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Budget Dining

If you are traveling on a limited budget or if you lose all your money in a casino, here are some places where you can eat well without spending much money.

Fast Food is readily available almost everywhere in the USA and is very inexpensive. Sandwiches are the most common and they come in many varieties such as: Hamburgers, roast beef, chicken and submarines (also known as Hoagies, Grinders or PoBoys). Pizza is sold everywhere. In addition, there are fast food restaurants serving fried chicken, Mexican Tacos, Greek Gyros, Chinese dishes, Japanese sushi, Bar-B-Que and many regional specialties. Look for specially priced combinations or "value meals" where you can get a sandwich with French fries and a drink for a very low, bargain price. Many fast food restaurants offer free refills on all drinks, and some offer "Giant sized" portions for a small additional charge. You can get a fast food breakfast for about $3 and lunch for less than $5.

Convenience Stores are open from early morning to late night, sometimes even open "24 hours a day". They usually sell groceries, snacks, pastries, cold drinks, coffee, hot dogs, and sandwiches made to your order. They are very inexpensive. You can usually get a light breakfast or lunch for just a few dollars.

Supermarkets sell many things besides groceries. Look for the soup and salad bar or the delicatessen and hot food sections. They sell hot soups by the cup, the pint or the quart. Serve yourself! Spoons and napkins are free. Make your own salad from a choice of several dozen items and pay by the weight when you check out at the cashier. You can find some real bargain meals "ready to eat" in a large supermarket. In many cities, supermarkets are open "24 hours a day".

Food Courts have become very popular in most shopping malls. They offer a variety of fast food restaurants clustered around a central seating area. You can find many kinds of foods, beverages and desserts with a comfortable place to relax and eat. Malls usually open about 10:00 Am and close at 9:00 PM except on Sundays when they close at 5:00 PM in most parts of the USA.

All you can Eat Buffets and Salad Bars are great places to go when you are really hungry. For one price, you can eat all you want from the buffet table. In some "all you can eat" restaurants the buffet table is over 50 feet (15 meters) long with all sorts of meats, fishes, salads, fruits, vegetables and desserts. Most "all you can eat" buffet restaurants charge about $7 to $10 at lunchtime and $10 to $15 for dinner. Many steak houses and other restaurants have "soup and salad" bars that include hot foods like chicken wings or tacos and desserts. If you order any meal, the "all you can eat" salad bar is included at no extra charge. For a real bargain, just order the salad bar with a beverage. A salad bar usually costs about $5 at lunch and about $8 at dinner.

Beware! Fast food or even slow food in most airports is not cheap.

Written by: Mike Leco
Top Photo Credit: © Oktay Ortakcioglu Ratoath
Photo Description: Food buffets are often all-you-can-eat and offer quick service and a variety of food options at a decent price.