Now that the pandemic is nearing it’s end, we’ve decided we would like to return to having some of our meals out. After 15 months of constant cooking and cleaning for and after our meals, my husband and I are ready to break free. Eating out in restaurants is still totally out of our budget, but lately, some fast food eateries are serving up some very fine edibles.

First up is Popeye’s. Touting their meals as southern in base, they offer such Louisiana specials as po’boy sandwiches, southern fried chicken and guaranteed flounder fish sandwiches. All at reasonable prices.

I never used to like fast food, but lately, fast food has come a long, long way! Buying take-out food is a whole lot cheaper than sitting down in a restaurant. If you pack your own drinks and chips/snacks/whatever, the price is even lower. We’ve been doing the take-away thing and then bringing the food to a park or some setting that has a view, making a near perfect food experience for us.

Last week, hubby and I wanted to try out the new Popeye’s crispy chicken sandwich. TV advertisements have never swayed me on buying anything, but this particular sandwich intrigued me. At $3.99 plus tax, hubby and I put it on our bucket list to at least try this sandwich out.

I’m happy to say, the sandwich didn’t disappoint (BUT the calories and fat content, should give a person pause). It was a once-in-a-lifetime treat. On WW (Weight Watchers: please note I’m on a diet, yet still want to live!) the crispy chicken sandwich is 23 points, which means it’s the only thing I could eat all day. I’d have to fill in the rest of my day with zero point foods, such as eggs, fruit, lean turkey and veggies. Hubby had the flounder fish sandwich at $4.49, plus tax, our lunch came to $9.16. We packed our own beverages but next time I’m trying/including the strawberry lemonade!

On Father’s Day, we both wanted to go out to eat but didn’t want to do the fast food thing again nor the restaurant thing. We decided to look for a spot next to a local college to see if we could find some good bargains. Restaurants located within a college perimeter are notorious for having good decent food at very low prices to attract the paying students. We found a family-owned pizzeria that charged by the slice ($2.50) and didn’t force you to buy a whole pie ($14 to $18). Note: as Italians, we don’t do the Papa John’s or Domino’s mass-produced pizza thing. We ordered by the slice: I had one regular margarita slice, hubby has 2 specialty veggie slices, which came to the total of $8. We then went to a local family owned, dairy/ice cream store and ordered 2 soft serve, ice cream sandwiches @$1 each, bringing the total dinner price of $10. (sorry, I don’t have any photos but I will next time, as we will be going back)

So far, we’ve managed to keep our dining out experiences down to $10 per visit. That’s an awesome goal for us since our monthly meals-out budget is $25. We don’t eat our meals in the parking lot or in the car if we can help it. We drive to a nearby park, some of which have picnic tables and have our meal in as beautiful a setting as we can muster.

We’re still cooking at home. Here are some of the dishes we had this past week. All food was purchased at Aldi and some of the dishes, such as The Bubble Up French Toast (click here for the recipe) and Broccoli & Feta Cheese frittata (click here for recipe) are on the WW program (just make sure you use fat-free feta cheese and skim milk). Aldi, now offers pre-made, fresh turkey burgers. Delish! My daughter bought me a milk frother for Mother’s Day which has enabled me to make terrific, Starbuck-quality lattes. On the veggie/salad side, I steamed asparagus and made a tomato/mozzarella/red onion salad topped with olive oil and fresh basil from my garden.

It was a very healthy and low cost dining week! Not feeling any inflation jitters as yet, provided we keep watching our bottom line and seek out alternatives.

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