Being a Foodie on a Discount

25 Aug

Before I get into some of the fabulous deals I’ve used this week, I just had to share this funny piece from The Onion, my beloved Austin bastion of satire: Extreme Couponing Craze Increases Newspaper Theft. Funny stuff.

After my nephews left, I didn’t go out much on the weekend. I bought a few grocery items and cooked at home on both Saturday and Sunday. Recuperating from five days with two pre-adolescent boys.

Monday brought a very busy, long work day of catching up. So in the evening, I treated myself to a fantastic sushi dinner at Sushi Japon, courtesy of Groupon ($15 for $25 coupon, savings of 40%). It’s a very unassuming little place along I-35 just north of 2222, and one of my favorite sushi spots. Always very good – try the Hot Night roll. And by the way, Sushi Japon always offers their own coupon for 15% off. I used the Groupon Now tool, which is a super useful system to find out what deals are available at the moment, near your physical location. You can find something to eat, shopping, massages and lots more – deals to be had within a certain time period that day. When you use the mobile app, it’s terrific because it will list the deals closest to you first. No need to pay full-price when you have tools like Groupon Now and Scoutmob to tell you what’s nearby, at 30-60% off.

Speaking of Scoutmob, I used their deal to get 50% off a fantastic lunch on Tuesday at Annie’s Cafe & Bar in downtown Austin. Meeting my daughter for lunch, we enjoyed Annie’s fresh farm-to-table fare that uses organic, mostly local ingredients. It’s also a beautiful space, light and airy with a European bistro feel – and the only sidewalk cafe downtown. Even without a coupon or deal, Annie’s has some excellent offerings of their own. On Tuesdays you can get a 3-course steak dinner for $15, and Wednesdays bring half-price bottles of wine all night. Annie’s also has one of the best happy hours in town, with $5 high-quality bar food from 4-7, Tuesday through Friday.

Jeremiah Allen of Man Bites Dog

I had another tasty lunch this week courtesy of the 50% off Scoutmob mobile coupon, at Man Bites Dog. This is a very yummy little gourmet hot dog place that used to be a food trailer on South Lamar; now they’ve moved to a regular bricks-and-mortar storefront. “It’s air-conditioned,” owner Jeremiah Allen confessed to me, with relief, on my visit. And before you get any preconceived notions upon hearing the words “hot dog,” let me put your mind at ease. I am not a hot dog person. I have never loved, nor craved, the quintessentially American food. I probably hadn’t eaten a hot dog in years before discovering this place – which is also completely vegetarian friendly, by the way. Jeremiah and his staff create heaping dogs such as the Cuban, the Bottle Rocket (Danish), the Reuben and my favorite, the Greek Dog (with cucumber, olive, tomato, feta cheese and tzatziki sauce). There are beef, pork, chicken and lamb franks, or you can substitute the incredibly tasty Smart Dog on any of them to go veg. And the buns are really to die for – soft, scrumptious, fresh-baked bread that is nothing like any hot dog bun I’ve ever had. Jeremiah came by my table personally to ask how everything tasted, and he said that he is working on getting a gluten-free bun. He just has to find one that meets his high taste standards.

Keith is about to dig into this amazing dinner cooked at Thai Fresh

Wednesday, August 24, was my guy’s birthday. Never fear, I was still able to take him out for a fun evening to celebrate, under the parameters of this experiment. Earlier in the week I learned that the Sustainable Food Center was hosting a foodie event on the 24th. As a big fan of SFC (read my interview with community relations director Susan Leibrock), I was excited to hear about the SFC Thai Fresh Cooking Class. I’m already a fan of Thai Fresh, having taken a cooking class with owner/chef Jam Sanitchat last year and buying her food at the Saturday Farmer’s Market. I’ve made the dishes I learned there many times over, and Keith and I both count Thai food as our favorite. We really can’t get enough! Tickets were $35, a savings of 45% off the normal class cost of $65. I asked Keith if he would want to do this for his birthday, and received the expected “hell yes!” answer.

So last night, we had a fantastic evening at Thai Fresh for Keith’s birthday, with 15 other SFC foodies. Jam showed us how to make Tom Kha (coconut soup) – a favorite – as well as Masaman curry, drunken noodles, and a Thai omelette. She also explained how much of what she cooks comes from, and is influenced by, local farmers and products. By the way, Jam puts a lot of her recipes on her blog. After creating the dishes, and breathing in the intoxicating Thai aromas (which have to be the best on the planet), we were ready to eat. An added bonus was that for cooking class participants, Thai Fresh offers bottles of wine at half price!

Can’t beat the event cost (which includes all the food) or half-price wine, and we had a great time. The Thai Fresh class I did last year was through Groupon, so I know they occasionally have different offerings like this. And guess what – Thai Fresh is offering a Groupon right now! Thanks Jam, and Sustainable Food Center!

Keith, Jam and I after the fun cooking class

Until next time….live well, and don’t pay full price!

3 Responses to “Being a Foodie on a Discount”

  1. Marissa Landrigan August 25, 2011 at 3:03 pm #

    Great post, Shelley! I love how some of your challenges seem to be building off each other, that in many ways eating on the cheap means finding the local deals, the small-scale, the sustainable and therefore intentional. I also think it’s great that you’re reminding us that living well and living cheaply can go hand-in-hand. Coupons do not have to equal sacrifice, and they help remind us that money isn’t everything.

    • Shelley Seale August 25, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

      Thanks Marissa, and I agree. The 30-day challenges have really influenced and built upon each other – not just the sustainable/eating local/discount living, but also the wardrobe diet and giving; and the happiness and meditation…it’s amazing how implementing good things like this in your life just influence and bring about more good, healthy things.

      Your word “intentional” is a great one for this whole year’s worth of experiments. It’s all about living in a more conscious manner.


  1. Cooking up Deliciousness | Trading Places - February 8, 2012

    […] Cooking up Deliciousness I’m a big fan of some of the cooking shows, especially the challenge ones like Chopped and Master Chef. I love the creativity some of these chefs bring, and I really enjoy finding products in the stores or farmers markets and trying out new recipes with them. I’ve taken a number of cooking classes here in Austin, with Central Market Cooking School and Thai Fresh. […]

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