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Escaping the Dining Hall: A College Girl’s Guide to Frugally Eating Out


When money is tight and meal plans get expensive, local hot spots can be the perfect solution without having to resort to fast food. Chances are that there are plenty of inexpensive eateries within walking distance, bus, or a short car ride from your dorm.

1. Neighborhood Restaurants: Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Applebee’s, Carabba’s, Joe’s Crab Shack, etc. With these restaurants, you can look up the menu online and plan what you’re going to eat ahead of time. Many of these places have deals where you can spend $25 and under with two meals, an appetizer and maybe even a dessert! These are great places for a cheap date or a night out with the girls.
2. Local diners or restaurants
3. Food Trucks: They are increasing in popularity and have more "gourmet" or upscale options.
4. Farmer’s Markets: Today, farmer’s markets have small vendors and restaurants, fresh food and even free samples. For example, Sweet Auburn Market is a farmer’s market located in and around the heart of Atlanta and Georgia State University. It carries a variety of fresh food and small locally-owned eateries.

Neighborhood restaurants have the typical burger and fries, as well as salads, pasta and seafood (Red Lobster and Joe’s Crab Shack). Going out with my friends, we know we don’t eat a lot, so we typically share foods or try to get something off of the kids menu. Local diners and restaurants are a bit different. Because they aren’t chain establishments, they can make their own prices. Diners featuring more American-type foods may be more affordable than some local restaurants. Try to stay away from “trendy” places because their prices may reflect that. Stay closer to the “mom and pop” places that value service over high prices.

Ultimately, when you want to escape the monotony of the dining hall and have a fun night out with friends, selecting a restaurant that won’t break the bank is the frugal way to go.

By: Aspen Evans | Image: Source

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