Cheapy Cheapskate's Night Out for Under $15

Just yesterday my husband and I got unpleasant news about our quarterly tax payments for 2009. Short version: we need to throw more sticks on the fire under our newly-cost-savings-conscious bottoms.

Seymour pointed out that incidental dining costs are one of our biggest drains: We can still have our date night once per week, but should be wary of dinner plus drinks plus coffee plus dessert plus a movie. That shit gets expensive.

But does it have to? Not necessarily, not for the savvy scrimper.

Our city is the county seat. The county jail and adjoining courtroom loom over downtown, amidst a nimbus of bail bonds offices and inexpensive bars. Reasonably strong well drinks at the friendly, clean bar directly across the street from the county jail are $4. I haven't figured out why the drinks aren't quite as strong as they could be: is it because the owners suspect that recent county guests are less likely to make a fuss, or because getting said guests seriously liquored up is a questionable idea?

It's only a two block walk from the jail to Pizza My Heart, a chain restaurant that makes a fine, large, slice of pesto pizza with a NY-style crust for only $3.25. They'll even give you a cup of water to counter the effects of that well drink, if you ask.

(Bonus: PMH stocks the large red straws that my son loves to stim on, and leaves them in open, unattended bins by the beverage area. Tonight marked another victory for LUST: The League of Unrepentant Straw Thieves!)

Coffee and Dessert
The pastry and coffee areas of my heart normally belong to Pamplemousse, but they close by 7 PM on weeknights. Downtown's other patisserie, La Tartine, cannot compete with "Plapamouse" (as my youngest calls it) in quality, but it stays open until 10, has free wifi, and is across the street from Pizza My Heart. A generous cup of good black coffee is $2.15; that plus two 50 cent mini-palmiers equals $3.15 for coffee and dessert.

I am in the habit of recommending my dentist to anyone who might possibly need dental care, because he sends me one movie pass for each person who shows up in his office and mentions my name. So, for me, tonight, the movie was free, and the total for my evening really was under $15. However this is not a reliable method for dealing with a bigscreen habit, so I recommend buying movie passes at Costco, as you'll save almost $4 per ticket.

With my dentist pass, and including a dollar tip at the bar and in the tip jars at the pizza joint and patisserie, the total for a stiff drink, dinner, coffee, dessert, and a movie was $13.40 per person. That really was my total, as I timed my arrival after 7PM, when downtown parking becomes free.

With a Costco movie pass ($7.50), the adjusted total for the evening would still have been only $20.90. Yay, suburban cities with vibrant walkable downtowns!

For those of you who are now laughing because you are my husband or co-editor and are at least eight inches taller than me and would never consider the above a filling meal: Pack a sandwich into the movie theater. Er, if your theater allows such things.


  1. This may just inspire me to convince the man we need a cheapskate's date night soon. Only with more drinking. :) We can save a few bucks by buying a bottle of rot-gut vodka and some juice in a can. I feel a theme date coming on! :)

  2. And hey, those Sigg-type bottles make excellent flasks, should one be so inclined. Good luck.

  3. I'm not laughing, I'm sighing over the relative lack of options around here compared to the wealth you enjoy over there. (I'm in rural PA, but lived in the Bay Area for a few years, so I do know what I'm missing.)
    Lucky you, to have such a wealth of options, and someone to share them with! :)

  4. I'm sorry I did not tell you earlier that this is pretty much exactly the date Descartes and I go on every Thursday :)

    I likes Escape from New York Pizza better, but PMH can do in a pinch.

    I can also do one of those Parisian sandwiches from Tartine.

    We still need to move our date night so we can find other cheapy ways to go. Bowling is a good deal too.. especially if there are 4 of us because we can buy a package deal :)

    Let's get together and cut coupons.

  5. I am feeling sheepish as Charlie and I ran up a bill at Whole Paycheck, partially I was indulging him in the dessert bar and because we needed to restock melatonin, and because he (and Jim) adore purple grapes and good ones that don't taste like grapes-into-raisins "cost."

    Consolation: Charlie's eyes were far bigger than his stomach and I was able to convince him to leave some nice leftovers for his lunchbox, and for his parents.

    We don't do weekly dates but got in 2 with my parents visiting, one at a Greenwich Village restaurant so the bills was, ahem, a bit more----of course, those were the first dates we'd had in a year.

  6. Now I am feeling all inspired. Nice idea about the SIGG bottle!


  7. This is so you. I love it. Then I got to the Movie section: Hello, GARY.

    (With Love.)

  8. @dee someone has to keep the CA Des R. banner flying.

    @kristina why sheepish? Sounds like well-deserved indulgences. Wish there were ways for you to get more date nights.

    @Sara Hopefully you're not there indefinitely? And many things can arrive via the mail...

    @Jennyalice Perhaps we can have a cheapy-cheap date quartet?


Respectful disagreement encouraged.