet, cold treat. Also, if you buy the whole container, you’re unlikely to throw away the left overs and end up eating far too much ice cream for your own good.

    Bottom line is that there’s nothing wrong with eating out, just make sure the establishment and meal is at the right level for convenience, ambiance, and quality.

  • Romeo October 22, 2010, 2:59 pm

    ROTFL. I perform this type of math all the time. In fact, anytime my son, at eight years old, orders the pasta and marinara sauce at a restaurant, I scrutinize him for preventing wealth. I mean, really, $5? I can feed a family of four on $5 worth of pasta and a sauce–and I routinely do so.


  • Sun October 22, 2010, 2:28 pm

    Sounds like you paid too much for breakfast even in metropolitan ny. I guess you didn’t mind being a visitor. A splurge now and then for convenience and relaxation is good for you.

  • JOE October 22, 2010, 3:55 pm

    By coincidence – We make sushi at home, our family recipe site just published it – http://www.anotherfinemeal.com/sushi-california-roll/

  • Roshawn @ Watson Inc October 24, 2010, 7:36 am

    I try not to torture myself with such calculations; however, sometimes it is harder than others. I think it is a product of being conscientious about your finances and is very common though.

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