To Dine on a Dime

Although being a student and being broke definitely goes hand in hand, you don’t need to be toting a backpack around town to crave a good meal on a budget. We are all always on the lookout for ways to save some moolah and still eat well—and lucky us, we live in a town that has a plethora of inexpensive and tasty dining to be had, if you only know where to look.

This is a rundown of some of our go-to places to grab a delicious and wallet-friendly meal. I was having a hard time picking a budget point, but I ended up choosing $7.50 as the ceiling for these meals; five bucks was too low, and ten bucks seemed a bit steep for a “budget” meal. Away we go!

Hopefully you already know about the delicious burger spot, Nobby’s, but you might not know that you can order anything on their menu for under $7. I usually go with the petite burger and small fries, and that comes in just under our budget. Next up is Sol Mexican Grill. Again, just about everything on this menu is under budget—the only exception being the shrimp fajitas coming in at a whopping $7.50. (If you scrounge under your car seats I’m sure you could unearth another fifty cents.) I am fond of the tostada salad with the southwest dressing, or their chile relleno burrito.

At Sultan’s Bistro downtown, I am a sucker for the appetizer sampler: tabouli, hummus, baba ghanouj, dolmas, tzatziki, spanakopita and pita bread. It is a huge amount of food and usually ends up being two meals for me. You can also order up any Athens Style gyro (my fave is the falafel gyro) for a mere $5.75. Also downtown, Thai Basil has an ample lunch menu and everything on it is $7.50! I have loved everything I have consumed there, but I especially enjoy the pad thai and the fresh-vegetable-packed red curry with coconut milk (red curry, bamboo shoots, bell pepper, broccoli,  carrots, green beans, zucchini, and Thai basil).

Burger Hut consistently grills up a tasty build-your-own burger, and you can easily dine there within budget. Upper Crust Bakery has a vast array of savory premade items in the glass case, and they have Quiche Lorraine (my hands-down favorite egg dish), Broccoli Slaw with Bacon, and cold Sundried Tomato Pasta with Smoked Mozzarella. They also have cups of various soups and chili on offer each day. Bacio Catering & Carry Out is a terrific stop for another filled-to-the-brim glass case. They have hot and cold items—made with fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients—and I have a weekly craving for their kale Caesar salad, cold Thai chicken salad, and whatever soups they are whipping up.

Eating on a budget absolutely doesn’t have to mean fast-food crap. Grab your $7.50 and hit the streets—there is amazing food to be had!

Jackie is a sometimes food-blogger that is trying to balance the world of mama-hood and her love of food by getting in the kitchen and whipping up edible bits for herself, her husband and her 1 year old and by writing here in this space. She likes to keep it local as much as she can, and you will probably see her cruising the Saturday farmer's market, coffee in hand (always), and chowing down at local restaurants. She braises, she roasts, she can do a mean chiffonade and she firmly believes that bacon and butter make everything better.