Thursday, March 12, 2009

Restaurant Non-Frugal

This weekend, we did something very rare for our family. We went out to lunch after church. Obviously we all know going out to eat is not frugal. But sometimes a little splurge is in order.

We decided to do something different and head out to Old Country Buffet. It's an all-you-can-eat buffet, so that has to be pretty frugal, right?

Wrong! Without tip, it was $33 for our family. I guess for a family going out to eat that isn't too bad. (As an aside, if you ever go to eat at an all-you-can-eat buffet, it is still standard practice to tip the waitresses!)

So as we headed to our seats, I was kind of feeling not too bad about this decision. Sure it was a lot of money, especially compared to if we'd just eaten at home. But this was a rare Sunday afternoon treat.

As the meal progressed, both Eric and I began regretting this decision. Here are all of the reasons Old Country Buffet should be dubbed "Restaurant Non-Frugal."

  1. If you care even a little bit about eating healthy, for an all-you-can-eat buffett, your options will be very limited.
  2. Everything tastes like it came out of a can, including the "steak" and the ribs.
  3. Coffee is supposed to be hot.
  4. Soup is supposed to be hot.
  5. Ice cream is supposed to be cold.
  6. I've never in my life paid $11 dollars for a decent tasting rice krispy bar. (And yes, that was the only thing that tasted good.)
  7. You paid good money to gorge yourself with an all-you-can-eat spread. It shouldn't be torturous trying to decide what else you can stomach just so you can get your money's worth.
When we left, Eric and I questioned why we had just made such a colossal mistake. Believe it or not, we've actually done this before. It was about a year ago and we walked out feeling the exact same way. Maybe we'll remember next time.

So my frugal tip for today is this - If you are going to treat yourselves to a rare meal out, make sure you like the restaurant where you are going.

I will admit it is possible that it's just this Old Country Buffet that is this bad. Although you'd be hard-pressed to ever convince me to eat at another one!

Tell me about your OCB experiences. I'd love to hear if you agree or disagree with our assessment.

Stop by the new Frugal Friday home, Life As Mom.


Dave @ Home School Dad 12:00 AM  

I can not walk on cracks. I can not use silverware from a resturant I have to bring my own in. I throw away my underwear after I have used it once. I am not sure we are taking about the same OCB. I was just thinking of Obsessive Compulsive Behavior.
Seriously, I like Old Country Buffet. Some are much better than others. (We have been to at least 10 in our travels). Sometimes when we go to our local one there are occasions when me or my wife (much pickier eater) can't find anything good. But not very often.
Here are tips to make it more frugal 1) go for lunch or breakfast rather than dinner. On weekends I believe they do not have lunch prices just breakfast and dinner. 2) Go about 15 minutes before the meal price changes. You can still get the next meal but you do it at cheaper prices. 3)Use coupons or free passes. Libraries, my daughter girl scout troop, parades are often passing out kids eat free tickets. Our library always includes them in their summer reading programs. We generally only go to our local one when we have a coupon or a free ticket.

I hope that helps.

Leah S. 2:17 AM  

I agree with you. I think they are dirty and gross. It's much better to go to a restaurant that you really like...might as well enjoy that money you are spending!

Becky,  9:34 AM  

We also will not return to Old Country Buffet. We have not only found their food to be tasteless, but also full of unwanted chemicals. We have a daughter with super sensitivity to chemically processed foods (we didn't know this until recently). Everytime we ate at OCB she would get very sick (it is her brother's favorite place because he likes food with no taste). We tried it one more time last fall and decided that was it--never again would we go there. I wonder how long that food has actually been sitting out there?

Buffie 11:27 AM  

I have never been to a buffet style restaurant that had decent food. When we do go out we prefer to go to a sit down restaurant that we know has good food (via previous experience or friends recommendation). It may cost a little more but at least we get something we like and can still feel like it was a treat.

HappyHermit 11:30 AM  

Oh , me and my husband are that way , seeking frugality , it seems not only are prices outrageous at most restaurants , we actually have a few we get ill from every time we eat there , we finally cut back to the best frugal solutions. A Chinese restaurant with a 3 table buffet and a fresh made sushi area. (they make it for you fresh , and the ever reliable SUBWAY.

Taryn 2:30 PM  

I remember LOVING OCB as a kid- all the desserts I wanted! How was not not awesome? but as an adult- I don't think it would cut it.

Meghan 3:14 PM  

OCB is G-R-O-S-S!
I always leave feeling ill.
Even my husband & kids are like "ew!"

Brooke 3:50 PM  

lol! glad to know i'm not the only one that feels that way.

Mrs. Bick 4:09 PM  

I couldn't have said it better!

It is my opinion that the cost of such buffets is high to compensate for the amount of loss they have due to "sampling" and people getting more than they eat. Then, too, I am sure there are those that eat to get their money's worth.

I won't say we will not return, but it would have to be our only or last choice... in an emergency.

Jennifer 8:19 PM  

We went out to eat last weekend and spent $33 at Panera bread company. Delicious! So worth the money. I agree with you though, if you don't end up liking it, it is very disappointing. I don't think all you can eat buffet's save money over just eating at a regular restaurant. You just get more options and usually desert is included.

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